Tool for connecting hunters and landowners bags top prize at Columbia Startup Weekend

The sixth Columbia Startup Weekend concluded Sunday with pitches for a variety of products and services. They ranged from an app that guides users to wineries to another app that insults users into going to the gym. But it was Huntclub, an app and website for connecting landowners with hunters, that took the top spot in the competition.

Huntclub works a little like Airbnb for hunting venues, helping people that want to take hunting trips find landowners willing to host the excursions. Huntclub bills itself as a cheaper alternative to hunting clubs.

The Huntclub team said Sunday it had already made a $3,000 sale over the weekend, which drew praise from the Startup Weekend judges.

Armin Murtic pitches for his team called Losers Up. The team’s app provides negative reinforcement to the user if he/she does not meet his/her fitness goals. The app includes a social network where your friends can also comment on your fitness routine. Mortice calls it a “newsfeed of insults." | Maria Jose Valero/Missouri Business Alert
Armin Murtic pitches for his team, called Losers Up. The team’s app uses negative reinforcement to get users to work out. | Maria Jose Valero/Missouri Business Alert

For its win, Huntclub received a prize package that includes $2,000, three months of office space at the Missouri Innovation Center and a launch party at Craft Beer Cellar. The team also will have the chance to pitch at several upcoming events: a Centennial Investors meeting, the Bringing Up Business week pitch competition, 1 Million Cups Columbia and Grassroots Entrepreneurs.

EZ4070, an app to help workers calculate tips and avoid being overtaxed, finished second. Formocity, a tool for helping people build web forms, took third.

The idea for Huntclub has been in the works since before Startup Weekend began on Friday. Cooper Price, a member of the winning team, said the concept originally came from his teammate, Keegan Burkett.

“The idea has been floating around since last Startup Weekend, so we did nothing with it for a year,” Price said. “He contacted me this week and told me, ‘Let’s do it.’ So it just kinda happened.”

Another Huntclub team member, Kelse Veenstra, said the group put a big emphasis on getting customer feedback during the weekend.

“We just focused on getting sales and matching landowners and hunters, and the idea was validated, as we saw,” Veenstra said. “We got $3,000 in one day.”

Judges Mike Knoop (from left), John Hall and Greg Bier listens to teams present their 10-minute pitches during the final night of Columbia Startup Weekend 2016 at Veterans United. | Maria Jose Valero/Missouri Business Alert
Judges Mike Knoop (from left), John Hall and Greg Bier listen to teams present their 10-minute pitches Sunday night. The judges gave winner Huntclub high marks for validating its product with customers. | Maria Jose Valero/Missouri Business Alert

The event’s judges — Greg Bier, a business professor at the University of Missouri, Mike Knoop, co-founder of Zapier, and John Hall, co-founder of Influence and Co. — stressed the difficulty of their final decision and the potential possessed by many of the teams that came together over the weekend.

Alyssa Patzius, lead organizer of the event and vice president of client experience at Influence and Co., said Startup Weekend is evidence of Columbia’s potential for entrepreneurship.

“Columbia is known as one of the top Startup Weekends in the country,” she said. “And for a town as small as it is, it just shows the power in the city limits here.”

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