Where to begin….
Well i just finished my first ever Startup Weekend event, and it was in the city of my birth Harrisburg, PA. The event was organized in a way where fledgling entrepreneurs can bring their ideas to the table, get them heard, and gain a shot at getting them realized with the help of coaches and judges from various industries and disciplines. Everyone’s ideas are factored and the best are chosen to pursue for a 56 hour stretch of the weekend. By the end, a MVP (minimum viable product) is developed along with pitch deck. Pitches are performed and a first, second and third place team are awarded prizes and the opportunity to pitch their ideas on a larger stage for funding. It’s a great premise and played out very well courtesy of the event organizers. When i arrived at the event i was initially assigned to a team named “Wear It’s At” whose idea was to build a mobile app that would provide a feedback loop for teens to share a ;piece of clothing with a community, get suggestions on other pieces to go with it to complete the look and then engage brands for eventual fulfillment of the inventory if the user wanted to purchase the look. In the end this idea was the one i felt most strongly about at the event and gravitated to enough that i helped them in producing their presentation deck materials, branding, app design and thinking through the UX of the application. Believe me when I say flying in Friday nite and working two days straight wasn’t really my plan but the idea was too good not to give it the full treatment.
So initially myself and the development team of two started ideating how the app would function, i geared them towards thinking short team to get the MVP accomplished and long term to show fore thought as to where it would end up in a phase one or phase two. We spent about 2 hours kicking the initially build around and doing a feature list with wish list. In the end of that time we had a spec and could wireframe the initial build. Team wireframed it and handed it off to me to apply look. While that was going on the rest of the team was performing a survey on site at local malls on interest in an app like this with teens, skewing female. Interest was to say the least HIGH. They returned with target market set, and brand thoughts for the logo and tag. I got started on branding that evening and finished it by the following morning with all UI screens for the app. Then it was just a matter of creating presentation mockups with some style and providing them to the team that was building the deck, and considering the financials. The whole team to their credit worked incredibly well together right off the bat, no issues of ego, minus maybe some tense moments coming from me on the UI where i was pretty insistent on direction. (Appologies to the team if i was bitchy, sleep was an issue)
Once all presentation pieces were designed the team compiled them together along with financials where they got an assist from a badass new contact Sam Coyl, owner of Netrepid. Sam helped them setup an excel doc that provided the framework for a good set or projections. Once completed it fell to the team leader Wendy Keim to practice and practice her pitch with Andrew Hacker another team member to get it down for their 5 minute pitch to the judged at 6:00PM.
When the time came the team delivered, the presentation went well with the exception of a fail on the financials slides which killed momentum but from which Wendy recovered well to finish off. The team ran out of time for their demo from the break in the presentation and in running into those issue were judged to fall into second place. We heard later from several other coaches that they didn’t think there was a chance the team wouldn’t take home first place minus those issues so everyone felt awesome about all the effort. I was proud to have helped the team and get them to that stage where now they have a excellent shot at funding and going next level.
Of special note here, the team consisted of several other key contributors, none of which i want to slight but i may miss one or two:
Mario Irizarry – Developer
Jerry Broughton – Developer
Shaina McDonald – Support
Nigel – IT Support and Social Media
Leland Nelson – Financials
AND A BIG THUMBS UP TO THE TEAM THAT HELPED PUT THE EVENT TOGETHER.