Tag: 3DS

Five Teams Pitch at 3 Day Startup San Antonio

Simon Barnett pitches ScriptFit at 3 Day Startup San Antonio

Simon Barnett pitches ScriptFit at 3 Day Startup San Antonio

Five teams pitched Sunday night at Geekdom at the culmination of the latest 3-Day Startup San Antonio.
The teams included Menu, a software program to allow customers to easily order takeout from restaurants, MicroStoreIt.com, a matchmaking service for empty commercial warehouses and consumers, Ripcord, an iPhone app that sounds an alarm and gets help, ScriptFit, a marketplace for academic papers, and Team Me Up, a sports league organizational Facebook app.
More than 30 people participated in the weekend long event in which they brainstormed ideas, formed companies, did market research, created prototypes and business plans and then pitched in front of a public audience.
“This kind of event brings the idea of accelerated proficiency to life,” said Bill Schley, author of the Unstoppables, a bestselling book on entrepreneurship. He volunteered to mentor the teams throughout the weekend. “We can create millions of more entrepreneurs if we just move people in motion quickly. It’s all about taking that first step and overcoming fear.”
The 3-Day Startup program has already launched dozens of companies in Central Texas including Hoot.me, Famigo, Embarkly, Grapevine, Monk’s Toolbox, ParLevel Systems and more. Some of them have gone out of business, others have been acquired and some have gone on to raise money.
The experience of participating in a 3-Day Startup weekend can convince someone to ditch his or her day job and go all in on entrepreneurship.
“It was intense. It was great. We spent at least 12 hours every day working nonstop,” said James Rubino, a medical professional and python developer who led the five-person MicroStoreIt.com team. “It’s a great experience for anyone even toying with the idea of being an entrepreneur. This was a priceless experience.”
Stephen Dyer, a chief operating officer for Garrison General Contractors, pitched Menu, an online ordering system that connects to a restaurant’s point of sale software. He said the company’s idea changed throughout the weekend and after meeting with potential customers and getting feedback on their original idea of a ranking system for menu items. The team plans to continue to develop their idea and perhaps pitch it to the Geekdom Fund, a seed stage investment fund.
At the end of the weekend, 3-Day Startup San Antonio organizers give out gold cans of red bull as awards to teams and individuals who put forth the most effort. Simon Barnett, a senior at Alamo Heights High School, received a Play-Doh award because he was too young for Red Bull.
Barnett, a member of Geekdom, gave the pitch for ScriptFit.
“It pivoted a lot before we got to a final version,” Barnett said.
A few of the members of the six person team are going to continue on with the idea and plan to work with the University of Texas system to further develop it.
“This was definitely a great experience,” Barnett said.

Inside 3DS (Part I)

