Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Startup Weekend Kansas City Recap: Pictures, Summaries and an Inside-Look at Every Team

Bustling, fingernail-biting, Mountain Dew (and some Bud Light) drinking, energetic entrepreneurs filled the Union Station Board Rom this weekend for Startup Weekend Kansas City.  I was lucky enough to check out the final presentations on Sunday afternoon and interact with some of the cool new startup companies that worked for 54 hours straight during the KC entrepreneurial event.

The Union Station Board Room was warm; perhaps from the energy of the presenters, perhaps from the body heat of the crowd, perhaps from the flowing all-you-can-drink coffee.  Whatever the reason was, there was a buzz in the Startup Weekend air that was inspirational, electrifying and (to be honest) a little nerve-racking.

In ordinary entrepreneurial fashion, the KC Startup Weekend final presentations began 8 minutes late, at approximately 4:08pm on Sunday, April 15, 2012.  Startup Weekend organizers Adam Coomes and Royce Haynes welcomed the large crowd to Union Station and commented on the every presenters abundance of hard work and lack of sleep.  Then, Haynes summed up the reason that Startup Weekend has arrived and succeeded in Kansas City (and it really hit home for me):

"Startup Weekend is all about bringing people together that don't know each other.  You get to meet people in the community and the teams who out of nowhere, come together and build a product over just one weekend."  That just about sums it all up.  

Adam and Royce welcome the audience to Kansas City Startup Weekend.
After the intro came the moment the entire crowd (and impressive lineup of judges) were all waiting for: the final presentations.  Although I have attended a few Startup Weekends in the past year, I was surprised by the casual, unintimidating demeanor of the organizers, presenters and even judges.  To be quite honest, it was refreshing.  

1.  MockCrunch: "Fake is the new real." (A hilarious intro from Startup Weekend organizers!) 
MockCrunch is the National Enquirer for Tech Crunch and Mashable.  Presenter Nate Allen took a joking approach to his pitch, claiming that would easily surpass The Onion, quickly crowdfund $1 million, fill the entire site up with advertisements, and eventually, buy the cloud.  Learn more at @MockCrunch.

2. Truckily: "Truck Yeah!"
Truckily wants to provide Kansas City with a location-based app with accurate food truck location data.  The startup plans to use Twitter and push notifications to show where each food truck is located.  According to Truckily, there are 3 million non-typical food establishments in the U.S., so Truckily is a need! Learn more at @Truckily.

The crowd at Startup Weekend tunes in.  
3.  Keyzio: "Where every house is for sale."
The Keyzio team leader and his wife found their dream home.  The only problem was, it wasn't for sale.  That's why he joined Startup Weekend and pitched Keyzio, an app where every house is for sale.  Keyzio finds your location, allows you to verify your dream home address and then sends a postcard to inform the homeowner of your interest.

4.  HomeMade Food
The 5-person team from HomeMade Food hopes to enhance the cooking experience by using technology to create an online companion chef (through video and online recipes).  According to the small team, it's difficult to find quality cooking resources, and when they are found, users often get frustrated with the overall cooking process.  HomeMade Food solves that issue.  Learn more at @HomeMade_Foods

Kansas City Startup Weekend took place at the Union Station Board Room.  
5.  Link Minded: "It's a startup for startups."
Link Minded isn't just a startup, it's a solution for other startups out there.  Link Minded is an invite-driven, location-based community for designer and developer entrepreneurs.  With Link Minded, members are responsible for the quality of the community.  Learn more at @LinkMinded.  

