According to John Holt, the brainchild behind the San Francisco located Kiwi Landing Pad, the final pitch presentations at the Wellington Startup Weekend were better than 75% of those he’s seen in the USA.
Given that those State-side entrepreneurs are pitching for real money for ideas they’ve been working on for months, the former director of Sonar 6 reckons the fledgling companies in Wellington did a fantastic job of getting their ideas across.
The WSW attendees only had 54 hours to prepare their pitches, from an absolute standing start.
Unfortunately, I missed the first and winning startup presentation by WagonShare, a web-oriented means for mobile home owners to make a bit of money by renting out their vehicle. In New Zealand, as in the USA, these campervans and caravans are usually sitting around unused – but would be perfect for rental.
Apparently WagonShare were the unanimous winners – evident in that the judges didn’t need to spend too much time deciding their favourite new business.
The other 11 pitches showed varying degrees of market validation or ways of assessing whether there is a market for their perceived product or service. A couple of the teams pivoted their business on the basis of such market assessment during the two and a half days of intense development – something that could and should happen during the creation of any new venture.
The pitches that took my fancy were:
- App/web-based way and tool for consumers to make better informed electricity use decisions
- A bit of gamification, a bit of compare yourself with other individuals and interest groups
- Apparently, PowerShop and other electricity retailers expressed interest in being part of such an offering
- A means/way to standardise the images from mammograms taken across years to see change/difference in breast tissue
- Could sit alongside Matakina Technology (which converts any digital breast mammogram into quantitative numbers in which tissue properties are characterised and differentiated)
- Indian-subcontinent oriented web-based matchmaking service based on Facebook’s friend recommendations
- Marketplace for digital art images
- A way to protect and make money for artists whose work is displayed on a screen
As a couple of WSW mentors both mentioned, the idea of the event isn’t necessarily to come up with a new idea or company that drives through to the market – though that’s not considered bad.
More, it is to inspire, educate and provide a template for entrepreneurs and would-be startups to have a go.
One thing Startup Weekends do really well is demonstrate, vividly, the value of a team and individuals’ skills within that environment.
As Melissa Clark-Reynolds said recently in a sticK blog, trying to do everything yourself in a fledgling company poised for growth just slows everything down and is easily sub-optimal.
In other words, teams work.
And, on a final note, a piece of WSW irony.
Even before the WSW started, the organisers felt that they were a bit light on the number of participants expected to turn up with developer skills (people who can computer code).
This was compounded (for the other teams at least), when – during the phase that the initial 12 winners have teams formed around them – many developers opted to join the 3Dmakersworld.com team.
You probably can’t call it the law of unintended consequences, but it is something similar!