By Ian Panchèvre
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

3dssatxDon’t tell anyone at Geekdom or Trinity, but I am a spy. I’ve harnessed my inner secret agent to assume a false identity – misrepresenting myself as an entrepreneur whose skills include the ever-so-vague “business strategy” and “ideation” – in hopes of being selected as a participant for 3 Day Startup.
What would I uncover if granted an opportunity to report on the event from the inside? Nefarious plots? Devious activity? Morally questionable practices? I could only imagine.
My ploy worked. It’s 1:30 AM and I’ve just returned to my abode after a fast-paced Day 1. Here’s how things went down:
3DS_Activity1First, it’s worth pointing out that for some nonsensical reason, the city decided to schedule a parade through downtown San Antonio on the same day as 3DS. Apparently there’s this thing called “Fiesta” going on. Clearly, the city didn’t think about the potential issues this scheduling decision would cause, because it absolutely wrecked havoc for 3DS participants. Closed streets and heavy traffic made navigating downtown exceptionally difficult. Very few people arrived to the event on time, yours truly was not excluded from the hassle.
I conquered this initial hurdle by parking a ways away and walking the rest of the distance – all while hoping (praying?) that the skies above did not suddenly release heavy rain during my period of vulnerability.
I made it to the 11th floor of the Weston Centre dry and in reasonably good spirits. Time to mingle. But first, let’s talk to people I already know because that’s easier than making new friends.
Okay, now we’re in the main room. Designers, developers, and “idea guys” of all ages were assembled together, listening to the event organizers introduce themselves, talk through logistics, and thank sponsors.
Now we are to break off into small groups. Stickers were carefully placed on our name tags, each representing an item or character that identified our pre-assigned group. I was seriously confused. My sticker looked like an urban street performer, and yet there was no such group. I eventually found the other, equally-confused, “wrestlers.”
“Groups A, B, and C would have been easier,” I thought to myself. But that probably wasn’t the point.
At this moment, the event became a little more personable. Prior to the small group sessions, a mixture of excitement and anxiousness stirred in the air. The mood relaxed once we were with a smaller group of peers.
Under the guidance of Greg Cerveny, a Geekdom community leader, we introduced ourselves and then briefly pitched our ideas.
Elvira Gonzalez, a 3DS veteran who is participating for the second time, explained that she “gained a lot of experience” the first time through, and so she “came back to learn more.” Gonzalez pitched two ideas to the group, a rating system for college athletic programs and coaches, and a parking tracking system for universities.
Paulo del Barrio, a UTSA student with a business background, was excited about the opportunity to “meet partners and supporters” for his project, an inventory management system for bars and restaurants.
Hector Villarreal, a young programmer, pitched his vision for an interactive whiteboard while noting that he was “learning so much and feeling comfortable pitching his idea.”
What came next would make the truest social Darwinist proud. Not everyone could win. Only one (or maybe two!) startup concepts would advance from each small group and earn the right to be pitched in front of the entire 3DS body.
My education startup, Prepd.In, was selected to advance. Success!
