Spokane Journal of Business

Sparks Weekend to attract 30-plus competitors

Three-day event to be held in University District

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-Ignite Northwest
Sparks Weekend has inspired a number of businesses in the Inland Northwest, including Spiceology Inc. and iCPooch.

More than 30 competitors are signed up to participate in this year’s Sparks Weekend, an annual three-day event that provides Inland Northwest entrepreneurs with a space to pitch their business ideas. 

The event will be held Friday, Nov. 17, to Sunday, Nov. 19, at the Catalyst Building, at 601 E. Riverside, in Spokane’s University District. Competing teams are eligible to win up to $50,000 in investment, says Tom Simpson, president and CEO of Ignite Northwest.

“This is really intended to give people the opportunity and confidence to go out and pitch an idea,” says Simpson, who is also president of the Spokane Angel Alliance. “I’m a big believer that we need to have startups and new companies to really have a vibrant economy here. This is just a brick in the wall, one piece of the puzzle to try to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship and startups in our region.”

The event will be hosted by Eastern Washington University and the Spokane offices of Seattle-based McKinstry Co. The event is sponsored by several organizations that are based in Spokane or have a presence here, including Avista Corp., Washington Trust Bank, Spokane International Airport, Greater Spokane Incorporated, Cowles Ventures LLC, Spokane County, Uptic Studios Inc., Idaho Central Credit Union, U.S. Bank, and the Flywheel Investment Conference.

Spokane-based Spiceology Inc. and Beardbrand LLC are examples of successful teams  that initially presented at Sparks Weekend, or the event’s predecessor, Startup Weekend Spokane, says Simpson.

Another well-known winner is Brooke Martin, who at 12 years old, won the competition with her idea for an automated dog treat dispenser called iCPooch and went on to present on the “Shark Tank” television show.

Karina Elias
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Reporter Karina Elias covers the banking and finance industry. A California native, she attended the University of California at Santa Barbara. Karina loves salsa dancing, traveling, baking, cuddling with her dog, and writing creative fiction and non-fiction.  

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