|Photo by Jeff Tong (Keadworks)|
The only thing I stopped to do was get my car window replaced, buy a new Macbook and of course go for a short run to gather my thoughts. Other than that, it was all backend work and all through the night. Thank goodness it was raining outside.
Senodja swung my house at 11:00 AM Sunday as I putting the final touches to our site. We then jumped in her car and raced up I-95 towards Charm City, rehearsing our presentation on the fly.
|Photo by Jeff Tong|
All the teams at Bio Park (Univ of Maryland) in Baltimore were very busy putting things together. I had never seen so many people so focused on a project -- most of which were birthed on Friday night.
It's also amazing how Baltimore has evolved as a serious startup city over the last few years.
According to Ron Schmelzer, Techstars mentor and investor and one of the judges for the competition, Startup Weekend is proving that there is enough "critical mass" to build a sustainable startup culture in Baltimore similar to what Boston has done.
After dinner and well-wishes, we raced to the auditorium to hear the final demos -- all 22 of them.
Though it would be a long night, all the presenters were extremely engaging. Everyone -- entrepreneur, developer, marketer -- were enormously talented and all their creative juices gushed out throughout the entire weekend.
What was truly amazing was how folks who didn't even know each other before Friday night get together and collaborate so beautifully to create a product, a business model and a polished presentation in a mere 54 hours.
|My one-minute pitch on Friday night|
Normally, I hate lectures, but I completely loved listening to what these innovative presenters had to say. The best part of all the hard work was finally sitting down with an open mind and listening to all the fantastic demos -- many of these apps -- I want and need right away and I could see myself being a huge user someday.
RUNIN Out presented midway through the demos. Once again, I started out with the car break-in story:
"I woke up Friday morning and I was really happy. That's because sitting in my inbox was a Living Social Dollar Lunch to dozens of restaurants all over the city. I was more than happy -- I was stoked!
I was on my way to Baltimore, heading to Startup Weekend, so just prior to leaving the city, I conveniently stopped at a very nice restaurant in Dupont Circle.
The restaurant was cozy with a nice ambience. But because I wanted to arrive in Baltimore before the rush hour traffic, I grabbed something to go and quickly returned to my car, only to find window glass all over the sidewalk and my backpack with my Macbook Pro and Canon Videocamera was conveniently lifted from my car seat.
I would have screamed if it wasn't for the pleasant demeanor of a young lady who was already on the phone with the police. Tinoi was having lunch in a restaurant directly across the street. She had seen the whole thing -- a vagrant thug was walking up and down 17th Street NW looking into cars.
|My 5-minute Demo|
By the time I arrived, a mere five minutes had escaped. I was livid. When the officer arrived he explained to me that there has been a rash of break-ins lately. If I had taken the time to look at SpotCrime, I would have found this out, but who does have the time.
Furthermore, I didn't really enjoy the lunch downtown. I didn't have a chance to read consumer reviews from sites like Yelp because, well, I just didn't have the time.
The first thing I did after I called the police was to post an update on Facebook that my car was broken into and my laptop stolen. Mike Brenner from Startup Weekend Baltimore immediately contacted me and informed me that they could easily refund my money.
I thanked Mike for the offer but said heck no. Come hell or high water I was heading to Baltimore. I had an idea to pitch and I wasn't quitting until I made it."
|Ron Schmelzer, Techstars Mentor and Investor|
talks with Yasmine Mustafa
As I told the story, Senodja deftly ran the demo illustrating its value in selecting restaurants by location, occasion and appeal (look and taste).
www.Runinout.com is a personalized experience portal that crawls the internet for relevant reviews and trends and creates a comprehensive rating report that is personalized to the individual’s specific preferences. RUNIN Out’s proprietary algorithm also incorporates expert review ratings and the user’s personal preferences. RUNIN Out’s food genome creates a personalized food profile for each user based on the latest input, restaurant selections, types of images clicked and user feedback. Like Pandora for music, the more you interact with RUNIN Out, the more better it gets to know you.
Once the demos were over, I was tremendously rewarded by sensing the great vision of all these promising entrepreneurs, many of them will one day become ultra successful and create products that will change the lives for everyone now and for the future.
3rd place: Dapprly + Talkchalkco
2nd place: ispylocal
1st place: Parking Panda
Yes I loved all these ideas and more. One crowd favorite: Greenlyyt , an IPhone application that lets users find nightclubs frequented by single people.
But best of all, meeting and collaborating with wonderful like-minded friends and colleagues -- invaluable experience for life.
Click here to read about Friday Night's Pitch