Startup Weekend Provo continued at a frenzied pace Friday with teams validating their idea, writing code, and preparing for Saturday night's presentations. We had the opportunity to visit with each team throughout the day to talk more about their idea and what they hope to accomplish by the end of the 54-hour event.
On the opening night of the event, 12 teams were formed. We'd like to introduce you to each of them. While Startup Weekend is technically a competition, we present this list in no particular order of preference or ranking. It's already clear the big winner this weekend is the local startup community.
The New IRS
Dru Clegg and her husband Kyle were a part of Alex Ebert's (frontman of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) winning team at Hackdance a few weeks back. They've even been in touch with Ebert while working on their Startup Weekend Provo project.
"The New IRS is a web application that allows users to propose how they would want taxes to be allocated if they had the choice," said Dru Clegg.
The New IRS team is focused on keeping their idea simple, making sure the design looks great, and keeping the user experience intuitive and engaging so people will want to share the app with others.
"The success of the application is going to be whether or not people will want to share it with others," said Dru Clegg.
Team NomNom Finder is building an app to make it easy for users to find local food trucks in their area.
"The problem we’re trying to solve is it’s kind of hard to get into food trucks," said Jesse Harris. "They seem to have kind of this secret cult-like culture about them. If you know the secret handshake then you can find the food truck whenever you want to. If you don’t know how to find a food truck, it’s impossible to know how to even get started."
The NomNom Finder app will allow a food truck to send out a notification to users in their area notifying them of their location.
"The idea is the food truck themselves can have an app where they can press a button that says, 'I am here right now selling food,' and then people who’ve subscribed to that truck will get a notification on their phone that says, 'Hey, that truck you’re interested in? Yeah, they’re right over there. They’re selling their tacos right now. Go get them,'" said Harris.
Here's Spencer Bean on Car Confidence:
Car Confidence is a way to instill loyalty for customers of mechanic shops. One of the problems I’ve always had is I am not at all car savvy. I can’t change my oil. All I can do is fill-up the gas. Where this idea really came from is wanting to see my entire car history in one place. Not just stuff that comes from CarFax, but everything. Data from JiffyLube; data from mom-and-pop shops. Get it all in one place, and then prompt me when my expiration comes up. I don’t remember that stuff. I never review my owner’s manual. I want this to help put my car maintenance on auto-pilot. We think there’s a really cool play to incorporate the mechanic shops and build that loyalty.
It’s coming along really well. I was nervous to pitch this because it’s kind of a big idea — not your typical Startup Weekend project. We’re still trying to hash-out the details of the revenue: Do we charge the customers? Do we charge the shops? How do we get customer acquisition? We’re still trying to figure all of that out. We’ve spent a lot of time going back-and-forth on just the business model canvas. We’re not looking at a comprehensive technical solution. We’re mostly looking at a totally minimal MVP. We want to get this validated as quickly as possible, and if we find there’s legs to this idea, then we can kind of take a second look at it and build it from scratch the right way.
Draw My Doll
Draw My Doll is an app that allows users to draw their own doll and get it made by a professional seamstress.
"We’ve got a great team and they’re working hard," said Jethro Jones. "We’ve got pretty much everything we need to make this thing happen, so it’s pretty awesome."
QuotaDeck is a platform where sales people fill out a profile to become a freelancer.
"It’s never been done in the sales industry," said Bubba Page. "Developers and designers are very common to do freelance work, but sales people have just never been thought of in that way. We want to build a marketplace where companies — startups, mid-market, and enterprise — can go online and find great sales people who have specific expertise in their industry."
The idea behind QuotaDeck is simple: create a marketplace for companies to find great sales people and close more deals.
I think we’ve made great progress. We have some awesome team members who’ve been able to help validate and get the concept of the idea down. Our revenue model is awesome. It’s a freemium model. Everybody can sign-up for free. Both company and sales person. As soon as there’s any sales interaction then there’s a monthly subscription fee. Based on the quantity of interaction, or sales people you’re working with, the higher the company pays. It’s the company that pays, not the sales person. Revenue wise we can become profitable fairly quickly. I honestly think we can get a whole bunch of sign-ups.
This is my first time ever being at a Startup Weekend. It’s been really exciting. I’ve totally loved it. I’m exhausted, but it’s been really fun.
To The Moon
Here's Sean Brown on To The Moon:
The idea behind To The Moon was a recognition that there is a definite deficit in motivation and exercise. It’s something everybody’s trying to tackle right now, and there’s obviously no easy solution. It’s just a growing and growing problem. I love the idea of trying to take just arbitrary, like two laps around the park, or a mile here and a mile there, and make it into something visually stimulating and also try to implement a group and a social dynamic to it to give it an even bigger oomph to tweak that motivation just a little bit more to get people to do something.
