Hills of the North Umpqua

Million Dollar Ideas

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John Blackwood - 2015 Startup Weekend Winner

Startup Weekend provides a forum to pitch and develop new products and services.

Have you ever had a million-dollar idea and didn’t develop it? If you have ever had an idea worth creating, then Startup Weekend Roseburg may be just what you need. Umpqua Community College (UCC) will be hosting this annual event from April 21 to 23, and the community is invited to participate.

Someone who knows the benefits of Startup Weekend is John Blackwood. The UCC instructor participated in this event in 2015. The inspiration for his invention came in an unexpected way. Raccoons, squirrels, and rats that ate cherries, pears, and apples directly from trees inspired his idea to create Tree Shield. The concept is simple: A ring on the tree expands as a tree grows, and eliminates the traction animals need to climb the tree.

He took this idea to Startup Weekend, pitched it to fellow weekend participants, and ended up with a team win. From there, his Tree Shield grew into a final prototype that will launch this summer. He encourages his students to participate in the annual event—even offering them class credit.

“There are usually about 20 students from UCC at Startup Weekend every year’” he said. “Students in my classes are already working on ideas and designs. It’s an exciting time right now.”

In order to provide participants with maximum information and access, coaches and volunteers from the Douglas County business community will be on hand to help out during the event. All meals, beverages, and snacks for participants are provided.

To learn more about this year’s Startup Weekend, visit www.startroseburg.com or contact Kemberly Todd at UCC’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at (541) 440-7824.

About Umpqua Community College

Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.

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