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It may seem intimidating to try and start a company in 54 hours – coming up with a business model, validating it with customers, designing a prototype, and all the while, making sure you don’t lose sight of your social mission. Exciting, nerve-racking, incredible – that’s what Startup Weekend is all about. With 75 participants forming nine teams to do social good, it’s no wonder we had some pretty amazing ideas come out of the weekend.

Meet our winning teams of Startup Weekend DC Social Impact 2016!

1st Place and People’s Choice: FitPet

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1st Place Prizes

  • Free entrance to two of OpenIDEO DC’s Human Centered Design Workshops
  • Invitation to a dinner salon hosted by DC+Acumen
  • One month of free membership at WeWork
  • Breather Ultimate Off-Site Package which includes six hours in a Breather space and a catered lunch and ride for up to five guests
  • One free catered meal from A Taste of Heaven Catering
  • Jen Dalton’s book, The Intentional Entrepreneur

Not only did this team take first place, but they ended up winning the popular vote by a pretty significant margin. The idea: an app and wearable line dedicated to helping children build healthier lifestyles through virtual pets. When I sat down with the first place winners, one thing was clear, they had each other’s back.

When Mikael Davis first pitched the idea on opening night, it was an obvious favorite, but he admits he couldn’t have done it without his team. “Hearing everyone’s ideas and working with these guys, we were really able to expand and expound on the possibilities. My personal areas of weakness – everyone else was able to give me feedback in a way that I wouldn’t have thought of.”

Turns out their teamwork paid off. The judges valued their product’s ability to tackle childhood obesity, a major issue in the U.S., and they fell in love with the app’s virtual pet, Leo the Lion. In fact, design was an important element of the product. “Seeing the designs, seeing the direction we were going – when I saw the character, I was like this is awesome! Leslie was able to develop exactly what I was thinking,” said Mikael of the team’s designer.

So what’s next for the group? They like the idea of continuing to build the business. Davis hopes to continue to learn more about entrepreneurship in order to effectively harness the team’s energy. He encourages others thinking about attending a Startup Weekend to just “do it!” After all, you never know what might come of it.

2nd Place: The tAWK

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2nd Place Prizes

  • Free entrance to one of OpenIDEO DC’s Human Centered Design Workshops
  • Invitation to a dinner salon hosted by DC+Acumen
  • 25% discount off a first month’s membership at WeWork
  • Jen Dalton’s book, The Intentional Entrepreneur

One of the bolder ideas pitched to the audience Friday night ended up claiming second place. The tAWK hopes to create a safe environment where teens can learn about sex and relationships. They faced the unique challenge of having to “validate a product that wasn’t necessarily easy or ethical to talk to their users about.” Needless to say, they got very comfortable talking about the topic.

Aude Broos, who originally pitched the idea, commended her team who “were really comfortable with the ambiguity of the idea and were willing to get their hands dirty and figure it out.” For her, Startup Weekend allowed her to go from “0 to 60 and actually pressure test a business model.” It was the first time any of them actually went out and talked to their users, and they certainly weren’t shy about it. “We had a fun time going to Howard University, asking people to sit down with us for ten minutes and talk about sex.” Although initially met with laughter, people actually opened up pretty quickly.

The team’s favorite part about the weekend though – working alongside people who care about social good. “Knowing that so many people care about social impact and building a business around that is a cool benefit. When you’re trying to address a social problem, you already have the mentality you need to innovate. You’re already focused on the user.”

Their advice to someone who hasn’t participated in a Startup Weekend event: “come with an open mind and see where you end up. Feel comfortable being creative with what you bring to the table and feel comfortable failing. It’s ok if things crash and burn.”

So what is the team’s next step? They’re going to decompress from the weekend, grab a beer, and then they’ll figure out where they’ll go next.

3rd Place: Ignite A Mind

ignite a mind

3rd Place Prizes

  • Invitation to a dinner salon hosted by DC+Acumen
  • 25% discount off a first month’s membership at WeWork
  • Jen Dalton’s book, The Intentional Entrepreneur

How many old phones and tablets do you have lying around your house? Our third place winner, Ignite A Mind, plans to put your unused technology to work. Their company provides recycled tablets, preloaded with educational materials, to rural villages for offline learning. The judges particularly loved their big vision and the expansive reach of their service.

Honorable Mention: Kibuyu

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Honorable Mention: BOGOS

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Honorable Mention Prizes

  • Invitation to a dinner salon hosted by DC+Acumen
  • Brad Feld’s book, Startup Communities

Our two honorable mentions include Kibuyu, which sought to establish group buying and shared inventory for clinics, and BOGOS, an online marketplace for social impact products.

One thing is for sure, there was no shortage of great ideas this weekend. We can’t wait to see what the next Startup Weekend brings. Stay tuned for more information on our upcoming Startup Weekend DC event happening this summer. We hope to see you there!

 

Lindsey Goetschius