The idea here is you unite as a group — whether it’s a class, a school, a business, or just a bunch of friends — and you establish a goal and a distance. So it’s like let's go to the Statue of Liberty, or to the moon, or wherever you want to go. You collectively, as a group, all the miles are being accumulated from everyone participating in that group until you ultimately reach your destination. Visually you’ll be able to see the plot and the progress. Individually you’ll be able to see your personal progress and your marks of achievement as you're progressing. Ultimately it’s to try to get people to be a little more active, and hopefully this social collaborative solution may help address that.
We have a fantastic looking design. We have interaction between our apps and the back-end. We’re working on some of the front-end interactions and just the graphics and layout. We’ll have some other surprises in store too, hopefully, if we can pull it off.
The Life of Text
Here's James Brinkerhoff on The Life of Text:
The Life of Text is essentially a system that can contain as many text-based games that people want to create. We want to create a framework where anyone can go in and at least control their story through some verbiage, and obviously adding some story elements in there as you go along through these scenes.
We started out ambitious. We’ve since gone down to a more MVP-mindset. We’re going to be releasing two basic stories. People will be able to do basic commands, but there won’t be any way for someone else to create a story for it unless they do it in JSON.
Here's Lorenzo Swank on Castr:
Castr is a tool for casting agents to work directly with talent agents and be able to ease the workflow they have going on. Right now it involves a lot of paper. I just talked to a casting director today who said, “I have a stack of 850 headshots and resumes on my desk. We’re done with the project. We found who we needed right away. It’s really just a waste, and it’s huge a mental overhead.” So we’re going to get rid of that mental overhead for them and add a lot of value.
We’ve got part of the mobile app done. We’ve got part of the website done. We have a landing page that’s already collecting plenty of interested actors, who are either free agents or represented by various talent agencies. But more than that we’ve made partnerships with Utah’s premier casting director, and Utah’s largest talent management company. They’re on board. They’ll be here for demo day. They are excited to help us iterate on this thing. We also have somebody from Creative Artists, one of the largest agencies in California, and they are going to demo it tomorrow, on our behalf, to the other partners of their agency.
Here's Tyler McGinnis on Gold Watch:
We have a lot of developers on our team. We found that as developers, we do a lot of things outside of work to build our skill-set. The problem is the specific companies we’re working for are unaware of our progression. It costs companies a lot of money when they lose developers. We’re writing software that helps tech companies to better understand the progress of their employees, and if their employees are happy with their position. And what they can do to make them more happy so they can stay.
We're getting there. The back-end’s basically done. We’re getting to the point now where we’re getting to the UI stuff, where we’re kind of writing the formulas that hopefully will help predict if an employee is happy with where they’re at.
Instago is an app that instantly connects you with friends with just one tap of a button on your phone.
"You’ll have groups or individuals that you can invite, and the instant part of it is we’re not saying let's plan for something later on — it’s right now," said Justin Bergener.
Instago will give your contacts a limited amount of time to respond to your invitiation.
"They have five minutes to respond or they’re out," said Bergener. "They’re in, or they’re out. If you're looking for one friend to go out to lunch with, as soon as we get that one friend, we’re going and we’re having lunch."
Here's Nate Bagley on LoveNote:
LoveNote is a journaling / goal setting app for couples. Every day couples are pinged and write down something they’re grateful for, and also to make a goal as a partner about what they’re going to contribute to their relationship that day. As they fill it out, the entries will be sent to their partners and they can see what their partner is going to be working on for that day.
The app is meant to encourage people to be more engaged in their relationships on a daily basis. A lot of relationships suffer and die from monotony. They become a shallow husk of what they once were because people don’t maintain them. With just one or two small acts of connection, kindness, and sincerity, I think relationships can really benefit.
Another feature we’re adding is people can create a list of things that mean something to them. Whether they’re acts of service, or kinds words, or whatever it may be. Something we've found while validating this idea is this is especially useful for husbands. They want to do something for their wife, but they have no idea what they want to do.
We’re doing really well. We’ve got a site up. We’re about ready to polish off some of the design and content. We’ve got an app that’s functioning. We’re going to have a working prototype by the time this is over. The vision of the project is coming together really nicely.
Gasp is an app that records your reaction to watching a video. As you’re watching a video the app records your reaction and plays it back to you.
"The fun of it is watching the videos that will make you gasp," said Steve Wirig. "Another piece of it is you get to watch yourself reacting — and all of your friends reacting — on your social media channels."
Wirig said Team Gasp has the hardest piece of the technology figured out.
"We’ve got most of the flow done," said Wirig. "Really we’re just trying to piece it together now. Hopefully we’ll have something that’s useable."