6.  NotiFire: "Phone, text and social media notifications made easy."
Before the team from NotiFire presented at Startup Weekend, they asked for various audience members' phone numbers.  Then, as the presentation started, NotiFire left a voicemail on each of these phones with (basically) the click of a button.  Suddenly, smartphones were ringing, beeping, vibrating and even chirping throughout the entire Union Station Board Room.  NotiFire proved that it is a broadcast notification service that delivers urgent messages to people in a time-sensitive way (and honestly, I would be surprised if something like this didn't already exist!).  Learn more at  

7.  Out Of The Trash: "Recycling = Rewards."
Out Of The Trash was a refreshing and simple pitch from a college student with an environmental passion.  After defining a newly coined term, eWaste (old batteries, laptops, phones, etc.) that need to be thrown away, Out Of The Trash provided a solution to the eWaste dilemma.  The Out Of The Trash app analyzes devices to recycle, finds a local store that accepts those devices and allows users to redeem points for coupons.  What's even cooler?  The presenter of Out Of The Trash came in at 2:00AM on Friday morning from Iowa and grew up in Zambia (welcome to KC!).

8.  Change Stations: "Location-based changing table lookup."
Parenting is not easy.  Change Stations made this apparent by covering an entire slide with a picture of a wailing child.  Obviously, this took many audience members back to raising babies (and for this writer, a scary look into my future of motherhood).  But one of the most frustrating parts of parenthood is changing babies' diapers in less-than-sanitary locations.  Change Stations solves that!  This app highlights where changing stations are located.  Learn more @Change_Stations.  

9.  DivShot: "Rapid web app prototyping."
DivShot wants to make building apps faster and easier.  According to the team, it is tedious for entrepreneurs, developers, designers and business professionals to build web apps.  DivShot makes it easy.  With DivShot, you don't need coding or mockup knowledge.  It's simply drag and drop, export to HTML and CSS and build an app.  Learn more at @DivShot.

KC Startup Weekend brings in entrepreneurs, designers, developers and movers-and-shakers.
10.  LunchUp: "The simplest way to share what you're doing for lunch."
Does it take you 10 minutes to decide when and where you're going to lunch?  Do you always eat lunch with the same people (your coworkers)?  With LunchUp, lunch has transformed into a more social experience.  LunchUp is an app that broadcasts when and where you're going to lunch and who you're going to lunch with.  LunchUp provides a more serendipitous lunch experience.  It is a time saving, inclusive, convenient virtual concierge that pushes you to discover.  Learn more at @LunchUpMe.

11.  TutHopper: "The earlier you start, the better!"
TutHopper is a web-based company that teaches programming and system architecture through games.  The team at TutHopper notes that the earlier you start, the better.  Featuring a Code Dojo and fun game-play environment, TutHopper will help kids learn coding concepts through games.  As a side note, TutHopper displayed that, "kids will learn at a level over their heads if it's in an area where they've been turned on by these games."  Learn more at @TutHopper.  

12.  Grüple: "Group payments made simple." 
Lucky for KC, the All Star game is at our own Kauffman Stadium.  But let's say you've taken on the responsibility of buying all of the tickets for you and your friends.  Therefore, you probably won't get paid back (at least not in a timely manner), right?  Wrong!  Grüple helps you solve this issue. creates a grüp, invites grüpies, notifies grüpies, and provides grüpies with a simple and quick way to reimburse others for tickets (through debit, credit and e-check).  Learn more at @Grupleco.  

13.  Connect Power: "Find your personal power by the minute or the hour."
Did you know that each year, $54.6 billion is spent on mental health in the U.S.?  Pretty extreme numbers brought to Startup Weekend KC today.  Connect Power is a website that provides mentors to share personal experiences of overcoming adversity for those who are experiencing similar issues.  It is a source of personal strength and power.  But what makes the site different?  Each person providing mentorship has already come out the other side and has found a solution to their emotional distress.  Connect Power boasts that this approach allows for an 80% recovery rate.

Connect Power finishes up the presentations. 
Stay tuned!  Kansas City Startup Weekend will be announcing the winners soon!

Follow me! @AllisonThinkBig
Follow Kansas City Startup Weekend! @KCSW

1 comment:

  1. Great article Allison. Great work ThinkBig. Love you guys!