Start-Up Weekend 2015 selects finalists

Start-up weekend.tom

Tom Moore at the 2014 Start-Up Weekend.

Tom Moore

Contributing Writer

This weekend, in conjunction with the Greater Pensacola Chamber and the Pensacola entrepreneurial community, UWF’s School of Business plays hosts to Startup Weekend 2015, a 54-hour event allowing participants to vet and pitch their business ideas. The participants’ goal is to be a finalist, and ultimately the winner, gaining support to make their idea a reality.

But it’s not all work. There is fun involved too. The sound of handclaps and cheering could be heard from the crowd Friday night in Building 76A, UWF School of Business. It was the kickoff “Rock Paper Scissors,” social mixer that whipped the crowd into a frenzy of shouting, stomping, clapping and finally chanting at a volume that would rival a Jerry Springer show.

This was just one of the many social mixers designed to raise the crowd’s spirits and help people get to know each other. Dean of UWF’s School of Business, Timothy O’Keefe, said it best when he took the podium.  

“The purpose of Start-up Weekend is to give students a taste of how what they are learning in the classroom can be applied to the real world,” O’Keefe said. “When we are sitting in a classroom, we often lose sight of the real world applications of what we are learning and why we are learning it.”

Once the crowd quieted down and everyone returned to his or her seat, it was time for the 60-second idea pitches. The criteria to pitch a business was very specific. The participants begin by stating their project number, their name, who they need on their team and what purpose their business will provide.

Within the first eight hours, 34 potential businesses were pitched, explained and voted on. After the final votes, the following six business are the finalists:

 

  1. “Dr. Know” – a database matching recent medical school graduates to the best hospital for their residency.
  2. “Level Up” for real-life – a mobile app listing businesses having community acclivities. App participants receive points from the businesses.  
  3. “Virtual Closet” – part database keeping inventory of closet contents and part algorithm matching cut, color, and summer or winter wear.
  4. Similar to “Pensacola.com” – mobile app helping people find activities they would find enjoyment in participating.
  5. “Virtual Eats” – database of healthy foods and virtual menus so meals can be perused virtually to allow for easy planning and purchasing of budget-wise healthy meals.
  6. “Item Return” – mobile app providing return information and refund status through the company database.

Participants and finalists spent the remainder of the evening forming teams, brainstorming ideas, devising strategies, and formulating the “game plan” for the rest of the weekend.  Sunday afternoon will be the deciding factor for six finalist teams, when they present their project to the judges.