After hours of intense planning, designing and marketing, Ann Arbor residents and University students presented their newly-developed business models this past weekend at MPowered’s second annual Ann Arbor Startup Weekend.

At this year’s event, 12 teams presented startup business ideas to a judge panel comprised of five entrepreneurs haling from around the country, according to event facilitator Nancy Xiao. Winners of the competition received free trips to the Bay Area in California, sponsored by the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship, to pitch their startup.

The event began on Friday with participants pitching ideas and ended yesterday with the announcement of the winners. Participants were judged on the idea’s development and execution, including customer validation and overall business model.

First prize in the competition went to Rap Roulette, a website that allows users to have rap battles with each other, and second place went to Task Missile, a customer feedback system for websites.

Rap Roulette’s winning pitch featured a live demonstration of two team members rapping on the website.

Both Rap Roulette and Task Missile won a tour of Bizdom U, an entrepreneurship accelerator in Detroit, along with a private pitch workshop and a feedback session with Bizdom U‘s leadership team.

Maria Lalonde, one of the judges for the event and recruiting and development leader for Bizdom U in Detroit, said the judges appreciated the market appeal of Rap Roulette.

“We really liked the opportunity and the potential market size and what they were creating,” Lalonde said. “We thought there would be a lot of interest in this and they should have a great opportunity ahead.”

LSA senior Erik Torenberg, a former Michigan Daily columnist who came up with the idea of Rap Roulette, said he was surprised by the results.

“We came up with our idea last minute,” Torenberg said. “We found a good group of people who were passionate about it, worked hard for two days straight, slept little (and) learned a lot.”

Engineering sophomore Shiva Kilaru, who helped with the project’s design, said he is looking forward to going to California to present Rap Roulette in Silicon Valley.

“We definitely want to get the idea out there,” Kilaru said. “(We want to) see what people in the Valley think of it, maybe talk to some venture capitalists.”

Rap Roulette, Eventext and Back Track were also recognized for the audience choice, best use of SMS, and best demo awards, respectively.

Lalonde said she was impressed by the quality of all the presentations.

“I thought the pitches were fantastic,” Lalonde said. “I’m really proud of everyone for taking their weekend to really explore entrepreneurship further and see what type of great opportunities they can bring to solving problems and making possibly one of our next great companies happen. “

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.