Monday, October 27, 2014

Startup Weekend Buffalo - Judging and FinalsOctober 2014 - Part 2

Startup Weekend Buffalo - October 2014

Well in my first blog post I covered the initial pitches and how the actual first night goes. I couldn't be there on Saturday due to my son being in his last Volleyball Tournament of the year which his team made it to the finals but lost. But I did make it back for the finals which include 5 minute pitch's and Q&A from the judges, with the conclusion and announcement of the Winners!

So a quick recap of what has transpired so far - 43 teams pitched an idea on Friday and 18 teams formed from those 43 ideas! So lets go see what happened!

So the stage was set, this picture below shows Dan Miner from the Buffalo Business First as well as we had WGRZ covering some of the finals as well. The winning team also made it on WingingIt TV too! What great exposure!

Pat Whalen, COO of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus was also here, and I am glad he supports this kind of event taking place here in WNY.

So Jon Spitz got it started and the format is very simple, 5 minutes to explain your ideas with props and presentations and then 5 minutes of Q&A from the judges so they can get an understanding of the idea and then they score each one based on Business Model/Customer Validation, User Experience, Product Execution, and then bring those totals together. 

The 5 judges are people you would want to help evaluate your business idea and they were great. We had Marnie Lavigne of Launch NY, Mitchell Patterson founder of HackUpstate, Dan Penberthy of Rand Capital Corp, Michael Weisman founder of Campus Labs and Dr. Bob Genco Professor at SUNY Buffalo. I was impressed to see these distinguished guests as judges.  

 Jessica Edwards the Curator of DIG Buffalo made sure everything was perfect and this venue made the event so much better! Thank you Jessica and DIG!

It was "Standing Room Only" for this event!

Dan Magnuszewski laid the ground rules for the pitches and he was one of the time keepers along with Steve Poland.

 And with that the judges were ready to hear the 18 business ideas!

I am not going to cover each idea pitched but here are the company names -, Tender App, Givengi, iFlourish, BAG – Buffalo Automation Group, three square meals, Skills Repo,        Buy BLOCAL, BEST Channel, Community Canvas, Med$, SheMay..,‘Betes Buster, Beautiful Brains,LLC, Pawraiser, Zealotic, Go Go Local. Some were better than others, but my personal favorite was Med$ an App that can help you find a medical procedure based on cost. I also liked the Sol Warrior Bag too. 

The organizers were strict to give each team only 5 minutes and they made it fair for all participants. So not only would the contestants who have worked for 54 hours have to lay it on the line in front of a live audience and explain their business plan for 5 minutes and then face a Q&A for 5 minutes from the judges. What a competition!! 

Neil Carroll of Nickel City Graphics does such a great job, I can't wait till he gets the videos done!

Finally the pitches and Q&A are done and now the judges need to deliberate and come up with the winners!

And the winners - 3rd place Buffalo Automation Group

2nd prize Pawraiser

1st place Three Square Meals!

And the 4th Buffalo Startup Weekend comes to a great end! Get involved, get motivated, build something, grow your community and amazing things will happen this weekend sure did prove that to me.

Here is the article from the BUFFALO NEWS about the winning teams for a little more details.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Startup Weekend Buffalo October 2014 - Part 1

Startup Weekend Buffalo - October 2014

Buffalo Startup Weekend was held at DIG on October 24-26, 2014. It is another reason to get involved, and start a business and create something better for the community and possibly the world!

There is a simple format to this weekend, come with an idea, or come to help an idea. Over 150 people were registered to form teams and create something over the 50+ hour span.
Kudos to the organizers and hosts, the BNMC for allowing the event to be held at DIG and to all the sponsors. You can read more about it, from the link off the picture above. 

So let me just give you the overall setup for first night, so if you didn't take part this time, you have another year or so to perfect your idea, pitch or skills to help you get acquainted with the event.

The event started with an opening reception of Beer, Coffee (and pop and water too), Pizza, Wings and Salad and lots of conversations and networking. All to help you size up potential teammates in the DIG space. It just made for a energetic start to the evening.

So then the organizers get started and thank everyone who is involved. Mark Branden, Jon Spitz and Steve Poland were the main hosts and a lot of organizing and outreach happened to make this event very successful. Thank you for your hard work on this event. There are others and I could write a blog on each of them too as the team is phenomenal. 

Big crowd on hand this year!

Jessica Edwards makes sure everything is perfect here at DIG! You must go and see her and DIG and I know you will be hooked!

Some pretty big players in this picture including from left to right, Nick Barone, Dan Gigante, Dan Magnuszewski, Steve Raines, Bill Palisano, Dave Thiemecke and Peter Ronca. Lots of great Local Entrepreneurs here!

Joel Columbo a past winner of Startup Weekend Buffalo getting the crowd warmed up!

And then the great ice breaker called Half Baked starts. This is where all participants are broken into 10-12 teams and given two names to form a company together. It gets everyone out of their comfort zone and then one of each team gets the microphone to pitch their idea to the entire audience. Fun networking game and gets everyone starting to meet and think of forming their relationships for the weekend.

After "Half Baked" the real "Pitches" start. That is where anyone with an idea that wants to start something this weekend lines up, and is given 60 seconds to pitch that idea.
Here are just 3 of 40+ ideas that were shared Friday night!


Once the Pitches are completed, the next round happens, get the details of that idea on a large sticky note along with what you might need (Legal, Marketing, Programming, Web Design, etc...). Then present the idea to many people you can as each participant is given 3 stickers to place as a vote for a contestant, you can spread them out or put all on 1 if you like.

Finally the ideas are presented one last time in front of all participants and the request for needs go out. This is where teams get formed and their 50+ hour journey begins. 

I am on the InfoTech Niagara Board and we are one of the many sponsors of this event. Being a part of the InfoTech Board gives me access to these kind of events and I am very happy to share them with anyone who wants to see what is happening in Buffalo. I am proud to be from such a supportive community of partners in Buffalo and Western New York. 

I will update you with a new blog on who were the finalists.

Buffalo Startup Weekend