This is the question posed by Startup Weekend, a global movement rallying together aspiring and active entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into viable startups. Last Friday, over 50 participants, from coders and designers to CPAs, MBAs, and other curious business types, came together for the first ever New Orleans Startup Weekend.
The event kicked off at the Propeller Incubator with an open mic where any of the participants could pitch their ideas in 60 seconds. Crowd voting narrowed the pitches from over 25 to the top eight. And after a second round of pitching, teams organically formed and set off on a weekend frenzy of market validation and business model creation.
At first glance, Startup Weekend sounds like an outlandish pursuit: bring together a lot of strangers, put them into teams, and give them 54 hours to launch a startup. Oddly it works. Well-known companies like Zaarly and FoodSpotting have originated from these Startup Weekends and over 36% of teams globally are still operating after three months. Why? Because Start Up Weekend connects people, who have really good ideas but lack resources to pursue them, with coaches and time to validate and prove their ideas.
On Sunday night, eight teams were in the hot seat and pitched their startup concepts to a panel of investors and serial entrepreneurs. With the intention to keep the momentum going, the top three teams awarded receive donated legal, creative, and financial services along with free access to co-working space. Teams were evaluated on three criteria: 1) proven need, 2) market/customer validation, and 3) demonstrated execution.
The night culminated with three winners and one crowd voted favorite:
- 1st place: Care Link Nola – connecting low-income patients to alternatives to ER care.
- 2nd Place: Frequent Foodie – an online platform providing performance analytics to help restaurants manage their quality of wait staff through customer ratings.
- 3rd Place: Fund Dat – a niche crowdsourcing platform for Nola by Nola.
- Crowd Favorite: Bloom Box Farms – redesigning hydroponic farms in shipping containers.
The supportive, hustling, and wildly passionate teams this weekend reflect the burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit of New Orleans. We’re thankful for the co-organizers, Elliott Adams and Ethan Rosenberg, and all the mentors and sponsors for bringing Startup Weekend and its incredible energy to the Silicon Bayou.
We’d like to thank our April sponsor: Search Influence. Want to be a sponsor? Email Julia@SiliconBayouNews.com!