The name of the team had the judges of Women’s Startup Weekend chuckling before they even heard the pitch. Team “How the F”, lead by Hannah Savoy, took first place out of the four presentations at North Dakota Women’s Startup Weekend with their idea to create a content site, designed around teaching people “How the F” to do basic life skills.
Savoy is currently the marketing manager at local e-commerce startup dogIDs and a graduate of Minnesota State University. As a college student, Savoy began to realize a rather terrifying fact; “I don’t have all the things I need in life to survive,” she said.
When she couldn’t figure out how to do something, her go-to response was to call her parents. Things like how to check tire pressure, how to file taxes, or, a special life hack, how to iron with a straightener.
“After I’d ask them a question you’d hear that sigh,” Savoy said, of her many calls with the parents. “It was like – oh, I should have known how to do this, shouldn’t I.”
Thinking on those all-too-familiar moments gave Savoy the inspiration to take the stage on pitch night, April 22, at the kick-off of North Dakota Women’s Startup Weekend. Her idea was to create a content site with a similar feel to Buzzfeed; articles and video teaching basic how-to skills with a humorous voice and a healthy dose of snark.
“The snark makes it fun,” Savoy said. “You want to have the tone that says, you should already know how to do this, but since you don’t, here’s how you do it.”
At first, she said, they were targeting twenty-somethings. But as they went through their validation process, they found something shocking.
“Turns out people don’t know how to do things, just in general,” Savoy said at the final presentation.
In addition, a teammate in her thirties expressed how annoyed many of her friends are with the marketing technique around the idea of ‘adulting’ and the movement around focusing on twenty-somethings. So the team moved from a distinct twenty-something approach to a demographic of all ages.
Video, she said, will their main source of content. Like the popular Tasty videos that teach a recipe in usually under a minute, Savoy plans to make each “How the F” video 30 seconds or less.
“Video right now, is the key way to connect and the key way to get your content shared,” she said.”And if I’m learning to check tire pressure and the video is seven minutes, I’m not going to watch it.”
The team’s videographer, Evan Balko, created an example video teaching how to check tire pressure, which they showed during their final pitch. Savoy said she thinks this was the clincher to them taking first place.
Their business model is still on the cutting board, but they will start by testing out selling ads, company sponsorship, and swag such as “How the F” mugs, shirts, and keychains that drop the F-bomb whenever someone is having a bad day. Moving forward, they plan to start selling swag first and hopefully raise enough funds to have a financial base, Savoy said.
This was Savoy’s first time participating in a Startup Weekend. She signed up with coworkers Keely O’Regan and Kayla Duffney at the encouragement of her boss at dogIDs, Clint Howitz. When Friday morning rolled around, the three went into “freak out mode,” Savoy said.
“We had no idea what to expect,” she said. “It was walking into the unknown.”
But then, Friday night’s speaker, Edie Ramstad, gave her talk. This entrepreneur and mother of 18 shared how she started over 65 different companies and got her kids through college with the funds. She spoke of her success in Ada, MN with Weave Got Maille, a chainmaille manufacturing company that has now supplied to TV shows like Game of Thrones and did all the costuming for A Knight’s Tale and other films. She talked about the power of the woman entrepreneur, and how important it is for women to step up and share what they can do with the world.
“That really set the tone,” Savoy said. “It showed us what we can do. That it doesn’t have to be a huge idea, it can be something small, and you can turn it into a whole company.”
The Startup Weekend experience, Savoy said, was one she recommends to everyone.
“You don’t know what you can accomplish until you sit down and do this weekend,” she said. “It opens your eyes.”
Savoy and her team, “How the F” will be presenting at 1 Million Cups on May 18, 2016. Come and hear their story at 9:15 AM – 10:15 AM at the Stage at Island Park.
Team “How the F” is made up of Hannah Savoy, Keely O’Regan, Kayla Duffney, Brittany Butler and Susan Nelson.