Startup Weekend is a 54 hour event that brings together Wichita designers, developers, entrepreneurs, and experts from all domains to do amazing things.
Update: Next one is April 17-19, 2015.
Truly creative people!
The Labor Party hosted the event this year, which made for a great collaborative atmosphere for all the teams. It was fun trying to “spy” on the other teams and pretend to be able to tell if your team was working above par, or not. Amazingly, no one gave anything away, and the pitches at the end of the day came as complete surprises. There wasn’t one that didn’t truly impress us (and the judges). It was an honor to work with them.
Wicked Good Fun!
Sergio Ferreira, our wicked good facilitator, had a Boston accent and we teased him relentlessly about the way he said certain words. Fun times.
The Friday night speakers were Katherine & Conan Fugit of Lamphouse Photo Co. It was great to hear about how their company has grown in the last year.
Later that evening, we all got to know each other, feasted on yummy Ziggy’s Pizza, and played a game that lead to hilarious (Food Porn, by Jessica Wasson), and not so hilarious pitches. We narrowed the field by voting on which ones would ‘stick’ for the weekend and those final choices lead to team creation, as we all picked which team we wanted to work with.
Being a foodie, I voted for Food Porn. Sadly it lost. I went with my second best, “Overhead”, which would provide instructional and troubleshooting videos for teaching K-12 engineering. Happily, our team included the funny and smart Jessica Wasson. Over all, a win-win in my book.
We really liked Alex Wernli’s pitch about how to help teachers & students with problem solving during STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education activities. Alex is a real world engineer who often freelances outside his day job, helping teachers past stumbling blocks that happened that week in their school day. A typical question might be, “We did all this while building our bread board (a board for making an experimental model of an electric circuit), and the light won’t turn on. What did we do wrong?”
Calvin and I, being a couple of geeks, and having suffered through some of those types of school days with teachers who got stuck, we could see how this idea would solve a real world problem.
Saturday team work. A division of labor.
Our media would be short You Tube videos that would trouble shoot a single problem withing a STEM activity. In other
words, we were not going to build long videos that showed the whole project, but just snippets. Enough to get them through the part they were stuck on. If they got stuck later in the project, they could then watch that video.
Also on our team, was another engineer from NIAR, Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research. Kim was a huge help in creating the business plan, with dollars and cents, R&D and much more.
2C was responsible for creating content marketing and the website demo, as well as contacting the home school community to see if they would purchase this product, and at what price point. Home schoolers were significantly receptive to the idea. We realized this would be a big part of our market, along with school systems. See the survey here.
Several of our other members moved to a different location where they could design the logo, write the script, and film a sample video tape for our final pitch in front of the judges.
No Sabbath Day rest. Too much caffeine.
Sunday was spent drinking a lot of caffeinated beverages, staring into space, and dragging oneself back to concentration on what we were supposed to be doing. The Labor Party has never been quieter.
Calvin, our Director of Development, was creating code like a mad scientist, while I continued to refine the website demo content. Not an easy task, when half the team was gone filming. Ha, exactly! So where are those engineers when I need to ask them a question? Guess I need a video for that!
Toward the end of the day, our team filtered back in, slowly, but surely, all looking like they needed for caffeine. By five that night, we had been working on this project for around 50 hours. That’s what you call total immersion.
Final Pitches and Judging
At 5 pm, the all women panel of judges arrived. What an impressive group of ladies!
- Jami Jerman, Lead Designer & Senior UX/UI Developer at Baseline Creative
- Mia Lee, Owner & Creative Director of Lee Media
- Wendy Veatch, Director of Outreach Programming at WSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship
Our turn came and we pitched our hearts out. That 5 mins was up in a nano-second. Oops, that was a great lesson in the speed of sound. Got to learn to hasten the pitch next time. However we got good marks for: solving a real world problem, having included the home school market, for a good website demo, and for a GREAT video product.
Look at that, the video we made for Startup Weekend Wichita ended up in the Wichita Business Journal!!
In the end, we came in second, just after a very slick presentation from Kenton Hansen’s team, RentRep, who won both the judges’ and community choice awards for a website that would allow tenants and landlords to rate one another.
Are you coming to the next one?