The hacking has begun.
Forty-three aspiring entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to a packed room of developers, designers, marketers and other entrepreneurial types to kick off Columbia Startup Weekend on Friday night at Columbia coworking space Museao.
The 60-second pitches included a wide array of ideas: Del-Caf, a coffee delivery service powered by a mobile application; DiffMD, a medical app that uses the differential diagnostic technique to more accurately assess symptoms; and JeffBot’s Office, an app providing a bathroom queue for the office.
Startup Weekend, which brings people with various talents together to build ideas into the foundations of viable businesses in the course of a weekend, is held in 726 cities across the world. It’s now in its fourth year in Columbia, and lead organizer Heidi Fuhrman said this year could be the best yet.
“The amount of people here hasn’t changed,” Fuhrman said, because the event caps participants. “But we have more sponsors and more community support every year. It’s going to keep getting better every year.”
After the pitches were complete, the 125 developers, designers and “non-tech” participants in attendance, many of whom were college students, voted for their favorite ideas. Eighteen pitches received enough votes to stay alive. Teams of five to eight members then sprawled throughout Museao and set to work.
“The point of the weekend is to see how much traction your idea can get,” Fuhrman said, “and it’s an excellent opportunity to connect with the entrepreneurship community in Columbia.”
For Luke Parham of Chicken Chasing, an idea designed to allow people to order food directly from farmers online, the weekend is a chance to scratch a longtime itch to start a pet project.
“I’ve had the idea for three or four years now, but it’s something that’s really hard to start working on just during my free time,” said Parham, who works as a developer at Carfax. “This provides an excuse to spend an entire weekend never leaving my computer.”
Zach Hockett of Vamped wants to utilize all of the resources concentrated during the weekend to build the online platform for his idea looking to connect of extreme sports enthusiasts’ user-generated video content with the brands they use and love.
Natalie Hardin, working alongside her husband, Jon, doesn’t anticipate completing Popcycle, a mobile app that would catalog a user’s wardrobe and recommend outfits based on the weather and what matches.
“We’re not going to get this all done in one weekend,” she said. “We need to see what problems exist and how we can solve them. We just want to get to the proof-of-concept stage and see how successful we can be in the future.”
But regardless of their goals, each team will have to come up with a final pitch for judges by 5 p.m. on Sunday.
“We have some people that will leave at 10 tonight and then be back at 10 tomorrow morning,” said Kelsey Meyer, the co-founder of Columbia content marketing firm Influence & Co. and a member of the Startup Weekend organizing team. “But we also have people who haven’t slept for the full 54 hours.”
Del-Caf team leader Nish Jain said he may end up in the latter camp. “I can’t sleep tonight, you know?” he said. “So many neurons are firing.”
The 18 ideas that made it through the initial pitch round (with descriptions provided by the teams and Startup Weekend organizers) are:
- Kory Davis’ Open Gallery Project – “Digital tipping system for supporting public art”
- Keith Politte’s EssentialSpots – “IBeacon interaction design and location-based services”
- Sarah Curtis’ Big Love Yoga Mats – “Yoga mats that are beautiful like rugs so you can leave them unrolled in your home”
- Natalie and Jon Hardin’s Popcycle – “Revolutionizing the way that you dress and shop for your wardrobe”
- Zach Pinnell’s Gulp – “Mobile app that allows you to pay cover for bars via your credit card”
- Zach Hockett’s Vamped – “A platform that pairs user generated video content with brands – targeted at outdoor and extreme sports enthusiasts”
- Luke Parham’s Chicken Chasing – “An online solution to help purchase food directly from farmers”
- Nish Jain’s Del-Caf – “A coffee delivery solution that allows you to get coffee from your favorite local shop via mobile app”
- Jabbock Schlacks’ EquipmentShare.com – “Peer-to-peer rental platform to make money from unused equipment”
- Billy Martin’s SocialEyes – “App that allows suseres to view live images, information, and find open spaces in restaurants, gyms, libraries, cafe, and bars”
- Sean Lander’s DockIt – “Gamified crowd sourced drug production”
- Anna Swacker’s The Wandering Turtle – “App that allows people to find travel ideas off the beaten path”
- Jeff Daniel’s The Krapp Score – “Humiliate your friends by giving them a Krapp Score that quantifies that stupid crap they post to Facebook”
- Orvil Savery’s Klabb – “Collaborative storytelling and sharing platform for creative and imaginative thoughts”
- Maghan Morin’s MaghanItWork – “An interactive fashion app that helps you find an outfit for every occasion”
- John Dupuy’s Maker Redux – “Peer-to-peer supply chin management for makers and small manufacturers”
- Clint’s JeffBot’s Office – “Bathroom management queue”
- Todd Schonhardt’s Lemonade Stand – “Apply philosophy of lemonade stand to teach kids to be entrepreneurs. We want to build a tool that makes fundraising as easy as a lemonade stand.”