The Rapidian

Startup Weekend 2011 yields nine new projects

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About the media

Photo slideshow: User experience designer and Startup Weekend participant Paul Hart shares some of his favorite images of the weekend's antics. You can see the complete set on Flickr.

Audio: Snippits of the love fest among three team members of Boom or Bust, the winner of West Michigan's second annual Startup Weekend.

Bonus: Startup Weekend 2010 on The Rapidian

Boom or Bust team leader Adam DeLong practices his presentation.

Boom or Bust team leader Adam DeLong practices his presentation. /All thumbnail photos by Denise Cheng

Space was at such a premium that The Factory borrowed unrented rooms in the building.

Space was at such a premium that The Factory borrowed unrented rooms in the building.

Judging criteria for the presentations.

Judging criteria for the presentations.

Come year three, Startup Weekend will need to upgrade its space. On Friday night, 75 participants from as far as Lansing, Mich. crammed into The Factory (38 W. Fulton), a business incubator space in downtown Grand Rapids. Participants heard 21 pitches for tech-based startups and then organized into teams to tackle 10 of them.

"It was 54 hours of madness," said co-organizer Aaron Schaap. "The person who had the idea was then responsible for finding their teammates. It was kind of like the New York Stock Exchange - people were grabbing each other, there was dealing ... Everyone was trying to help each other out. Within about a half-hour, those teams were created and by nine o'clock that night, teams were already working on their ideas."

The weekend was peppered with local guest speakers from successful businesses who shared their perspectives from entrepreneurship to innovation to prototyping. The teams had till Sunday afternoon to collaborate, when they presented their progress to the audience and a panel of judges.

Each five-minute presentation was judged by four criteria: feasibility of the idea, progress over the weekend, presentation and the demo. The winning team would receive $200, punch cards to The Factory, free web hosting for three months, two free tickets to a local internet marketing conference and a feature in Rapid Growth Media's upcoming issue.

Boom or Bust took home the bacon with Verify Valid in second and Drink With Me in third.

"We're still figuring things out, but I'd just like to thank the whole team. They worked unbelievably hard," said Adam DeLong, who came up with the idea for Boom or Bust.

DeLong led a team of six that was captivated by his concept of rating images online as a "boom" or "bust." The team quickly realized there was no business model and switched gears to create interactive marketing for online advertisers, whose ads tend to be obtrusive, stale and employ poor targeting tactics.

"A lot of times when someone has an idea, they don't allow it to change or evolve or adapt," said team member Mike Marsiglia. "Adam was really open to taking suggestions."

"Keeping it at a real high level, too," added team member Matt Fletcher.

Startup Weekend organizers are already planning a "family gathering" for March, where event participants can catch up with one another.

"Last year, apparently only a couple of them went on and continued with it," said Casey DuBois, one of the organizers. "I think this year, it's a lot bigger, there are a lot bigger groups and a lot more time invested, so we'd like to see a lot more of them move on."


  • My BulkCo - Targets buying clubs, which are self-organized groups who band together to increase their purchasing power of bulk food prodcuts. My Bulkco helps buying club coordinators manage purchasing online and buy directly from multiple national and local vendors.
    Team size: 12
    Accomplished at Startup Weekend: Business strategy, coding, functioning website, stocking, branding, social media marketing, alternative revenue model
    Skills utilized: Coding, photography, design, wireframe, user interface development, user experience development, business, law

  • Local Lend - Local Lend partners with banks that screen high risk loans from local businesses for projects and upgrades and crowdsources a percentage of that loan to the community.
    Team size: 5
    Accomplished at Startup Weekend: Website, market research
    Skills utilized: Coding, business, law, marketing

  • REthink Water - Targeting colleges, REthink students can "check in" and refill reusable water bottles at locations with branded dispensers. Each time students check in, they accumulate points to spend at local businesses or fund causes. They also see the immediate impact of saving bottles.
    Team size: 5
    Accomplished at Startup Weekend: Layout for mobile app, user experience, advertising, revenue streams
    Skills utilized: Business, user interface, user experience
  • Verify Valid - Millions of physical checks are exchanged on a regular basis, and they are susceptible to fraud and insecurities. Verify Valid modernizes the checking system to exchange checks electronically on the web.
    Team size: 5
    Accomplished at Startup Weekend: Customer interface, user experience, workflows
    Skills utilized: Coding, user experience development, user interface development, market research, design

  • Chext - Specifically targeting those with joint bank accounts, this text messaging application allows users to text in the amount they spent, and it immediately auto-balances the joint checking account & texts both you and your partner the new balance.
    Team size: 6
    Accomplished at Startup Weekend: Messaging and narrative
    Skills utilized: Market research, communications, business planning

  • Factory Analytics - Compiles data from factory equipment to generate reports useful for management of small factories.
    Team size: 3
    Accomplished at Startup Weekend: Business model, product strategy, hardware research
    Skills utilized: Marketing research, marketing, hardware expertise

  • Boom or Bust - Interactive widget for online advertisers that couples targeted product ads with popular opinion of that product.
    Team size: 6
    Accomplished at Startup Weekend: Rough prototype, revenue model, elevator pitch
    Skills utilized: Business, coding, marketing

  • Drink With Me - For those flummoxed at the grocery store by wines and beers, snap a photo, and the mobile app will identify the alcohol and show how friends rate it (like, so-so, dislike).
    Team size: 4
    Accomplished at Startup Weekend: Logo, social media campaign, interface mock-up, wireframe, interviewing manufacturers, vendor research
    Skills utilized: Coding, sales, business development, graphics, marketing

  • Nextly - Aimed at designers, Nextly combines the best of visual presentation tools for anyone who has ever shared a slideshow remotely. The presenter can create a narrative without the client flipping through the presentation at will.
    Team size: 4
    Accomplished at Startup Weekend: Business plan, product, branding, app, coding
    Skills utilized: Coding, design, marketing, business

  • Mobile Real Estate Locator - A location-based mobile app where users could house hunt in their desired area by driving to the location. The app would pull up the most up-to-date crime and sales statistics for the area.
    Accomplished at Startup Weekend: After doing preliminary research, the team realized that tools already existed that do the same thing. They melted into other groups but received honorable mention during the presentations.


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