I spent the entirety of this past weekend at Twin Cities Startup Weekend 4. Startup weekend is a 54 hour event which brings together entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and more to launch a tech startup business in one weekend. Startup Weekends are held in different cities almost every weekend of the year throughout the world. There just so happened to be 8 different startup weekends occurring throughout the US, the UK, Egypt, and more this past weekend. After working through the entire weekend with little sleep, I'm still exhausted, but I learned more about starting a business, working side by side with developers, and working together with people of all different disciplines in one weekend than I have combined in the rest of my life - all while designing anything and everything needed by our 8 person team.
The event starts on Friday with 60-second pitches by anyone who has an idea for a startup. After hearing about 50 pitches and voting on the best, about 18 teams organically formed from the 160 participants and got to work. I had my eye set on a few different ideas, but ultimately decided to join a team of developers and business folk looking to change the way deals from services like Groupon and Livingsocial are targeted at consumers. The mobile application, Petri, allows merchants to target consumers in real time and push conditional deals to them based on their location data. If that doesn't make sense, how about an example: Say that 100 people check into the Gopher football game at TCF stadium- using Petri, the Buffalo Wild Wings manager across the street could directly target consumers checked in at the game and push a deal for 1/2 price appetizers at their restaurant good for after the game.
Of course, there can only be one winner at the end of Startup Weekend, voted on by a panel of professional judges and investors, and ultimately Nifty Gifter won the hearts of the panel. However, that didn't stop Petri from getting an honorable mention for best overall design. Our final presentation included a real working prototype of the application that our team hopes to continue to work on and eventually launch!
I could write so much more about Startup Weekend, so feel free to ask me any questions and be sure to check out Startup Weekend next year!
P.S. Here is a list of all of the startups that presented this weekend.