Energy, energy, energy!
If there was a theme for the Reno Startup Weekend, this would have been it. I couldn’t believe how many people were so energetic and passionate about the startups they were working on this weekend. It made me a little jealous that I wasn’t participating as a team member. Instead, I was there as a coach/mentor trying to provide any value to the teams needing some direction. I was just happy I could be there to help out in any way I could. In fact, that’s the question I asked of my friend, Bryan McCardle, who was an organizer for the event when I heard him talk about it. ‘How can I help?’ He told me that they needed coaches for the weekend and I immediately agreed to participate, but more on that later.
The event kicked off on Friday night with a couple speakers talking about what it takes to start a company and how to survive in a startup. Then the CEO of the Startup Weekend program, Marc Nager, got up to give a few more details about the event and how he’s seen these events grow since he started the first one four years ago. And then it was time for the pitches. Marc went around and gave everyone that wanted to pitch a number and they started lining up to present. It was great how involved Marc was with the entire weekend, you could tell he was really passionate about these events. When the pitches started, they ranged widely in their variety, most were application based, but there were a couple physical products too. In total, there were thirty people who got up and pitched ideas. After the pitches were done, groups started taking shape organically with non-pitching participants in the audience joining the team they were most interested in. The teams that didn’t get the required interest in their product then went to join another team that was forming. In the end, 10 teams remained and they were down to about 44 hours before they had to do their final pitch in front of the judges.
When I got back on Saturday, I sat down to do a little inqiri work and wait for teams to ask questions. I barely opened the laptop before a company approached me. They were working to make surfacing medical information to the patient and their family a smoother process. It was a great idea and I was able to give them some pointers on how they could store, gather, and subsequently use their data. Another company I was able to help along a little bit was an app that would allow you to take a virtual tour of the land below you as you were flying in an airplane. They are going to utilize Google Earth and overlay interesting facts and trivia to keep it interesting. It’s another wonderful idea. Bryan and I sat down with them and were able to help them validate a bit of their business model and with some of the data I’ve gathered from different geographic sources at previous companies, I gave them some ideas on where they could get some of the data they were going to require and what they could expect to pay for the services they were looking at using. Again, these teams had so much energy it was great to be a part of it all.
Sunday was much of the same, with teams busting their tails to get ready for the final presentations. I was doing a little prep work of my own for the presentations because Marc agreed to let the judging process utilize inqiri as the data gathering tool. All of that went well and the judges all said they liked using inqiri, which was a big win for us.
The final presentations were great… as you can see from the picture above, the place was packed and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the energy was amazing. Each of the teams did a great job of presenting their new business. Some of the teams were able to build a fully functioning prototype, others focused on building a really great business model and gaining some market validation.
This was a great weekend and it was very cool to have the Marc in attendance for the entire event! Congratulations to all of the participants and good luck to the teams moving forward! For more on Startup Weekend go to reno.startupweekend.org, and if you want to relive the weekend via tweets, head out to Twitter and search #swreno.