After a whirlwind weekend of work and 17 presentations Sunday evening, StaffedUp, a platform designed to make hiring easier for small businesses in the service and retail industries, took home the top prize from the fifth Columbia Startup Weekend.
The idea for StaffedUp was born out of frustrations Billy Giordano faces in his job as general manager of Room 38, a Columbia restaurant and lounge he co-founded.
“In a busy season, I’ll get up to 100 applicants, emails, phone calls, resumes,” Giordano said. “I can’t keep up.
“StaffedUp is a complete web-based solution that eliminates paper applicants and resumes, funneling all applicants to your online portal, allowing you to qualify the database, communicate and hire effectively and efficiently.”
StaffedUp’s team came together after Giordano and other participants pitched ideas on Friday night. Teams then spent the weekend conducting market research, recruiting customers and building out products in preparation for presentations Sunday night.
Giordano said he was lucky to have the right people to build the prototype. The team also reached out to potential customers during the weekend, and Giordano said the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. He said the group plans to continue work on the website and hopes to sign some contracts in the near future.
StaffedUp’s winnings included $2,000, the chance to pitch to Columbia’s Centennial Investors and three months at the Missouri Innovation Center, along with several other perks and prizes. The second- and third-place teams received $1,000 and $500, respectively, plus other assorted prizes.
“Our top three had all either sold something or had intent for customers,” said Brittany Hodak, one of the three judges and co-founder of entertainment company ZinePak. “Entrepreneurship is all about selling.”
Three teams received honorable mention: MedNed System, a mobile application to facilitate communication between patients and doctors; Pakity, a web-based service to help backpackers buy gear; and Al Core, a cloud-based artificial intelligence company that allows developers to brainstorm.
MedNed System presenter Monica Godbee, who is a graduate student at the University of Missouri, said she had been working on the idea with some classmates before Startup Weekend, but the progress made during this weekend amazed her.
“We created a product, which I never thought we could have done within a weekend,” Godbee said. “We created a working website and a mobile app. We have plans to launch this for trial in hospitals here in Columbia.”
Hodak said she was impressed by the progress the teams made between Friday night’s opening session and Sunday’s finale. She said she hopes other participants keep trying to find business ideas and working on problem solving.
“If you have entrepreneurial spirit, just because you didn’t have the idea this weekend doesn’t mean you aren’t an entrepreneur,” she said. “Maybe you will come back and win next year.”