OtherFirst PSU Portland Startup Weekend Surpasses Expectations

More than 70 student innovators took part in the first PSU Portland Startup Weekend, with nine startup ideas emerging to compete for final honors at the end of the 54-hour weekend marathon.

Startup Weekend organizers for the event had hoped to attract a mix of students, not just the traditional business major, as well as concepts beyond the typical tech. Judging by the final startup ideas, the PSU event was a success.

Organic, locally produced food and healthcare business ideas earned the top three spots with awards going to the teams behind:

  • Grub Compass (1st place) – a web/mobile app to connect local farmers to consumers. The Grub Compass team started Friday night with little more than an idea and ended Sunday night with customer validation (one farmer told the team: “When is it ready? I want the app now!”) and a subscription model, a mockup for the app and a solution for customers who truly want to buy locally grown produce from local farmers.
  • The Grub Compass mobile app mockup aims to connect local farmers with consumers who want local produce
  • Aqua Annie (2nd place) – hyperlocal food solutions for urban consumers. The Aqua Annie team, led by the former executive director of the Portland Farmers Market, created an innovative aquaponics system that combines fish tanks with vertical towers for growing vegetables like basil, kale, peppers and lettuce. The system grows food three times faster than conventional growing methods and uses 90 percent less water. A favorite throughout the weekend, Aqua Annie won the social media challenge by attracting more than 140 “likes” on Facebook.
  • SafeAssure (3rd place) – one-button “distress call” solution to help seniors who have fallen alert loved ones via text message and social media. With 33 percent of seniors over 65 expected to fall, SafeAssure was designed to give seniors an easy-to-use way to notify loved ones when they need help, without requiring expensive call centers or ambulences. Other potential applications the team brainstormed were children age 5-7 who get lost and lovers who want to let their significant other know much they’re loved.

Said organizer Shelley Gunton, Executive Director of the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Portland State University, “We had a very cool, eclectic mix of people from across the entire university – including students from architecture, education, math, physics, engineering and business, among others – who came together for this amazing experience. What they were able to produce from Friday to Sunday night is staggering.”

Audience (and friends and family) award winner was My Self Trainer, an interactive golf trainer based on the XBox platform. Other PSU Startup Weekend finalists were:

  • SoFi – social wifi that connects food and beverage companies, like cafes, with their customers through social media.
  • Grocery Grub – a web/mobile app for identifying stores and special deals for consumers with food sensitivities or special ingredient needs.
  • Green Fleet PDX – a machine that processes waste oil and diesel to produce an alternative diesel fuel at a fraction of the cost of pump prices (estimated $1.56/gal Greenfleet price) that can be used by fleets.
  • Pet Craft – providing pet owners a place to go to heal from the death of a pet (2,600 pet deaths per week in Portland alone) and to create personalized memorials, i.e. photo frames, urns or mosaics.
  • Healthcare DB – an easy-to-understand, mobile dashboard that pulls data from various sources and gives hospitals the quality data they need to better understand case management.

Additional Startup Weekend events this fall include:
Oct. 12-14, Eugene, OR
Nov. 16-18, Portland, OR

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