This past weekend, Puerto Rico had its first official Startup Weekend event. The premise was simple: launch a startup in 54 hours.
Over 50 passionate designers, developers, business development and creatives met on Friday night and pitched dozens of ideas. Every one got to pick their top three ideas and quickly assembled into seven teams. Their goal: have a fully developed business model and a prototype ready by Sunday evening, where each would pitch a panel of angel investors and venture capitalists and take a chance at winning thousands of dollars in prizes and in-kind services.
Our hosts were the incredible team from Seriously Creative, an amazing space designed to nurture creativity and inspire groups of people, located in Cupey Alto. Giovanni Collazo and José Padilla, the team behind Blimp and organizers of Barcamp San Juan, joined up with Ramphis Castro and Marcos Polanco, hosts of last year’s “Startups on a Global Stage”, to take on the challenge of organizing Puerto Rico’s Startup Weekend debut. Ramphis served as the Facilitator, and along with Dana Montenegro and his team at Seriously Creative, they were able to deliver a top-notch quality event.
Along with the organizers, a team of advisers and mentors was on hand during the weekend to help each team with product development, marketing, design, legal assistance, and business model development. Edgardo Jimenez, Ivan Rios, Rocío del Mar, Omar Ramos, Pablo Lopez and myself made up this team of advisers, with Paulo da Silva and Toni Gemayel as mentors.
Once the seven teams had been finalized, they each got set up in their own open office. At Seriously Creative there is an abundance of fun and quirky settings, and with all the food and drinks taken care of, teams were pretty much set for the weekend. We the advisers made our rounds through each office, listening in on the brainstorming that was taking place as each team honed down their chosen idea. By the end of the night, most teams had already settled on a game plan that was to be iterated on and executed during the rest of the weekend.
By midday Saturday, advisers started hosting office hours, with each of us sitting down with teams for blocks of half an hour to discuss how each would develop their product, build a prototype, and monetize it.
Sunday morning came and it was time to get ready to have something presentable for the judges: Toni Gemayel, Carlos Garcia, and Guillermo Bermudez. They were presented with these seven products:
A mobile app that incorporates a panic button used for alerting close contacts during an emergency. It’s timed location tracking kicks in if you fail to check in once you’ve made it to your car after a scary walk through a dark parking lot, as an example.
A hosted Q&A solution that incorporates message board style conversations and makes use of SEO to help drive users to your main product.
Mobile game app framework that emulates old-style arcade ticket dispensers and enables gamers to exchange them for real world prizes. Developers who incorporate this framework will be able to monetize their games by selling tickets themselves using in-app purchases.
Imaginary getaways for kids. Buy a ticket for an amazing adventure to the North Pole and experience it as if you were there yourself through the virtual world in your mobile device.
Waiters, ditch the pen and pad, and use your iPhone to send orders straight to the kitchen. No more walking back and forth from table to kitchen.
Provide immediate feedback to companies about their employees. Positive feedback is exposed and great employees are rewarded immediately. Geared towards the tourism industry, specifically taxi cab companies, its aim is to improve the experience for all tourists.
Social Time Clock
Geolocated social network built around venues and close groups of friends. Track where your inner circle is hanging out, and interact and make friends at each venue using the in-app chat system which can only be used by those nearby.
Each presentation was followed by a round of Q & A from the judges. Once the presentations were over, the judges convened to decide upon a winner. Each team was given three votes to give to another team, as a way of picking the People’s Choice winner. Two teams ended up in a tie, so advisers were brought in as a tie-breaker, with Table Order being picked as the winner.
Soon enough, judges were ready to announce the winner of Startup Weekend Puerto Rico:
Congratulations to the Tipbell team for winning Startup Weekend, we are looking forward to seeing this product launch!
As winners of Startup Weekend Puerto Rico 2011, the Tipbell team gets:
- $24,000 in Rackspace hosting
- $40,000 in Legal consulting (incorporation, founder documents, etc)
- $10,000 in Marketing consulting (SEO/SEM, Social Media, etc)
- $200 in AWS credit
- $50 Twilio credit
- Access to apply to Startup Labs
- $10,000 in Business Model consulting
To the rest of the teams, don’t stop. Keep working on your product – it can be the same one you came up with this last weekend, or you can choose to focus on a new direction. Just don’t stop. Keep working, keep trying new approaches. Hopefully everyone has learned new skills this last weekend that will help them come up with a successful business.
I’m really proud of the team behind Startup Weekend Puerto Rico. Something big took place this past weekend in Puerto Rico. Our startup community is still nascent, but its getting there. Its now up to all of us to keep the ball rolling and get the startup ecosystem built up.
Check out Seriously Creative’s Facebook page for more photos! Edgardo Jimenez wrote an insightful post that touches on the demographics, perseverance, performance and delivery of this special group of people at Startup Weekend Puerto Rico.