Guest contributor, Zach Lipp, is a student at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Zach recently visited Bangalore, India as part of his program at the Offutt School of Business and shares part of his experience in this post.
Startup Weekend recently conducted Global Startup Battle, which incorporates hundreds of independently organized events occurring around the world. Six students representing Concordia College’s Offutt School of Business competed in Startup Weekend Bangalore, including the author. Held in a new Microsoft Research Lab, this event included aspiring entrepreneurs from around the country. The students’ attendance fees were sponsored by the Offutt School as a part of the new Global Business in India program.
Startup Weekend Bangalore was mobile themed, meaning each student spent the weekend helping develop a mobile app to compete for some impressive prizes. All students registered as “Non-Technicals,” or nonprogrammers, alongside “Developers” and “Designers.” This presented challenges, as “Non-Technicals” are often an afterthought in app development. Most students, myself included, struggled to contribute while developers and designers coded the apps. Nevertheless, our group saw successes.
Of the six students, two pitched their own apps. Both of these ideas had enough support from attendees that the students formed teams around their ideas. Concordia senior Matt Gantz and Gustavus Aldolphus junior Steve Moertel led these teams through 54 hours of development. Gantz’s pitch, “Social Impact App,” proposed simplifying how nonprofits and volunteers connect and garnered the most votes of any pitch of the weekend. Moertel’s “Be Prepared” app, channeling his experiences as an Eagle Scout abroad, also received enough support to form a team.
Moertel formed and led a team of Indian participants to develop a business called beprepared, and while his app did not place, he valued this experience. As a management student, he realized “this was a tremendous opportunity to have experience in a unique environment.” Before this state of mind, his experience was “much more negative.” On the whole, Moertel notes, “If it were not my idea being carried out I feel like I wouldn’t have the same experience.” Judges awarded Gantz’s app, now called volunteerconnect.co, second place.
The winning business, an app and services called coTrain, enables the connecting of people looking for sports partners or workout buddies. Two first-time Startup Weekend participants, Concordia sophomore Derek Algaard and Gustavus Adolphus senior Francois Tompkins, were members of the coTrain team.”As a first timer, I enjoyed the overall experience at Startup Weekend mostly because of the opportunity to network with others,” says Tompkins. ” It was shocking to be a part of the wining team, but it made sense given the amount of talent…we had on our team.” Algaard notes he “cannot take any credit whatsoever for actually placing in the competition. All I helped do was…child’s play when it comes to this type of work.” Nevertheless, Algaard “felt really good to be a part of the team that did put in enough effort to take first place.”
Even those who didn’t place learned from the experience. “Watching groups of people turn an idea into something real in a matter of days was inspiring,” says Jacob Olson, Concordia senior and first time Startup Weekend participant. Startup Weekend Bangalore reminded him that “to have some kind of legacy, something to point at and say, ‘I did that,’ I have to start making things instead of just sitting idly by and waiting for life to happen.”