But I didn’t want to monopolize the opportunity. I, along with the rest of the group, encouraged Wesley Zernial to further develop his concept, a marketplace for grant writing, and pitch it as well.
3DS_Activity2At some point in this process, we became aware that food was available. Despite that insight, we decided to continue working on our pitches. The cost? My dinner was a slice of bread topped with corn. Darwin may also have some thoughts on that.
At any rate, we resumed our work; exploring ways of communicating our startup’s market opportunity and business model in a concise and persuasive manner.
Time to pitch. Prepd.In is called. I rise. I speak.
And now I listen.
The startup concepts that were presented ranged from the mature (DeansListJobs.com, 3D Pathos, Node Scanner, and CUBESpawn already had a bit of business and product development under their belts) to the interesting (Forever Young and Diversify Your Crowd sounded promising) and the redundant (I won’t name specific startups here, but plenty of them were pitching concepts that were already being done).
Once we completed the pitches and a brief Q&A session, we then voted as a group. Six startups were selected to be pursued during the remainder of the weekend.
The Republic of 3DS did not select my own.
Though disappointed, I can’t say that the outcome was entirely unexpected. My startup is pursuing a niche market opportunity that isn’t particularly flashy. And though I felt I had articulated a real opportunity for a viable, self-sustaining business, it ultimately didn’t resonate with an audience that would never use the product.
I was now face-to-face with “Dilemma.”
Do I join another group to be a good sport and roll with the nature of the event? Ah, but I so desperately want to devote my weekend to this project, my project, a real business, that I am actually starting! Do I go rogue and work on it anyway? If so, do I poach others from the established groups or do I fly solo?
While seeking advice from others, an interesting turn of events unfolded. Zernial, the other participant from my small group that pitched his startup – a marketplace for grant writing – had an idea.
His startup concept was actually selected. And since startups would be potential users of his product, he wanted to work with another startup to model his own endeavor off of.
“We can work together!” he reassured me. “And maybe we can file some grants for your business too.”
Okay, that sounds like a good deal.
The rest of the evening was spent in a conference room with a team of five other participants. After brief introductions, we got to work. We started by learning from Zernial the nature of the grant writing process. This exercise helped us identify actors and pain points. Then we hit Google. Soon enough, we had a shared excel sheet on Google Drive outlining all the “players” in our space. Limitations were identified, ideas were discussed, and the outline of a product began to emerge on a lean canvass mock-up.
Meanwhile, mentors frequently dropped in, asking us about our problem areas, differentiators, and ideas for monetization.
At one point, something rather miraculous happened. We went to GoDaddy to begin the ever-so-frustrating process of looking for domain names.
“I like grantsrus.com.”
“Taken.”
“Grantsr.us?”
“Nope, that’s taken too.”
“What about grantsforme.com?”
“Registered.”
“Grantsfor.me?”
“Wow! It’s available.”
Ten dollars later, we had secured our company name and URL – GrantsFor.me
That was unexpectedly easy and exciting. We like the name and we like the overall business opportunity. Furthermore, I was flattered that the group voted me as their CEO.
Now the real work begins. Let’s get to it.

