When Dave Durand, CEO of Forest Giant, came to Startup Weekend, he was there to be a mentor.
After all, he’d started a number of businesses and even sold one. But the thrill of the startup was too much of a pull, and he joined 15 other entrepreneurs in Friday night’s pitch session.
But Durand’s business idea for a local blog aggregator didn’t make the cut when it came down to voting to create teams.
Fifteen minutes after joining a team that wasn’t sure it was going to be able to see its product through in a weekend, Durand bolted and chose to create his own team anyway.
By the time Durand asked me to defect from Game City, he’d already poached two other team members. Shane Logsdon is a back end web developer with Blackstone Media and a freelancer. Ukiah Smith is a front end web developer for Power Creative and owner of Faction42, a company that creates websites.
Durand is the design guy. In addition to being a freelance journalist, I’ve been blogging about Louisville for six years at My Loueyville, and I just launched Chipman Creative, a writing, editing, and social media business.
I’m project manager/networking for the CityAnchor team.
We were the smallest team. We were the one team that wasn’t supposed to exist. And as I have mentioned in my previous articles, I was the only woman at the event.
Over the course of the fifty-some hour event, we went from Durand’s pitch to revenue-generating startup with a live (albeit still buggy) product.
We call it CityAnchor.
CityAnchor is a curated event, arts, music, and food blog aggregator. The live version of CityAnchor currently includes 16 Louisville blogs. We vet our blogs, so only the most trusted voices are collected on CityAnchor. If you’re a local, we’re a one-stop shop for all of the best culture blogs in the city. If you’re a visitor to Louisville, you can check out CityAnchor and see what the locals are doing and promoting.
On Saturday, we put a market survey online and brought in a focus and demo group of movers and shakers in the Louisville arts and social media community, including Kirsty Gaukel, PR Director for Actors Theatre; Kyle Ware, director of Tourism Honors Academy, artist, and member of Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble; and Richard Meadows, social media expert.
We also hit social media hard. As I am writing, we have 110 followers on Twitter and 72 “likes” on Facebook. Not too shabby for a little more than 24 hours. Leveraging my 2150+ followers on Twitter (@loueyville), CityAnchor also pulled in three “founding sponsors” on Sunday: Nuts N Stuff, a bulk retailer on Barret Ave; Social Concierge, a new social media startup; and Derby City Chop Shop, the stylish barber shop on Bardstown Road.
We were the only startup to start generating revenue by presentation time, a fact that won us good favor from the judges.
At 6 p.m. on Sunday, the six remaining teams pitched their ideas in front of a packed room and a panel of five judges:
Kent Oyler – founder of High Speed Access (first tech IPO from KY) and OPM.
Doug Cobb – Entrepreneur-in-residence at Chrysalis Ventures
Bob Saunders – Managing Director at Saunders Capital
Lou Kelmanson – angel investor
Fred Durham – Founder & former CEO of CafePress
Only five of the six teams had an actual startup to pitch. The sixth and final presenting team had pivoted and failed so many times that their presentation, which earned a standing ovation, ended up being about what not to do.
Nick Huhn, the presenter and one of the hosts of Startup Weekend Louisville, gave the presentation, and at the afterparty at Garage Bar, we discovered that it had not been caught on video. If it had, it should have been mandatory viewing at all future Startup Weekend events.
The remaining five startups hit it out of the park with their presentations.
SproutHub is a mobile farmers’ market – a food truck that sells produce direct from farmers. You can find out where the SproutHub truck will be by monitoring a map app or by receiving text messages from the service.
Game City is an app that “gamifies” attending local events. Earn points by checking into an event – a festival, a play, a marathon, a local business– and redeem those points for discounted entry to events, prizes, and other incentives.
Gwaled (pronounced “wallet”) is a mobile app that stores and manipulates loyalty rewards data. Customers can trade loyalty cards and give them as gifts.
PT Pal had a slick presentation for their web-based and app-supported physical therapy monitoring company. Physical therapists can monitor patients’ in-home exercise participation, using guilt-driven accountability and a rewards system to help patients heal better faster.
After Durand’s presentation, Meadows, who also attended the pitch to the judges, came up to the CityAnchor table, grabbed a note pad, and wrote his reaction. The sticky note simply read, “AWESOME.”
While the judges conferred, the rest of us mingled and networked. Twice in that twenty minutes, I was told that there were two or three “viable business models” among the five presenters – and both times, CityAnchor wasn’t one of them.
Zach Cohn, from the Startup Weekend HQ in Seattle, reconvened the meeting to announce the winners.
And CityAnchor won.
Me and my guys? We won the inaugural Startup Weekend Louisville.