I have said it before and I will say it again. When you attend a Startup Weekend it will be the greatest weekend of the entire calendar year. Sunday night when you finally put your head on your pillow you may not feel it was the greatest weekend ever at that point, but once you finally get all rested up, you will be all ready for the next one.
All the amazing participants. I LOVE these people!!!
Startup Weekend Iowa City was October 3rd - 5th, 2014 at the University of Northern Iowa BioVentures Center.
It was organized by the great David Tominsky who also organizes Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids. David also received help from some passionate entrepreneurs: Andy Stoll, Josh Krakauer, Mark Nolte, Ashley Zierath, Devyn Alexander, Sarah Binder, and Joshua McNary. Some of these organizers were participants of the Cedar Rapids Startup Weekend and they were inspired enough from it that they wanted to help to make another Startup Weekend in the area happen!
Pitch order for the Sunday judging event
The event brought around 70 participants with around 45 pitching ideas with 60 seconds a piece.
I always work to pitch an idea even if I don't want to work on the idea over the weekend so this event I pitched the idea of a website dedicated to alumni of Startup Weekend can view previous projects created during Startup Weekend events. So after the weekend comes to an end, each team gets their own dedicated page to this website where they can post news about the progress of the team and the project after the weekend is complete. Not many projects continue to be worked on after the weekend, but many times they sprout other ideas, get a new team started to work on something else, or the team members quit their day job and get to work on the project they worked on that weekend. So this is a place where we can all stay in touch with what teams progress after the weekend. I feel the Startup Weekend organization needs this tool and I was hoping we could bring it to them as a project.
In the zone. Pitching my idea.
After the 45 or so got pitched, 14 of those ideas got a very large number of votes from the attendents.
After those 14, 12 teams were formed and dedicated to be worked on from participants. Some of the projects would include...
Construction projects are not very efficient. You never know when the work materials are going to be loaded to the work site.
CoDrivr is a web and mobile application that tracks the progress of work site delivery trucks and notifies you when the materials are delivered to the site with a picture confirmation of the delivery. It helps keep construction managers on top of their projects they are reponsible for.
Subscribr took 1st place on Sunday night from their amazing pitch they delivered to the judges.
You know all those online subscription services that you pay for like Netflix, Pandora, or Spotify? Do you really use all of them? This was the idea that brought up Subscribr to alert you when these services are going to be charging your credit card next and allows you a quick and easy way of unsubscribing from the services. As the weekend progressed, Subscribr changed their business market and model and instead of focusing on individuals, it focuses on small businesses to allow them to keep track of the subscriptions their employees use and do not use.
JobScreenr took an honorable mention from the judges as they felt the product would be very helpful to them as business owners who continuously feel the hiring process could be improved.
JobScreenr is a mobile application that acts as your digital resume that you can send to recruiters, they are reviewed from recruiters, the recruiter then sends you a number of questions that you must video record your answers to, then finally you answer those questions and send them back to the recruiter. This allows a streamlined method to the recruiting process. Why use paper resumes that do not tell much? JobScreenr wants to make the process more efficient and personal.
- Burn and Earn
This project was unique because it was actually thought about during one of our ice breakerers on Friday night minutes before the pitches.
Burn and Earn is designed to get individuals to want to work out. Working out is a big commitment and not many people focus on doing it. Burn and Earn rewards you for working out with a mobile app that gives you credits when you work out that you can then redeem for coupons to local businesses.
- My Pup!
My Pup! was one of my favorite ideas pitched this weekend, besides the one that I actually worked on, as I felt it was so clever and it may actually work.
My Pup! is a parenting tool used when their children come up to them and say "Please, please, please can we get a dog?! Pretty please!!!". A family getting a dog is a big commitment that kids are usually not prepared for which is what My Pup! is here to prove. It works as a 'virtual dog' that alerts you periodically throughout the day when the dog has to go outside, go for a walk, needs fed, or decides to make a mess on the carpet. When this alert comes to the phone, the kids must then take the phone and take it for a walk or get the cleaning supplies out and clean up the pretend mess. After using the app successfully for 21 days, the kids are rewarded with getting a dog.
- The Agropolis
The Agropolis was a great idea that was unique because it did not actually include a prototype software mockup. It was instead of business that was worked on my all business professionals working on a buisness model for the idea all weekend.
The Agropolis is a year long vertical farm where restaraunt owners are able to receive fresh produce all year long as they order it ahead of time on their website. It is not a greenhouse, it is a vertical farm to allow maximum efficiency and capacity to harvest a large gross for business owners to be able to serve their seasonal plates all year long.
How I spent my weekend -- me2
As for what I worked on, myself along with my team (from left to right): Thong Nguyen, Doug Cloven, Jordan Nelson, Matthew Jennings, Lee Keong Leong, Isaac Tominsky, me, Larry Boateng Asante, and Brad Kennedy created me2. Larry and I took care of the development side working closely with Brad and Thong for design. Lee, Jordan, Matt and Doug worked hard on the business model while the 11 year old Isaac helped us tremendously answering any questions that we had along with helping each step of the way develop the app prototype.
Logo created during the weekend for me2 by Brad Kennedy
me2 is a mobile app for kids who are going through a rough patch and need the support of other kids around the world who have gone through the same problem. When kids are feeling a little down, they usually go to their parents because they do not really have a better network of support when they are that young. The problem is, parents usually cannot relate to the issue and provide support for their kids or do not take the issue to heart to really help them through the situation. me2 is a network of kids around the world who are there to help their fellow young ones to give them the support they need to get out of this situation they are in. Young people go through many of the same issues together, so through the app, you are able to connect with the young child who is feeling a little down by telling them that you have gone through that situation as well before and they can help them through it. In times where the kids cannot relate to the child having the issue, you can instead send them some love saying that you are thinking about them and you hope the best for them.
Our team had the time of our life during this weekend in an extremely fast paced environment trying to get as much as we possibly could by 5pm Sunday for the judges. By the end, we were able to get some business research done, began to form the business plan, and get a social media presence along with getting an app prototype created.
When Sunday night came, we went up to the judges for our chance of the title as the winning team of Startup Weekend Iowa City 2014. As Isaac used the prototype app live to the crowd on a projector screen, Doug gave a fabulous talk about the vision and inspriation of our app. Doug, the one who came up with the idea in the first place, shared with the crowd a personal story of his as a young child mentor and when a young child came up with him and shared with him her story of being bullied at school. It really portreyed the whole reason our whole team was there that weekend, to help out the kids in any way we could to get them on their feet and think of the world in a more positive way.
Doug pitching to the judges while Isaac demos the app live
After the judging, we may not have received an award, but we talked with many people who gave us praise in our idea and hope for the future. We even had a feature news story on KCRG KCRG TV9 news story at 6 and 10pm on Saturday night.
Our team was the feature of the KWWL news and made the top story!
It was a weekend to remember forever. I got to catch up with people who I met in Cedar Rapids Startup Weekend including members who were on my previous team, participants who asked for an update on the idea that I pitched at the Cedar Rapids event, as well as some other members of teams catching up on life since Cedar Rapids. I hope to see lots of the same people again next month at the Cedar Falls event.
Thank you David and the team who put on the event. Again, they truly are my favorite events I attend the entire year. David said that he is planning on keeping up Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Startup Weekends alternating between the two every 6 months. So until then, I'm going to keep on building. Get back to work everyone. Can't wait to catch up again soon!