In Case You Missed It: Our Twelve Favorite Things About Startup Weekend New Haven 2012

Startup Weekend New Haven came back for its second year in 2012 with many new faces, new ideas, and new milestones reached. In case you missed the 54-hour long event that took place at The Grove in New Haven from November 9-11, here’s a recap of our twelve favorite things about SW NH 2012.

1) The Organizers making ‘it’ happen.

Organizers play a big role in the development of Startup Weekend. We had an all-star team on hand to cover everything from the venue, to ticket sales, and even food. This team includes:

Katelyn Anton - Independent Software Derek Koch - Independent Software
Slate Ballard – The Grove
Kathleen Krolak - EDC New Haven
Ethan Carlson - Red Ox, Venture for America Mike RoerThe Entrepreneurship Foundation
Giulia GougeShesosocial John Seiffer - Better CEO
Alena Gribskov - Yale Entrepreneurial Institute Rohit Sharma - EDC New Haven

2) Our awesome Facilitator.

As you may already know, Startup Weekend New Haven is its own, individual event, but it is also part of a bigger movement. Startup Weekend events are hosted in cities around the globe each year. In fact, so many cities choose to host a Startup Weekend event that events are often held on the same weekend. This year, New Haven hosted its event at the same time as London, UK; Seoul, KR; Tulsa, US; Hong Kong, CN; Boston, US; Houston, US; Istanbul, TR; and Bern, CH – just to name a few!

All of this madness is managed through the Startup Weekend headquarters in Seattle, WA with a team who’s passionate about motivating startup energy all around the globe. For each Startup Weekend event, a trained facilitator (from a pool which Startup Weekend manages) volunteers joins the event to facilitate.  New Haven was truly lucky this year to welcome Claire Topalian, who is both a facilitator AND part of the Startup Weekend HQ team. From the moment she arrived, she was hands-on and very involved in helping the organizing team get their plans into action.

Follow Claire on Twitter at @ClaireTopalian

3) Our registration list.

As Hurricane Sandy tore through our region in the beginning of November, much of the Organizing team was concerned with the affects that damage and power outages would have on the event.  In spite of all the disruption and chaos Sandy inflicted on the region, registration spiked.  As doors opened on Friday night, we registered more people than last year, and welcomed an even more diverse crowd of programmers, designers, developers, and pitchers.

4) Two awesome venues.

SWNH 2011 was held solely at The Grove.  This year, we branched out to include a new local space: Gateway Community College. The Grove, a co-working space situated in the heart of New Haven’s Art District in the Ninth Square, was the perfect place to host Friday night’s pitches and for each team to work throughout the weekend. The Grove has open rooms of different sizes that are great for open collaboration, but also flexible enough to be closed and private when the situation calls for it.

On Sunday, SWNH participants, organizers, and mentors met up with judges and the press at Gateway Community College for Sunday night’s final presentations. A large stage and room with capacity for the entire community was a great asset for the unveiling of seven new startups.

5) South Bend: Let’s battle, bro!

To add to the fun, Startup Weekend cities are paired with each other for a head-to-head Twitter “battle.”  For every unique tweet that carries the city’s hashtag, they earn a point.  This year, New Haven was pitted against South Bend, Indiana for a Twitter battle that ended in sweet victory for us.  New Haven attendees, participants, and other advocates kept busy throughout the weekend by tweeting with the hashtag, #swnewhaven. The final score is shown in the screenshot below, taken at the end of the competition.

17

6) The sick threads.

As part of registration, each participant was outfitted with an awesome, one-of-a-kind Startup Weekend New Haven t-shirt. The design was dreamed up and brought to reality by Independent Software’s very own Klayton Wald. You’ve never seen a free t-shirt look this cool.

7) The teams.

On Friday night, the crowd gathered to watch approximately thirty (30) pitches ranging from the financial, education, project management, and gaming sectors. As the weekend progressed, participants organized into nine teams that worked round-the-clock on building their business plans, validating their customer base, and evaluating their competition. The nine teams include:

  • F.I.S.T.S. –  A tool to stop check fraud on the frontlines.
  • HistoReality -  An augmented reality app that helps educators teach history in a way that is fun and engaging.
  • A Good First Step -  Allows attorneys to offer information on legal questions. Plans to offer sponsored advice for a fee.
  • MyBeeTask, financial, and inventory management for small businesses. Plan to package tools and sell lower than the competition.
  • Engage.me/QuasarEnables 2-way communication between a crowd and a presenter. Live, and more comprehensive than Twitter.
  • GroupLinkFor use at an event.  An event code will unlock the complete list of attendees and contact info that they’ve authorized for sharing.
  • Musician’s VaultA Faceboook app which allows users to meet, collaborate, and promote together with fellow musicians. 
  • Good Game NetworkOnline video game wagering platform.  Allows users to bet money, or use a point system similar to most credit card/travel loyalty programs.
  • SnagIt Deals“The Kayak.com of deal websites.”  Allows users to gather deals from several resources by use of keyword. 

8) Our Judges.

On Sunday night, as the crowd filed in to watch the pitches, the judging team was busy reviewing the criteria that would determine the teams who would take home first, second, and third place titles along with their respective prizes. Each judge was hand-picked by the Organizing team and was valued for their opinion based on their unique experiences with startups. Our judging team included Rob Bettigole of Elm Street Ventures, Mary Anne Rooke of the Angel Investor Forum, Joe Rubin of FundingPost.com, and Gary Felberbaum, who currently consults and strategizes for technology and engineering best practices. Read more about our judges by clicking here.

9) The Winners.

Our top 3 teams were:

  1.  SnagIt Deals
  2.  A Good First Step
  3. Musician’s Vault

10) Sponsors, and their generous contributions.

Despite all of the hard work of the Organizers to make the weekend happen, it wouldn’t have been possible without the support from our local sponsors. Check them out here.

Sponsors also gave prizes of legal and accounting services, and other resources that our winning teams can use as they continue to pursue their ventures.

In addition, Connecticut startup diffr3nt made a guest appearance to present one lucky team with one of their hand-made wallet iPhone cases. Founder, Mark Donne also announced the winning team for Independent Software’s ‘best prototype’ prize – a $500 ‘tech credit’ to spend on taking their startup to the next level.

11) Lasting impact.

The weekend didn’t just fly by – it zoomed by at lightning speed. Once the doors closed, Twitter continued to buzz as participants, organizers and spectators chirpped about their positive experience trading sleep and time off for the chance to be involved in growing our community.

Media Coverage:

  • New Haven Register coverage here.
  • CT Tech Junkie coverage here.
  • ConneCT coverage here.
  • Yale Daily News coverage here.
  • New Haven Independent coverage here.

12) Our plans for 2013.

After the first Startup Weekend, we walked away with lots of ideas for how to improve SW NH.  2012 was no different. We’ll be working throughout the next year to make the event even more impactful for our startup community.  Be sure to join us!

About Michael Romano

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