The accessibility of the 3D printer has leveled the field for innovators and put greater emphasis on the importance of engineering and design. Disruptive ideas require that design-thinking and iteration become an integral part of product development.

And so does every other idea — be it software, hardware, or a public service. That’s why Jaycon Systems launched the Space Coast PitchSeries last Friday, a free series of events for innovators to connect with local Leaders in Innovation to make their idea a reality.

Jaycon’s director of communications, Jenna Buehler, introduced the crowd of innovators to the night’s featured Leaders in Innovation, people who have each contributed $100 to the May 1st PitchChallenge award pool because they believe in the future of entrepreneurship in the Space Coast.

“Here we have 40 people gathered in a room who are here to witness an idea that had not ever been done before at Jaycon Systems,” Buehler said. “The future of the startup ecosystems begins with everyone in this room and we can’t thank you enough for your support.”

A Public Service Broadcast music video of break-dancers in space suits played on repeat at the engineering firm while free pizza and craft beer was served to people discussing new ideas for partnerships, current obstacles, and the beginning of conversations that may yield seed funding.

Following the introduction, Buehler moderated a Q&A with registered patent attorney at Widerman Malek, Dan Pierron about how startups can protect their ideas.

His advice: protect yourself as best you can before you arrive and avoid going into technical details about your idea’s fundamental DNA, if possible.

“It’s important to know that there are pros and cons to patent protecting your idea and, also, open sourcing your idea,” Pierron said. “The cost of patent protection can be expensive depending on the nature of the idea and that protection may have limits, but the cost for open sourcing your idea is control.”

The first-ever Leader in Innovation for the series, Geri Burke, followed the Q&A with a structure for developing strategies in accordance with her “Innovation Pyramid,” a concept that Burke references in her new book, The Key to Innovation Success.

In addition to incorporating insight and analysis into the innovation process, startups received one-on-one workshop attention. There they explored the fundamentals of what venture capitalists want to see, prior to investing in your idea: a coachable team and a clear path for revenue.

“It’s important to surround yourself with people who have the capacity to mastermind with you,” Burke said. “Henry Ford and Carnegie went camping together, they shared ideas and exchanged knowledge as part of their strategy for success.”

These mastermind teams have the potential to exist everywhere—especially in the Space Coast where talent is everywhere, according to Burke. She says Congress’s action to double down on budget cuts to planetary science by 20 percent earlier this year has left behind a restless pool of engineering talent and an anxious startup ecosystem.

Jaycon Systems believes that by giving these ad hoc teams an opportunity to collide with the right networks and know-how, the Space Coast will continue its legacy of making moonshot ideas, realities.

In the pursuit of their second series, Jaycon & the Women’s Business Center at Florida Tech are teaming up to give local startups access to the national InnovateHER competition, which offers $30K in awards and is co-sponsored by Microsoft. 

The way it works: three judges at the PitchSeries hosted by Jaycon Systems on March 27th 6 p.m. will select one local startup to select one local winner as a state finalist who, if selected by the U.S. Small Business Association committee, will compete for awards and prize money totaling $30,000 during National Small Business Week, May 4–8, 2015, in Washington, D.C. This is a great opportunity to network and gain exposure at a nation-wide event that’s co-sponsored by Microsoft.

The winner can be a man, woman, or team with a product or service idea that (A) has a measurable impact on women and families (B) has the potential to be commercialized (C) fills a need in the marketplace. The most important factor: its potential to be commercialized.

The U.S. Small Business Association asks that all applicants to InnovateHER submit a business plan prior to March 23rd. Business plans can be submitted to jenna@jayconsystems.com.

For more information, check out this post on InnovateHER.