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Nicolas Estrada, UWF Art Major, Takes First

March 15, 2019 | Hannah Gainer, CASSH Communicaitons Assistant |

Nicolas Estrada, BFA Graphic Design, '20

The University of West Florida’s Center for Entrepreneurship partnered with Techstars Startup Weekend, Feb. 8-10. Bringing this event to Pensacola and allowing UWF students to compete. This year’s winner of the Startup Weekend Pensacola (SWP) was a CASSH student, junior Nicolas Estrada. Estrada won for his pitch of an innovative ticketing system that would serve as both concert memorabilia and a tool for measuring data related to the event.

Estrada is an Art major, who is studying graphic design. He is originally from Orange Park, Florida, and will be graduating in the spring of 2020.

SWP was a 54-hour event where developers, designers and startup enthusiasts came together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups. The SWP allowed for competitors to create a prototype of their idea, validate business ideas, and receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs; all in one weekend. The goal for the SWP was to surround the competitors with smart, passionate people and with the best tools and approaches at their disposal. They were able to take giant leaps toward creating a business, becoming a founder, and connecting with the right people and resources.

The Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) was one of the major sponsors of the 2019 SWP. CFE provided financial assistance, volunteers, and marketed heavily to get students to attend. Approximately 15 UWF students participated in the SWP this year.

UWF students from all majors were eligible to participate in the competition. The 2019 SWP attendees included engineers, artists, business and health students.

Since the hardest part of starting up a business is starting out, Techstars Startup Weekend allows for the competitors to do just that.

Jim Sparks, program manager for the CFE, is one of the event organizers.

“We support the event because it is a high impact practice where students work side by side with experienced entrepreneurs and business leaders to build a new business in 54 hours,” says Sparks. “They are also coached by top artists, developers, and business professionals; to help them improve their deliverables. They then present to a panel of impressive judges, including UWF's own, Dr. Bob Perkins from the College of Business.”

Sparks states that this is a great opportunity, not all of the projects pitched during the weekend will go on to become businesses, but the connections and skills learned have lifetime value.

“This year, Nicolas Estrada, worked with an experienced entrepreneur, Michael Silver, and again, won first place. That project will continue and we will see whether it becomes an opportunity for the long-term, but it looks hopeful.” says Sparks.


An Interview with Nicolas Estrada

In this interview, we caught up with Nicolas Estrada, who shared his experience and gave an inside look on the 2019 Startup Weekend Pensacola.

CASSH: How did you hear about the Startup Weekend?

NE: I heard about the Startup Weekend through my girlfriend and my professors.

CASSH: Can you explain the idea that you pitched at this event that won the competition?

NE: The idea I pitched was a new ticketing system that breaks away from normal paper stubs and wristbands. It gives event goers, for example, concert goers, a souvenir ticket that acts as memorabilia of the event. Also, the ticket itself tracks and relays data to us, that we can give to event providers, to use that data for future planning of events and even on site planning of event planning for current events.

CASSH: Since you had an idea you wanted to present at this event, what gave you the motivation to sign up for this competition?

NE: I actually wasn’t planning on pitching an idea, I decided to go and participate as a designer for a team. I ended up actually pitching an idea that I came up with in my 3D design class for one my projects, because I needed a conceptual use for the project and I thought it’d be a cool product, so I pitched it.

CASSH: Now that you’ve won the competition, what is the next step for you?

NE: I’m not too sure what the next step is, but I do intend on pursuing this and trying to make my idea a reality!

CASSH: Do you recommend that UWF students participate in future Startup Weekends?

NE: I completely recommend other people to try the event, it’s really eye opening and I learned a lot!


Estrada said, "I couldn’t have asked for a better team, they made the experience really enjoyable and helped me learn the business side of the field I want to work in! I left with a lot of useful information that I intend to use in the future!"  


CASSH: Since the Startup Weekend is a three-day event, can you explain what each day entailed?

NE: Each day was basically a work day for us, pitch for a product that we believed to be viable. We created mock ups, business plans, revenues and much more for the pitch. Along with that we had business owners, designers and engineers comes in and help with ins and outs; about how things would work or advise us on what could be better for the product.

CASSH: How was it being in the environment with people who are already established entrepreneurs? Did you leave with information that will help you down the road?

NE: I’m not going to lie, I was intimidated by my teammates at first because I went into the event with the intent to work as just a designer; but I became a team leader and my team was awesome. They knew a lot of the business side of things, I did not have extensive knowledge on how the business side worked. We worked well together and they explained all the stuff I was unsure about; whether how something worked or what something was. I couldn’t have asked for a better team, they made the experience really enjoyable and helped me learn the business side of the field I want to work in! I left with a lot of useful information that I intend to use in the future!

Visit online to hear more about Estrada’s pitch and Startup Weekend Pensacola.

For more information about the Startup Weekend Pensacola contact The Center of Entrepreneurship, 850-474-2279 or