7Feb
startup-weekend

Startup Weekend Round Up

startup-weekend

Alex is on vacation but he was nice enough to let me post about Startup Weekend – SLC while it’s still fresh on everyone’s minds.

It was an awesome event all around. I met and worked with many great people and enjoyed every minute.

I thought it’d be cool to do a short profile for each project from #SWSLC. I’ve linked to as many projects as I could find. Remember that all projects are in varying degrees of completeness, but I wanted to give as much of a taste of each as possible!

1.  FB Wedding Address Helper
If you know someone who’s been engaged recently, you’ve probably seen the inevitable Facebook group for collecting friend and family addresses. If you’ve been engaged, then you know what a pain it is to copy and paste every single address into a spreadsheet. With Facebook Wedding Address Helper, that problem is solved.

FBWAH is a Facebook app that collects your friends’ addresses and compiles them into a neat spreadsheet. In addition, you can tell the app to inform your friends where you’re registered, and send thank you cards once the whole party is over.

As someone who got married just over a month ago I appreciate the pain this solves. Add to that the tight integration with registries and thank you cards and you get a sweet wedding information package on a platform that everyone is already using.

2. Tasquatch
The Tasquatch team went out and polled local businesses and found out some startling data: not all employees know what they’re supposed to be doing, and not all employers know what their employees are doing. Add to that the complexities that arise when you send out employees to work in remote locations and suddenly you have a business that is flying blind.

Enter Tasquatch. The app lets employers create, track, and analyze the tasks of employees–remotely. This ensures employees know exactly what to do (it’s written on their phone) and because it updates in real time helps the employer see what still needs to be done. Reports with key productivity metrics can also be created, to highlight the best employees or to point out where improvement is necessary.

If you have too many employees and can’t keep track of what they’re all doing, Tasquatch might be a good solution for you.

3. Divorcify
As one of the early crowd favorites, it was apparent that Divorcify was going to fill a big hole. Imagine yourself divorced but still having to talk to your ex-spouse (and their new significant other) on a regular basis about your kids’ schedules, alimony, etc. Divorcify eliminate the constant reminder of how much you dislike your ex. With synchronized calendars, automated messages, and easy-to-use templates, Divorcify helps you convey necessary information without having to interact with those you’d rather avoid.

4. Tweet Graph
The brainchild of OraBrush‘s very own Austin Craig, TweetGraph takes the firehose of data created in Twitter and turns it into actionable, valuable data that organizations can use to discover trends about their customers, issue highly targeted discounts, and gain valuable insights into the minds of their loyal fan base.

Austin said it best in his first 60 second pitch: at the Superbowl there were a record 13,000 tweets per second, but that data is worthless unless it is mined and transformed into actionable information.

Here’s a video of their presentation along with the following Q&A.

5. Afterthought
Have you ever tried to keep a journal? Most of us probably get a few entries done,  but with our busy lives it’s easy to leave the journal on the back burner.

What we do find time for though are sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Afterthought realized that if you combine all the posts from an individual’s entire online social graph, you’d produce a pretty good online journal. Meaning that when you check into Foursquare, post to Facebook, and take a picture with Instagram all that information is compiled into a single post for the day. This way you can create a journal using data that already exists.

6. Cinch
Cinch was one of the most polished projects at Startup Weekend.  They also solved a problem that would generate a large amount of additional revenue for their customers.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of websites that look beautiful on a computer but terrible on mobile devices. For whatever reason, many site owners haven’t yet developed a mobile version of their site. When those owners send emails customers often receive and open them on their phones. Since the site doesn’t display properly conversion rates suffer. Enter Cinch.

Cinch creates mobile-friendly views of complicated webpages on demand. So instead of designing an entire mobile site, Cinch takes the one you’ve already optimized for computers and makes it look great on a mobile device. Their site already shows their fully functioning product. You should go check it out. And then remind yourself they did the whole thing in only two days.

7. My Kart
My good friend Blaine Farr pitched a product that solves a pain in a market so big you’ll wonder why you’d never thought of it yourself.

