This weekend, at the invitation of Jon Rossi, one of the organizers, I attended the fifth iteration of Startup Weekend in Boulder, my first. The intense, rapid ramp-up version of startup life this event offers was intriguing and because Startup Weekend concept was incubated by Andrew Hyde in Boulder I wanted to see it for myself. I'd heard that Startup Weekend Boulder has evolved since it's earlier more chaotic, less organized days and they were right. The organizers (including Dave Mayer and Matt Bernier) were extremely organized and managed the event well so the only chaos was on the part of the teams, which…is expected given the nature of this kind of event.
The event kicked off Friday night in the TechStars bunker with advice from local entrepreneurs Micah Baldwin (Graphic.ly), Eric Marcoullier (OneTrueFan), Niel Robertson (Trada), and Chris Vieville (Snap Engage). The event was sold-out with people coming to the attend the event from as far away as South Africa and Nova Scotia. To pay? To create a startup? Over the weekend? Yep. That's dedication. The passion of the participants was clear when more than half the group pitched an idea–some even pitched two. A wide range of ideas were presented from a digital currency to geo-location for baby-friendly bathrooms to crowd sourced life coaching and even a steak toaster. That one had us all salivating for steak but it didn't get picked. In the end, eight were chosen among the 37 original ideas, teams were assembled through an organic self-selection process and the real work began.
On Saturday the chaos that's an inherent part of an event like this bubbled up as some teams changed and at least one nearly pivoted. Here is Tamara of SIMclip talking about her team.
In the end eight teams were ready to present on Sunday to a panel of judges and a crowded room of participants and supporters. Betting on startups is pretty much the only thing I might bet on I came up with a list of my favorites. I was pretty proud that that the judges agreed with 2 of my 3 choices. Here they are the top three teams for Startup Weekend Boulder 5.
1st Place: SIMclip
Solves the problems of not enough money and time by making it easier to use digital coupons. This was one of my picks as well because it's got a specific audience with a pain point AND is expected to be a 44 million industry by 2014. I was also really impressed with how well the team understood the market and came up with a product and future feature sets based on their research. Really well done.
2nd Place: ID Weeds
Helps the medical marijuana industry manage inventory through a web based management system that allows dispensaries to communicate surpluses between peers. This was one of my other picks. Given the nature of their industry they will need to work on impression management but the team and the idea is solid. There are currently 717 dispensaries in Colorado alone and it's projected to be a 100 Billion industry.
Wish You Nu
A site that collects wisdom from people around with the world answering the question “What do you wish you knew when you were 20?” This was not one of my picks even though it's very inspiring and will definitely have impact. The only reason I didn't pick it was that they didn't present a business model and well, as a business person with an eye for the bottom line this is critical in my book. After the event I found out they have some ideas for building revenue so I'll be eager to see what they do.
The rest of the teams included: Bridge My Path, Doody Duty, edyou, Sixth Gear and Snap Games–all really interesting ideas with strong teams. I hope all the participants continue to follow their startup passions whether it's one of these ideas or a new one. I will be keeping my eye out for all this great local talent.
And as for you…
Ever considered having your own startup or have an idea you want to see executed?