Crazy tired today. But in a good way. Went waaaaaay outside my comfort zone this weekend and participated in Startup Weekend West Palm Beach (thanks for telling me JT!) where groups of people interested in starting up a new business come together, pitch concepts, vote on the ideas, form teams and work all weekend to validate their ideas.
Before I go much further, a special thanks to all the organizers of the event, the participants, the coaches and the judges. Please know your hard work and time were not only appreciated but made a difference in a great many people’s lives!
In a Nutshell
The weekend started out Friday night with some social activities to loosen up the group and get all the strangers in the room acquainted with each other. From there about 30 or so people went on stage to present their idea in 60 seconds or less. After which everyone voted on what they thought were the top 3 ideas using post its. Votes were counted and the top fourteen ideas were asked to form teams. From those 14 teams, 9 teams ended up working ALL weekend to form their products or services and pitch to the judges. Great coaches were available to help along the way throughout both Saturday and Sunday.
(Spoiler alert) Our group, TeamSponsor Won! (Sorry. Had to. Still pumped.)
In looking back at the period of voting on ideas (and at the risk of sounding overly pretentious) I ended up voting for each of the three teams the judges voted as the best ideas/pitches for the weekend. Maybe there is something within me I’m not tapping into… Anyhow, on with it. Squirrel is gone now. I settled on a concept brought to the table by Kate which was to create a service to allow sports teams and sponsors to connect and facilitate sponsorship transactions. Kate’s idea was simple, solid and something I had experienced myself with the Christopher Aguirre Memorial Foundation and seeing their logistical struggles with getting sponsors.
Joining Kate was JT, myself, John, A Guy on Clematis and JD. What a group of super cool people. I’ve been on multiple “group” projects during my brief pursuit of an MBA and with each of those groups, inevitably only one or two people would do the work. This was the polar opposite. Every single person brought not only ideas and experiences to the table but laughter as well. Friday night we wrapped up about 11 and I don’t know about the rest of the team but I didn’t really sleep because of all the ideas floating around in my head. This made for a looooong Saturday.
On Saturday, we got started off b&e on fleshing out the idea, calling businesses and league representatives to validate the idea, building a demo site (thanks for the tools/location Aaron) and outlining the pitch approach in our minds. Like I said, Saturday was a long day. It did help though that there was a steady stream of very high quality food from area restaurants brought in by the #swwpb gang.
Sunday found us back in the same room making minor adjustments to the website and primarily working on our validation points. As it all came down to the pitch, we knew we needed to spend time perfecting our arguments and keeping it simple. It was decided Kate, John and JT would present since John was a coach, JT was a business man (check out Thoughtly) and Kate, well, it was Kate’s idea after all! John represented the teams needing sponsors, JT represented the businesses wanting to sponsor local teams, and Kate represented TeamSponsor which brought both sides together to efficiently process sponsorship purchases. Aaron ran the slide deck. I didn’t do much but clap and take pics…
It was very interesting to sit back and watch all the hard work all the participants put in over the weekend. I’m going to try to remember (and spell) them all but if I forgot someone, I apologize. I blame the lack of good sleep. There was EmojiLogo, iBringLocal.com, Bandsly, MediaQuick, TeamSponsor, FriendScape, Party Button, Wait Zero and the crazy folks of FlashMob. I enjoyed seeing all of these pitches and how everyone showed up. There were some really skilled presenters up there (especially @DowntownDana). Our team’s presentation went very well, came in plenty under time and Kate fielded the judges questions deftly. From there, it was just sit back and wait.
The judges ended up choosing Bandsly as third place. To the Bandsly folks, please please keep pushing forward on the app. I would use the hell out of it. Thank you. In second came Ceci Dadisman‘s MediaQuick which helped companies organize their media placements and spend. Ceci, push on with this as well. Every CVB in the nation would buy it! And finally, (not so much a drum roll as you already know) TeamSponsor came in first. After the first two teams were called, we were all kind of looking at each other like “maybe?”. Don’t remember much from there.
If you want to see some pics from the event look for #swwpb on the social media sites or see a few here.