Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the number of businesses created at the event. It also incorrectly identified the founder of Startup Weekend.
While some entrepreneurs spend a lifetime creating a business, Startup Weekend participants are doing it in just three days.
This past weekend the University hosted Startup Weekend, an event that unites students and community members to create a business together in just 54 hours. More than 125 members of the University, the Ann Arbor community and people from around the United States participated in the event to network and pitch ideas.
The program, hosted by the student entrepreneurial group MPowered, began on Friday night when a total of 54 pitches were presented to the group. Of those, 10 were voted on as the top ideas to be presented on Sunday evening. University students presented five of the final 10 pitches to a panel of judges.
At the event’s culmination last night, Lrn2Txt— an Android application that has kids answer homework questions before they can continue texting — won first place and $500. Food Circles — a mobile application to help individuals find friends with similar tastes in food — and Fun Bun — a Facebook game that provides nutritional information — won second and third places, earning $250 and $100, respectively.
LSA senior Daniel Lee was one of the students to come up with a top 10 idea. He pitched Drunkorchild.com, a website where users post ambiguous stories and others have to guess whether the person posting is drunk or a child. The team also launched a mobile app for the website.
Lee said the website, which was launched over the weekend, has already been successful.
“We’re getting posts right now, and they’re just coming in and it’s hilarious,” Lee said.
Though Lee was the team leader of 10 other members, he said the project was truly a team effort.
“I didn’t think of leading them, I thought of working with them,” Lee said. “As much as it was my idea, I couldn’t have done it without them, realistically.”
LSA sophomore Alex Perlman, a member of Lee’s team, said he’d never participated in a Startup Weekend, but was excited by the results of his team’s work.
“To leave here with a tangible product that’s operational that can be used from now into the future is pretty cool,” Perlman said. “Shocking, actually.”
Startup Weekend was created in June 2007 by Andrew Hyde, according to the organization’s website. In June 2009, Marc Neger and Clint Nelsen took ownership of the company, changing it to a non-profit organization.
Since its creation, Startup Weekend has held events all across the United States.
Last night’s event also included presentations by University alum Michael Gaiss, senior vice president of Highland Capital Partners— a venture capital company that guides start up companies— and Ben Kazez, CEO of Mobiata — a mobile software company based in Ann Arbor. Both speakers also served on the panel of judges.
LSA freshman Nancy Xiao, who participated in the event, said she had previously attended a Startup Weekend in Seattle. As a member of MPowered, she said she encouraged the organization to host the event because she thought Ann Arbor would greatly benefit from its creative atmosphere.
“It’s addictive … I looked around Ann Arbor and I thought, ‘I have to bring it here. It is not a choice,’” Xiao said.
While college campuses around the country have hosted Startup Weekend in the past, most of them are focused on MBA students, Xiao said. She said the University-hosted event was unique because it focused on undergraduates as well as MBA students and professional entrepreneurs.
Looking toward the future, Xiao said she hopes MPowered can host another Startup Weekend next year.