“Inside 3DS” is a series written by Ian Panchèvre. It covers Three Day Startup, which is an event organized by Trinity University and hosted at Geekdom, from the perspective of a participant. Stay tuned for Part II.

Disclaimer: Geekdom is a sponsor of siliconhillsnews.com

Entrepreneurs hope to launch the next big thing at 3 Day Startup San Antonio

In 72 hours, a group of strangers met, brainstormed ideas and then built working prototypes for six companies.
The companies included Spear Guard, an e-mail security firm, Renew Couture, a recycled clothing line, Stride Sync, a music sharing app, Golf Average, a statistical analysis app to improve golf performance, SimpLingo, a browser plug-in to learn a foreign language and Approachab.ly, a professional networking app made for conference attendees.
The newfound entrepreneurs took part in 3 Day Startup weekend in San Antonio at Geekdom, a downtown co-working and collaborative workspace.
“This is the best one we’ve had in San Antonio by far,” said Cam Houser, one of the founders of 3DS. “The crop of ideas were really strong. The execution was just great.”
That’s impressive praise considering the last two 3DS weekends in San Antonio created at least two companies that are still running and that have received venture funding. One of those is FanDash, a site for band promotion and Console.FM, formerly known as HelloWorld.Im. Console.FM, created in the Spring of 2011, is now part of Dave McClure’s 500Startups incubator.
The 3DS weekend teaches students and young professionals about entrepreneurship and creates real ventures that go on to further develop their products and services, said Cristal Glangchai, a professor of entrepreneurship at Trinity and one of the organizers. Trinity, Rackspace, TechStars and Geekdom sponsored the event.
Successful entrepreneurs also lent their expertise to the various groups throughout the weekend. The mentors included Pat Condon, one of the founders of Rackspace, Ryan Kelly, founder of Pear Analytics, Jason Seats, founder of SliceHost, Nick Longo, founder of CoffeCup Software, Todd Morey, founder of Mosso, a cloud company within Rackspace and Alan Weinkrantz, a public relations expert who runs his own firm.
In addition, several members of 3DS, a nonprofit organization which puts on the events worldwide, helped. The next 3DS is next weekend in the Netherlands.
Throughout the weekend, participants experienced “a lot of extremes,” Houser said. Some entrepreneurs got their ideas extinguished early on. Others discovered, after a lot of work, that their idea wouldn’t work. One guy stayed up for 27 hours straight to work on programming a new site. Some people never left the building except to interview potential customers.
On Friday, the groups voted on the best ideas and decided who they wanted to work with to develop the idea into a company. But on Sunday, some of the original groups no longer existed like Hole in the Wall, a local restaurant review app. After doing some research, they decided the market was too saturated with similar apps so those team members went to work on other projects, Houser said.
And a new company emerged on Saturday.
Vyjayanthi Vadreavu originally pitched the idea for a documentary on homeless people and a recycled clothing line. Her idea did not get enough votes to make the final projects.
But Saturday morning, she found some people who wanted to work on it. She talked to Glangchai, one of the organizers of 3DS San Antonio, who encouraged her to pursue the idea, but with a different focus.
On Sunday, Vadreavu pitched Renew Couture with a new team. The group collects gently used clothing, delivers the items to student clothing designers at local universities and then sells the clothes made from recycled material.
An estimated four million tons of clothes get discarded every year, Vadreavu said. The opportunity to take some of the clothes and make them into new garments is huge, she said. The company would work with five local fashion schools to create the clothes.
“The clothes get a second life and the customer gets a one of a kind item,” she said.
This was the first time Vadreavu, 26, who works at Rackspace, participated in a 3DS. She plans to continue to work with her group to get the company launched and funded.
“I think it’s such a fantastic experience,” she said. “I wish I knew about it earlier in my career.”
Another woman-led venture, SimpLingo, started out as Babbling on Friday, but changed its name and refined its focus after doing a lot of research and talking with mentors, said Amando Wolf, a junior majoring in Chinese language studies at Trinity.
SimpLingo is a simple way to learn a foreign language, particularly Spanish. It’s a browser-based plug-in to translate portions of text online based on a person’s level of proficiency.
“You don’t have to deviate from your daily routine to learn the lingo,” Wolf said during her pitch.
SimpLingo was the only company to ask for money outright.
“I did the last 3 Day Startup,” said Cassie Robinson, a sophomore at Trinity studying religion, entrepreneurship and business and a team member of SimpLingo. “One of the ideas that did really well, they asked for money.”
So Robinson put up a slide requesting $10,000 and provided a bank account and routing number.
The panel of judges liked the idea and the fact they asked for funding. The panel included Jay Campion, a venture capitalist, Sheridan Chambers, one of the founders of The Denim Group, Dirk Elmendorf, one of the founders of Rackspace, Suizo Mendler, a former Rackspace executive and now TechStars mentor and George Karutz, an investment banker.
SimLingo has a lot of potential, said Alex Butler, a senior majoring in engineering at Trinity and one of the team members. “It’s really scalable.”
After the pitches, the various groups worked the crowd to talk to potential investors.
Luke Carriere, head of Approachab.ly, started out pitching the app as a dating app and then switched to a professional networking app after researching the market.
“The problem was adoptability,” Carriere said. “Partnering with events organizers was a way to ensure there was a critical mass of users.”
Approachab.ly is planning a beta launch of its product in the Spring of 2012, said Carriere, a graduate business student at Fordham University who is doing a internship at the Austin Technology Incubator. He says he has $10,000 in funding from an angel investor to pursue the idea.
“It’s a way to reach out and meet new people at the same events,” Carriere said. “We think there is a market for that. And this is just the beginning.”

