A total of 30 startup enthusiasts in five different teams worked around the clock last weekend, to come up with the next big startup idea during a special Startup Weekend Summer Camp edition at Groningen Airport Eelde.
Startup Weekend is a 54-hour weekend event with editions around the world, where developers, business managers, startup enthusiasts, students, marketing gurus and graphic artists get together and collaborate. They pitch ideas for new startup companies, form teams around those ideas, and work to develop a working prototype, demo, or presentation by Sunday evening, in front of the judges, who select the overall winners based on validation, execution & design and a solid business model.
STARTUP WEEKEND GOES CAMPING
The summer edition was a bit of a departure from the hustle and bustle of the Big Building, Startup Weekend’s venue of choice. Big, green army tents were set up at an abandoned flight school, a literal stone’s throw away from Groningen Airport Eelde. Participants camped out from Friday to Sunday last weekend, enjoying the weather while working on their ideas.
In the late afternoon sun on Sunday, the teams were busy with the final preparations, tweaking, adjusting and perfecting. At 6:30 pm, the 30 contestants went to the main hall on the second floor of the flight school building, for the final pitches, feedback from the judges and the chance to go home as winners.
BEATS FOR THE DEAF, LATE NIGHT MUNCHIES & THE ARRIBA BOYS
International Startup Weekend facilitator Géza Bence Molnár flew in from Copenhagen to act as presenter. Startup Weekend veteran and Groningen’s Chief Digital Officer Nick Stevens, developer Jan Henk Hazelaar and social impact consulting agency Bries founder Alexandra Sfintesco act as judges.
Beats for the Deaf is the first team to present, handing out balloons to the audience to let them feel the vibration of the music. Their idea: vibrating wearables for deaf people, so they can dance to the rhythm when they go out, but also to warn them of ambulances or when someone calls out their name.
The second team based recognized the immediate practical problem of lack of pizza on the first evening and no late night delivery in rural Eelde. They came up with a late night, last minute delivery and catering service for small events outside of the city.
The hilariously named (though one of the judges didn't think so) Arriba Boys presented their idea of crowdfunding mortgages for millennials. With today’s low interest rates on savings, the platform would be very attractive for family businesses or independent entrepreneurs saving up for their retirement, who would get a stable and better alternative for a savings account.
THE ULTIMATE SUMMER SPORT AND FINDING CLEAN TOILETS
The fourth team came up with the ultimate sport to play with friends during the summer, called Switch. A combination of different sports and partly based on the hugely popular video game Overwatch, the team’s idea for a business model and to promote the sport at the same time, is printing branded logo’s on the game, much in the same way as the Dopper water bottles. The team contacted the Healthy Aging Network on Sunday, who were willing to buy the first 100 game sets.
Team Loo discovered that 95% of people going to a bar or restaurant, won’t come back if the toilet is dirty. They presented an idea for an app that lets users find the nearest toilet, along with user reviews of how clean they are.
HACKING THE SYSTEM
After a round of critical questions after each individual pitch and a quick deliberation, judge Nick Stevens announces they’re going to hack the system by not picking a single winner. Rather than the winner takes all principle, the judges decide each team can go home with the prize that would benefit them most. In the case of Soyuz Late Night Pizza delivery for example, that would be the Beerders Pack, a fancy case of beer, to do a little more research.
Team Loo could do with some local promotion when they launch their app, so they won a €500 cheque for online promotion by local media outlet Sikkom. According to the judges, team Switch somewhat underestimated the problems of import and export for the physical manufacturing of their game, which happens to be Nick Stevens’ area of expertise: “You guys buy the beers, I’ll sit down with you and help out with some consulting.”
So no real winner at all? For the symbolic bragging rights, Nick let’s the audience decide, using a decibel meter on his phone. The loudest applause (by a very small margin) and thus the team going home with the bragging rights: team Switch!
Photo credit: Joost Nuijten