I often find myself strolling through brick and mortar stores or even online seeing things I want, but can’t currently afford. I don’t have any way of tracking all these items or how much they cost, so I quickly forget them and move on with my life.

With My Kart, customers tag products they like and set a threshold price, i.e. how much they’d be willing to pay for the product. When the product goes on sale and gets below the threshold, My Kart emails the customer to alert them. Simple but effective. And the business model is very lucrative, too.

I asked Blaine after they won Startup Weekend what he thought about My Kart and the process of creating a product, to which he said (and I’m paraphrasing): “It probably won’t be me, but someone is going to make a lot of money from an idea just like My Kart.”

8. Price My MRI
Their presentation began with a cartoon of a man about to get an MRI with a thought bubble saying: “I wonder how much this is going to cost.” That quote sums up the entire premise of Price My MRI.

In the US we don’t know the cost of medical procedures. For a thousand different reasons it’s not transparent and there’s no one to ask. Often patients don’t know how much they were paying until they get the final bill. It sounds crazy but it’s true!

Price My MRI helps add transparency to the costs of medical procedures. By bidding out the procedure patients are better able to understand what they’re paying and find a procedure that is more likely to fit into their budget or insurance plan.

9. Unicorn Sex Appeal
This was my favorite presentation. The team created augmented reality software that could see other people “playing” the app on their phone, and then put the picture of a unicorn over their head. That doesn’t sound very cool in writing, but believe me it was incredible to see in person. To my point: the entire crowd rose to its feet and started cheering USA! USA! USA!

Take a look at the picture on their site to get a better idea. The software is amazing.

10. GeekSpression
You ever seen a self-described computer nerd try and ask a girl out? Maybe you even were that person! Either way, as the founder said: the awkward things that geeks do to girls “just shouldn’t happen.”

GeekSpression is a social skills consulting service. Geeks sign up for 1 hour sessions where they interact with social consultants through video chats. The employee on the other side gives tips and recommendations on how to improve the customer’s social skills. Given geeks have the need and usually the money, this is a higher priced service that could eventually be built into other verticals, too.

11. HackLadder
You need only search Twitter to see how much people liked HackLadder. “I know 20 developers who would play every weekend” felt like a popular comment. It pits coders against each other in matches of real-time coding challenges. Stats are kept, scores tallied, and the best developers rise to the top. This info is valuable to hiring managers, who often have to sift through dozens of paper resumes. Why not hire the guys who have already proved they can code by competing against each other?

12. [UN]Cool Points
Originally pitched as “Cool Points” to give props to your friends for doing, uh, cool things, the team pivoted to the exact opposite when they realized that people would be more likely to share uncool points with their friends for doing dumb and funny things. This team was able to develop a ton in a short amount of time. They have a functioning Facebook login, website, and even submitted their app to the Apple App Store, which is now pending approval

13. RateMyTenants
Being a landlord can suck. Between having to collect rent, finding tenants, maintaining the property, and making sure the tenants don’t destroy the place, owning a property can feel like having a 2nd full time job.

RateMyTenants hopes to change that. By collecting behavior-based information about tenants from landlords and organizing it into an easy-to-use searchable database,  RateMyTenants hopes to help landlords who want more information about an applicant. Management companies often make manual phone calls to old landlords as part of a background check, but the smaller owners don’t want to spend that extra time. And that’s who RateMyTenants are targeting.

14. Buttermilk
I’d heard about Buttermilk’s founder, Blake Ballard, owner of Spark Restaurant in downtown Provo, Utah, but had never met him until my first day at Startup Weekend. We ended up chatting for about 30 minutes. He’s a great, smart guy. You should all check out his restaurant, too. Great atmosphere, drinks, and dining.

Blake came up with the idea behind Buttermilk to help solve a problem he encounters far too often at Spark: running out of things. From food items, to receipt paper and togo boxes, you have to keep track of it all, and it’s a huge pain.

