It’s exciting to watch people start, in earnest, their entrepreneurial journeys. That’s part of what makes me a passionate facilitator of Startup Weekend. Between the skills I have as a service designer, and the programming Startup Weekend created, inducing a flowing event is possible in almost any circumstance.
This past weekend didn’t have any crazy circumstances, thankfully. I’m told Startup Weekends without heat or power are less fun. Thanks to the weather and the gracious sponsors at the University of Western Florida, a building on their campus was made available, for 54-hours straight. And that was a fact teams took advantage of, with some of them staying in the building until 7 AM.
I wasn’t up quite so late. A quick trip home, some time playing with my intrepid traveling companion, and I was out. But not for long — teams show up early to get back to work, and there’s coffee and food to think about. Again, the sponsors came through for the event. This really tells you something about the mindset in the community: everyone plays a part, as much as they can. Universities, restaurants, and others.
It’s appropriate to have Startup Weekend events at Universities. There’s a common mission of education, and increasingly, that mission is carried out by excellent on-campus programs like UWF’s Innovation Institute, Wentworth’s Accelerate Lab, or UCLA’s Startup UCLA program.
Of course the most important feature of the weekend were the participants. Somewhere north of 75 people joined the event on Friday night, with almost a third pitching an idea. We warmed up with my favorite, “Rock, Paper, Scissors, War!” The round ended in one of the more evenly pitched battles I’ve seen — usually one side of the other ends up being a bit bigger because of venue and people layout at the beginning of the game.
Some great ideas came next. No offense to any of the other pitches, I think my personal favorite was Pensa-Cola. Alas, that one didn’t last the weekend. Thankfully, the pitcher, Jesse did! He stuck it out. And was a really nice guy!
In the end, nine teams pitched on Sunday night. The judges had a tough choice as usual. In the end, ResidenSeek, a company that helps those seeking medical residencies simplify a very, very complicated process. They were followed by IRL Quests: Yelp meets Ingress. Third place went to Shopacity: a local Uber for local grocery delivery.
It’s always a pleasure working with the organizing teams and participants at Startup Weekend events. I’m looking forward to the next one I’ll be facilitating, next month in Los Angeles! Hope to see you there.
About the Author:
Ethan Bagley is a service designer, facilitator, philosopher, and many other things. He lives in the greater Los Angeles area with his wife and dog, and travels the world solving problems as a part of EB Advising. When he’s not creating solutions, he’s volunteering with Hack for LA, Atheists United, and other mission-driven organizations.