By Paul S. Chun, Web Development Consultant and MBA Student
Eugene’s first ever Startup Weekend kicked off on Friday evening, Oct. 12, with over 30 participants, half of whom were developers. Initially a quiet crowd, participants quickly opened up to the over dozen ideas pitched. Seven teams were formed around ideas ranging from garden-gardener matchmaking to mobile game porting.
Wasting none of their 54 hours in the event, teams found themselves constantly modifying their business based on market validation – or lack thereof. Team members were frequently dispatched from the Startup Weekend home base at the University of Oregon School of Law to speak with and learn from potential customers. Most teams also simultaneously created a basic prototype of a web application.
Two tireless days of rigorous market validation and research, sales, and application development later, final pitches were delivered and winners were selected:
- CheckMeOnce.com (1st place) – a marketplace of apartment renters’ applications for landlords. Pitching at the last minute on Friday, founder Eric Harvey was joined by three others to form this team that aims to ease the pain of both apartment searching for renters and vacant units for landlords.
- BackYarden (2nd place) – a non-profit enterprise that connects aspiring gardeners with landowners who have unused, available space for growing. An “AirBnB of backyard space,” the organization aims to launch in Lane County in hopes of increasing the quality of lives of its citizens by growing more food.
- IndieGoHalfsies (3rd place) – a company that ports independent developers’ HTML5 games to iOS, Android and Windows Phone and takes half of the revenue. They cover the licensing costs for these marketplaces and implement ads and in-app purchases.
Other Eugene Startup Weekend finalists included:
- Alphabetico – a company that turns custom fonts and images into durable, colorful three-dimensional collectors items.
- CalledIt – a web application that stores users’ predictions on various topics.
- Global Sales Connect – consulting services that connect U.S. businesses to international markets.
- RemoPower – A prioritization filter for phone events that controls electricity. Have your bedroom lights flicker when someone important calls, or turn off your room light from your phone while you’re in bed.
My own interactions with the participants revealed to me that Eugene Startup Weekenders were both generally agreeable and talented, and this fostered a very innovative atmosphere. The organizers’ colossal efforts also didn’t go unnoticed, and were also vital in creating this innovative atmosphere. I’m honored to have been part of this event, and am excited to see what great ideas and teams the next Startup Weekend in Eugene will brew up.