This past weekend I took the opportunity to once again participate in another startup event. This one was only 24 hours, and was run by the fine folks at Startup Laurer, Nspire, and the UW Entrepreneurship Society.
The format was very similar to that of Startup Weekend's, which I blogged about last month. It started off with a keynote from the founding team at Thalmic Labs, who outlined their extraordinary experience since inception 18 months ago, and set the pace for what to expect over the next 24 hours.
Everyone who had an idea was then called up to pitch. Unlike at Startup Weekend, the pitches seemed very well prepared. While some of the ideas left a lot to be desired, everyone was able to get their points across in the 30 seconds.
I decided not to pitch this time. Partially because I didn't have an idea in mind, but mostly because I wanted to get a taste of what contributing to someone else's team & idea was like, having already captained my own team at Startup Weekend.
The first thing I noticed: it's a lot more difficult joining someone else's team. The second I mentioned that I had a business & marketing background was the second that most captains gave me the shun. Apparently having business expertise isn't cool anymore; being a mobile application developer is what's cool.
After making the rounds, I was without much luck. Maybe I didn't hustle hard enough, but I was left without a team. It was at that moment that I realized there were 4 other people without a team. It turns out that they were all Laurier business students as well... whaddya know?
We rebelled against the teams of developers, and formed a 5 person powerhouse oozing of business prowess.
None of us had pitched an idea, so we were literally starting at ground zero. We sat around the table munching on Hawaiian pizza, throwing every idea we could think of at the whiteboard. Multiple slices later, we narrowed it down to 2, which we then proceeded to pitch to anyone and everyone we could find in the Communitech building. One idea got a considerably better reception than the other, and that is when SNIPED. was born.
We worked day and night (and then day again) on the idea, finalizing the concept, getting feedback, iterating, getting more feedback, designing a prototype, getting user validation, and finally putting together a rocking 2 minute presentation.
Here's what we came up with:
SNIPED. is an app that helps you quickly find the clothes you want and easily discover new styles. You choose what you're looking for (sweaters, jeans etc.) and simply swipe to the right if you like the item, or swipe to the left you don't.
Based on a crowd-sourced algorithm, the more clothes you swipe through, the more likely the app will be able to predict what you will like.
It features an extremely simple interface, and is designed to allow you to get your shopping done during the commercials while watching your favourite TV shows.
It's targeted towards Planners and Browsers. Planners are the people (like myself) who don't care much for the 'shopping experience.' I want to know what I'm getting before I go to the mall, go in and get it, then get out. The app allows me to do just that.
Browsers view fashion as a hobby, frequently creating wishlists and continually look for inspiration before heading out for their next shopping trip. The app allows them to easily discover new and popular styles.
With the power of social media, we were able to run the concept through 100 of our friends in about 30 min, who are essentially our demographic. These are the results we got:
Our presentation went extremely well, and the questions from the panel of judges were about what we expected. While we did not place in the top 3 (out of 12 teams), I was definitely satisfied with our overall performance. Had we been able to actually code a working prototype of our app, I think the end-result would have been a bit different.
Overall, this was another highly successful event for me personally. I made a bunch of new connections, experienced a new team dynamic, learned from their experiences, continued my pursuit in learning what it takes to establish a successful business, practiced my public speaking skills, and got a ton of free food (courtesy of the amazing Meal in a Jar and others).
It won't be long until the next one...