Five companies under development at 3 Day Startup San Antonio

About 40 aspiring entrepreneurs gathered Friday afternoon at Geekdom downtown for 3 Day Startup San Antonio.
They brought sleeping bags, backpacks, computers and tents.
They had plenty of fuel to get them through the weekend with two refrigerators filled with Red Bull, sodas, gatorade, juice boxes, water, beer and fruit. An entire shelf held dozens of different kinds of snacks including Cheez-Its, Oreo cookies, Snickers bars and granola bars.
They spent an hour getting to know one another before breaking into eight color-coded groups to brainstorm ideas to create a new company. From 3:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. they worked in different offices hashing out their ideas on white boards. More than a dozen mentors and organizers also helped the participants formulate their ideas.
Luz Cristal Glangchai, associate director of Trinity University’s Center for Entrepreneurship, oversees the program.
Nick Longo, who founded Coffeecup Software, and now heads up the Geekdom, and Todd Morey, who helped create Rackspace’s cloud business, would pop in and out of the offices, offering advice.
Longo told the green team to keep in mind “what problem am I trying to solve? How large is my market? And can I execute it?”
He told them that there are a lot of sites like Prezi, Woofoo forms and Chargify that already exist that could help them mock up a website.
Morey told them to keep in mind the cost of acquiring customers.
“Going viral is not a strategy,” Longo said. “Google Ad words is not a strategy.”
The green group came up with an idea for putting a friendly face on a computer repair service targeted at the elderly and people with learning disabilities.
Longo recommended googling “The Pirate Metrics” on acquiring and retaining customers and to follow advice articulated by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup.
“If it takes too much money upfront it’s non-executable,” Longo said.
The yellow group listed a bunch of problems on a white board and then brainstormed solutions for them. They included a parking app to reserve a parking space, a grocery list helper app and a language app to help learn a foreign language.
Ryan Kelly, owner of Pear Analytics and a mentor, suggested the group gamify the language app.
“Make learning a language more fun,” he said.
Around 6 p.m., the groups broke for a catered dinner of Dicky’s barbecue brisket sandwiches, potato salad and beans. And then they went back to their offices to create powerpoint presentations and solidify their ideas.
At the pitch session, the groups presented their ideas on a giant screen. The pitches ranged from a dating app to cloud computing platform. The first pitch was for GolfAverage.com, an in-depth statistics site for golfers, which keeps track of a current game and past performance, followed by Penny for Your Thoughts, a documentary on homeless people and a sustainable clothing line.
Other ideas included BookZingo.com, a marketplace for college students to sell their textbooks, Transparent Mortgages, a site for first time homebuyers and those with credit issues, Clan, an app for music sharing, Spear Phishing, a virus and malware prevention platform, Hole in the wall, a local restaurant review site, Approachab.ly, a dating app, Kudotree, a personal recommendation site and Babbling, a program to learn a foreign language intuitively.
In the end, the group voted by putting their heads down with closed eyes and raising their hands for the idea with the greatest chance of success and the idea that they most wanted to work on. Each member had two votes.
Ideas around the hot trends of mobile, social and location garnered the most interest. The final five ideas with the most votes included GolfAverage.com, Approachab.ly, Babbling, Clan and Spear Phishing. The group leader stood before the crowd and told them what kinds of skills were needed to build out the company and then people decided whether they wanted to work for them. The largest groups formed around Approachab.ly and Babbling. Around 10 p.m. they headed for offices to get back to work. Meanwhile, Clan bit the dust. And Hole in the Wall re-emerged as a company with five people wanting to work for the idea.
“That’s going to happen,” said Rachit Shah, one of the original founders of 3DS.
“Another company will probably fail before the night’s over,” said Cam Houser, another original founder of 3DS. Four University of Texas graduate students in business, computer science, engineering and law started 3 Day Startup in 2008 and now they run it full time as a nonprofit organization.
“It’s an entrepreneurship education program for university students,” Houser said. “We were grad students and didn’t feel like the student potential for entrepreneurship was being met. More could be done to help students start ventures.”
The idea is a popular one. 3DS has put on programs around the world including China and Germany.
“You have to apply, submit a resume, pitch an idea and get interviewed,” Houser said. “Most of the people who want to participate in a 3DS are pretty passionate.”
The San Antonio program was the 17th 3DS.
“It’s free to participants,” Houser said. “We’re giving them a scholarship.” It costs around $500 per person which includes catered meals, snacks and drinks and place to hold the event. Corporate sponsors contribute the bulk of the money.
“The only time they leave the building is to talk to customers,” Houser said. “On Sunday, their eyes are bloodshot and they smell bad but they’re really fired up.”
The 3DS organizers do have rules. They don’t let pre-existing companies pitch and they don’t allow anyone to pitch porn sites.
“It ranges from an idea on a napkin, up to they’ve done a lot of market research and they have a site in mind,” Houser said. “We provide an exciting and high energy environment that resembles a startup with long hours and overlaying order onto chaos.
So far, 16 companies have spun out of 3Ds that have raised $4 million, Houser said. They include Hoot.me, FanDash, Console.FM and Famigo.
FanDash, formerly BandDemand.com, is one of the startups to spin out of the San Antonio 3DS program.
The founder of Hurricane Party pitched his idea but no one wanted to do it, Houser said. But he did meet five of his six members of his team at 3DS, he said. The company is now called Foreca.st and is doing well.
Christian Salmagne from Aachen, Germany, brought 3DS startup to his hometown last summer. Forty students met at the RWTH Aachen University and at least one of the companies is still up and running, Salmagne said. The company is Tamyca.de, which stands for Take My Car. It’s a peer to peer personal car sharing site.
Salmagne attended the San Antonio 3DS. He’s currently doing a three month fellowship at the Austin Technology Incubator to learn about entrepreneurship so he can take his knowledge back to his hometown to help with Germay’s startup community.
“I’m helping people and observing,” Salmagne said. “I like to experience this energy. You get addicted to it.”

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