Buttermilk helps restaurant owners keep track of which employees have done their counts and alerts the owner when the count is below “par.” Not only does it help track item counts but it also keeps employees accountable. And the name is just awesome.

Props to Blake and his team for putting together an app that helps solve a real problem he and other restaurant owners hopefully won’t have to endure anymore.

 

Startup Weekend was fantastic. I highly recommend attending if one is in your area. Not only will you learn a ton about creating a product from concept to code, but you’ll meet a lot of smart, driven people who will definitely be able to help you further down the road.

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About Trevor McKendrick

  • mmonsen

    Nice wrap up! Sounds like a great event… I’m sorry I missed it. I’d like to see what you learned in this post too, yknow, for those of us who couldn’t go. :)

    • http://trevormckendrick.com Trevor McKendrick

      I think everyone’s takeaway is different, but for me I learned that the process to build a product isn’t that difficult. It’s just a matter of making the effort to freaking do it. Of course it has to be the *right* product, but that leads to takeaway #2, which is the importance of validating your product with potential customers.

      You can’t let them design the product for you or it’ll end up doing way too many things. But you learn a ton more in 5 minutes talking to a customer with screenshots than you do after an hour discussing around the table with your team. 

      Customers don’t always know exactly what they want, much like those famous Henry Ford and Steve Jobs quotes. But they *definitely* know what they don’t want. Figuring that out is half the battle right there.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Cooley/27709729 Tim Cooley

         I completely agree with the product validation thing.  I had read and heard about it a million times, but I didn’t realize how easy it was.  I am in the process of starting my own thing and once I got back from startup weekend I created a survey to get some customer feed back.  It has been awesome and I have had about 125 people take the survey so far.  I am not sure how many people I would need, but that is a good start, with great results.  I did wont to reconfirm that it was amazing to see that most business ideas (especially tech one) can be done in a short amount of time, if given the space and the desire to make them happen.  i look forward to working with more people who have this desire.

  • Mwaters5

    Go Team Buttermilk !!!!

  • http://twitter.com/zarinf Zarin Ficklin

    Great summary Trevor. Lots of talent there, and lot of energy. Best tech event in Utah that I’ve been to.

    • http://trevormckendrick.com Trevor McKendrick

      Thanks Zarin. It was great finally meeting you! Thanks for making our design stellar.

  • Dave Charbonneau

    most amazing biz event I’ve been to. I’m truly impressed and I want, no… I NEED more. Thanks, Al, for rocking Salt Lake – and to the MyKart (WeShop) team for taking us all the way! 

    • http://trevormckendrick.com Trevor McKendrick

      It was a great event all around! I went to school with Blaine Farr, so I was thrilled to see you guys come out at number 1!

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  • Ken Kaufman

    Sounds like a great event! Each one of these projects solves a real need, and they each have commercial-izable applications. I hope to hear more about their progress in the future.

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  • http://www.retailpitch.com/ Brad

    Wish I would have known about this. Looks like it was a great event.

    • http://trevormckendrick.com Trevor McKendrick

      It was awesome, you’re right. I believe they’re planning on doing them more frequently in Utah, so be looking for more info to come!

  • Mariobrey

     Tweet Graph was one of my favorites and they should be able to get investment since online analytics of social activity is huge today. Making sense of tweets is important for all businesses interested in engaging customers online. I remember reading something by Jacques Habra the investor about start-ups

    http://www.noospheric.com/about/jacques_habra/

    .

    Cheers,
    Mario B.

  • Drew Gilliland

    Divorcify was strange, but as a divorce attorney I am intrigued by it and will test it out.  Too many times I have had to call the other party’s lawyer just to relay a simple message. 

    • http://trevormckendrick.com Trevor McKendrick

      As I’m not very familiar with divorce I was quite surprised at the popularity of Divorcify. It’s apparent there’s a need there that someone might address.

  • http://linkedin.com/brandtpage Brandt Page

    Wow, I missed a heckuva weekend. Dang! I will be there next time, no question. I am going to start using some of these guys’ software with my own company http://launchleads.com

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