Thursday, June 7, 2012

    Startup Weekend Santa Barbara - Winners and Takeaways

    Startup Weekend Santa Barbara Winners

    Grand Prize: 
    Chirp - Shazam for bird songs.  Use the app the identify what bird is singing that song you are hearing.

    Best Market Validation: 
    Text Connect - Event/venue specific text roulette.  Text the provided number and get paired into a text conversation with others near you.

    Best Business Model: 
    Simple Submit - A site that walks you through the documentation necessary to get a mortgage.

    Best of Santa Barbara: 
    Best and Bogus - Take videos of the best and worst things in your community.  Get the community to give praise where it is due and fix what is broken.

    Best Mobile: 
    Artful - Shazam for art.  Use the app to identify a piece of art and get information on it as well as a link to buy the print.

    Audience Choice: 
    Goal Stoke - Compete with others to lose weight and earn money.


    The pitches on Friday absolutely blew me away.  I counted maybe five or so ideas that were clones out of the 54 ideas that were pitched, leading me to believe that Santa Barbara has an abundant supply of originality.  Just when I thought I had heard every single startup idea, things like Artful, Chirp and Text Connect come up.

    Out of the 21 teams that formed, 18 made it to the final pitches.  I am happy to say that my three favorite teams on Friday all won something.  In the judges room, it was a toss up between Artful and Chirp.  Chirp managed to edge out the win because the judges decided it was the most market ready.  Once released to the app store, Chirp would immediately have paying customers, versus Artful which was reliant on gallery owners and museums adopting the system and then uploading their art pieces to the system in order for the app to be useful.

    I agreed with the judges' reasoning, but it was a toss up for me as well.  Chirp and Artful both did an excellent job in market validation and put together beautiful look apps.  In terms of amount of work completed, the Artful team impressed me a bit more because they were able to put together a working mobile app.  In the end, I can understand why Chirp won the grand prize and I am just happy that both teams managed to win something.  I am really looking forward to these apps going live and hoping for the chance to beta test them.

    Best and Bogus's win is deserved due to the team's solid market validation, but the product makes me nervous.  Every time the team mentions that their goal is to create a "video army" to fix what is bogus behavior through essentially what is public shaming, I think about China's cultural revolution and how children turned in their parents to the government for "misbehaving." The thought of having to look over my shoulder because a neighbor might be out to catch me doing something "bogus"on video is frightening and sounds like the setting of a dystopian novel.  This was my only gripe about the winners.

    SWSB has really gotten me to rethink my list of hot tech locations.  The winners of SWSB are by far the most promising set of ideas that I have seen come out of ANY Startup Weekend to date.  I believe there is a good chance one of the SWSB winners will become the biggest Startup Weekend success story ever.

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