From Idea to Startup in a Weekend

The Massage by Students Team Hard at Work at #SWSanAntonio

For the past two years, Keith Casey with Twilio has lived in Austin but he never visited San Antonio until Friday.
That’s when he made the 75 mile trip down I-35 to visit Geekdom, a collaborative coworking space on the 11th floor of the Weston Centre for Startup Weekend San Antonio.
“People are fired up,” Casey said on Saturday. He’s been commuting back and forth all weekend. “It’s nice.”
Casey volunteered to serve as a mentor to the eight teams formed at the San Antonio event.
Startup Weekend San Antonio kicked off Friday evening with a meet up over pizza and Alamo beer. Afterward, the 57 participants listened to Royce Haynes, a coordinator and entrepreneur who flew in from Boulder, Colo., give an overview of the program.
Andrew Hyde, an entrepreneur from Boulder, Colo., held the first Startup Weekend in 2007. Since then, 91 countries have hosted 468 events with 45,000 attendees.
Jennifer Navarrete, a social media entrepreneur, hosted the first Startup Weekend in San Antonio in 2008, the last time the event took place here.
The latest San Antonio Startup Weekend came together through the efforts of Allen Torng and Michele Stewart from Austin and Cristal Glangchai from San Antonio. Rackspace sponsored the event along with Geekdom. Other sponsors can be found on the event’s website.
After the presentation, the organizers had everyone play rock, paper, scissors to determine the order of presenters for the fast-pitch session. The last person standing got the first presentation slot. Everyone got 60 seconds to present to the group. If they went over their time, an annoying buzzer went off.

Startup Weekend San Antonio Organizer Michele Stewart chats with Geekdom Member Angel Marquez

Following the pitch, they each received a large white sheet of paper listing their project name, their name and a few words describing it, which they posted on a nearby wall.
After the fast pitch session, everyone received three yellow sticky notes. They voted on their favorite ideas with the sticky notes. The projects with the most votes got chosen. Those projects included Trakk-EM, a child tracking service, TrueAbility, a test to screen the technical ability of potential employees, BudgetAllies, a consumer budgeting service, Bike Identity, a RFID system to track stolen bikes, Massage by Students, a service that connects student masseuses with consumers, OurPart.us, a crowd fund raising program to help injured veterans remodel their homes, Apartment Assurance, a legal service for apartment dwellers, and Remainder.com, a budgeting service.

Part of the team behind TrueAbility taking a break

The heads of each team then told the crowd the type of services they were looking to fill. The teams formed and people went to work.
“There’s a lot that happened over night,” said Torng, one of the organizers
The team with Apartment Assurance pulled an all nighter, he said. They worked until sun up and continued to work throughout the next day, he said.
Another team, Remainder split up and a new team, SoundFly, a seven second micro-broadcasting site, emerged, Torng said.
The team behind Massage by Students spent the day visiting massage schools and interviewing potential customers to determine market demand, Torng said.
“The idea is to get in front of your potential customers,” he said.
When Casey first visited with the teams, he stayed in the background and listened. Then after a while, he asked them all the same question.
“I ask them where’s your revenue,” Casey said. “So many of the ideas are great hacks. But they’ve got to shift their mindset from creating a project to creating a product that they have to be able to sell.”
Casey asks every team to figure out who is going to give them money and design their product for those customers.
“Nobody really understands the full implications of that in the first hours,” Casey said.
But Saturday after lunch, he revisits the revenue question with the startups and by then they’ve got good answers to the revenue question, he said.

The Trakk-EM team at work

And by Sunday, the teams should have websites, product demos and pitches polished. At 5 p.m. they will pitch before a panel of judges and the best team wins a package of startup services valued at several thousand dollars.
One thing is for sure, no one goes hungry at Startup Weekend. The participants receive breakfast, lunch and dinner and several hundred dollars worth of every kind of snack imaginable. Saturday night they dined on County Line barbeque and Rackspace dropped off buckets of Blue Bell ice cream and fixings around 9 p.m. One refrigerator held just Alamo beer and Red Bull on Friday and by Saturday night it was almost empty. Torng was going to go on another Red Bull run Saturday night.

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