StartupGNV’s second ‘Startup Weekend Gainesville’ event of the year, the eighth such event in recent history, was held from October 12 through 14.
Startup Weekend brought together students, professionals, and inspired individuals looking to build a concept from scratch – In just 54 hours, small teams of participants and mentors pitched concepts, created prototypes, validated business ideas, and received feedback from experienced entrepreneurs, all culminating in a “pitch-off” to determine which concepts were most viable and in a position to succeed. GTEC, Santa Fe College’s Technology Entrepreneurship Center hosted the event with over 30 participants, culminating in final presentations at the CADE Garage.
The event kicked off on Friday, with dinner and networking. Participants and volunteers broke the ice with a few social exercises, and more than 30 1-minute elevator pitches were presented to the audience of more than 40. Of the 30 concepts, 5 moved through to be worked on throughout the weekend, with participants self-organizing teams and presentations.
On Saturday, local coaches and mentors met with teams to work on their ideas and lead them through work processes and validation. In some cases, teams pivoted their concepts completely. Some teams worked through both evenings to get as much time as possible to work on their pitches.
Sunday evening saw the culmination of the final presentations, led by Michael Norton, of TechStars. A panel of locally appointed judges took the stage with the pitching participants as they presented their concepts – With 5 minutes to pitch and 5 minutes of Q&A, the judges graded concepts on 3 basic criteria, each weighted equally.
How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they thought about (either solved or identified problems) competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, revenue model, etc?
Are teams building something that people actually want? How well does the team understand their customer and their needs? Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?
Execution and Design:
Has an MVP been established? Does it deliver a compelling and captivating UX? Were they able to demo a functional concept?
Matzoh: Gainesville’s first Jewish Deli Style food truck. Enjoy home-cooked comfort food, offering catering as well as event planning services, to cater to the the largest Jewish Student population in the United States.
Essence: This social game concept is a combination of retail wristband that ties to a mobile app and allows its players to collect virtual pets, train them, trade them, and battle them with friends.
Ecogen: Utilizing a combination of microbial fuel cells and solar panels, users will be able to generate power and charge small battery packs in the case of emergency or natural disaster.
Research Collaborators: A combination social and professional platform for scientific researchers to connect with each other.
TOPPERZ: An AR–based social company that allows retailers to utilize print media to promote interactive & incentive-based reward programs.
The judging panel, consisting of Paracosm founder Amir Rubin, lecturer at UF Engineering Innovation Institute, Dr. Melissa White, and founder of Web3Dev and an active angel investor, James Ruffer, selected Ecogen as the First Place finisher, with Research Collaborators in Second, and Matzoh in Third.