TaxSmack Takes the SWLex 2016 Title!



All the teams that competed this weekend did an excellent job; congratulations! We had skills and talents ranging from web developers to excellent public speakers and presenters! All our teams stayed fueled with food and caffeine from local sponsors such as Fazoli’s and Cup of Commonwealth. We all had lots of fun this weekend getting to know each other, sharing ideas, and participating in some friendly competition. This year, TaxSmack won first place for Startup Weekend Lex 2016 led by Paul Hamilton and Dave Gilbert!

Our top 3 teams were:

  1. TaxSmack- making it easier for 5M low-income households to claim missed tax savings
  2. Makify- a 3D printing app that can print out doodles and be mailed all over the world
  3. Whyoo- the Uber for automobile oil changes, where technicians come to you

The crowd favorites were Lannister app, a group payment app making group purchases a breeze, as well as Makify! All the teams had such impressive ideas and final pitches that our judges had a tough time deliberating the winner. There were lots of great ideas this weekend and some awesome presentations.

A few highlights from the weekend:

  • 63 attendees
  • 27 ideas pitched
  • 10 teams formed
  • 7 sponsors
  • 5 organizers
  • 4 coaches
  • 3 judges

The work from this weekend and the ideas pitched serve as an inspiration to us all that even one idea can be made a reality with a little hard work and awesome company! We are so excited to see the success of all the startups from this weekend. More information on all the teams from the weekend can be found here. A big thank you to all our sponsors, organizers, coaches, and judges. It was a great weekend!

Startup Weekend Lexington 2016 – Demo List

Startup Weekend Lexington 2016 kickoff

Here are the 10 demo teams and what they are building this weekend at Startup Weekend Lexington 2016. Teams this year are taking part in the Global Startup Weekend, with more than 15k entrepreneurs at 200+ events around the world this week. For a quick recap of the weekend so far, check out pictures on Flickr and updates on Twitter.

  1. Bluegrass Expeditions
  2. Adventure Incentives
  3. Lannister App
  4. SOS Drones
  5. Flourish
  6. WHYOO
  7. Earned Wellness
  8. Makify
  9. DeeMO
  10. TaxSmack

High School Senior Leads Team JobTrack to SW Lex Victory

Monica and Nerf from team JobTrack

Congratulations goes out to all the teams that participated in Startup Weekend Lexington 2015. We had some incredible technical achievements, including virtual-reality software and 3D-printed hardware. We ate some delicious food and stayed well-caffeinated with drinks from Ale8 and Common Grounds. And we had lots of fun, from building paper towers, to pulling all-nighters getting a prototype ready, and making new friends and potential future business partners. Following in the footsteps of SW Louisville, this year’s SW Lex event was won by a team led by Isaac Rowe (aka Nerf), a high school senior. JobTrack’s team includes Monica Leslie and Will Swinton-Ginsberg.

Our top three teams were:

  1. JobTrack – an eTranscript to connect online learners with job recruiters
  2. IntraFeed – an internal business solution for gathering employee feedback
  3. Lapper – advanced human / dog shared hydration device

These teams scored higher on the judging criteria, which included Customer Validation, Execution / Design, and Business Model. Our top 3 teams will go on to represent SW Lex in the Global Startup Battle – Champions Track. Lapper was also recognized as the community favorite team, while PikaPic received honorable mention from the judges, and VReader was highlighted for its Big Idea and technical achievement.

A few stats on this event:

  • 68 total attendees
  • 45 participants
  • 28 ideas pitched on Friday
  • 9 teams formed
  • 7 startups presented on Sunday
  • 7 sponsors
  • 6 organizers
  • 6 coaches
  • 3 judges (from 3 cities in KY)

The story of last year’s winner, FinanceU, should serve as a reminder to all our teams of what can grow out of Startup Weekend. Since SW Lex 2014, FinanceU has entered other startup pitch contests, raised over $15k on Kickstarter, and launched a fully-functional product.

Startup Weekend Lexington 2015 – Demo list

SW Lex 2015 pitches

Here are the 7 demo teams and what they are building this weekend at Startup Weekend Lexington 2015. In addition to competing for some great prizes from our sponsors, the top 3 teams from SWLex will go on to compete against teams from around the world in the Global Startup Battle – Champions Circle. For a quick recap of the weekend so far, check out pictures on Flickr and updates on Twitter.


Last week for Early-Bird tickets!

The Early Bird... (in this case, the Wandering Albatross)

So, you survived the mega-Lexington weekend of Breeder’s Cup, Halloween, and UK vs Tennessee football. You’re still getting over the delicious taste of kettle corn and other street food from the downtown festival vendors, and you’re contemplating the void between now and Thanksgiving. What will you do for these empty few weeks of November?

Come to Startup Weekend Lexington 2015, of course! This is the last week to snag early-bird tickets, so be sure to register by Friday (Nov. 6) before the price jumps from $50 to $75. This is still a steal for 7 meals and 54 hours of immersive entrepreneurship with your friends.


This message brought to you by my favorite early bird, the Wandering Albatross.

Where Are All The Women Entrepreneurs?


tl;dr – special SW Lex promo code for women!

Melissa Chipman recently wrote an excellent article on the upcoming Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame (EHoF) induction ceremony, another event happening during Global Entrepreneurship Week. After highlighting the five Kentucky entrepreneurs who will be inducted this year, she pointed out some interesting statistics about EHoF inductees: “It’s worth noting there is only one woman in the Hall of Fame — iPay Technologies’ Dana Bowers — and there are 29 men. There also is only one person of color.”

When you’re the only one of something in the room (as Melissa was the only woman at SW Lou in 2012), it can feel kind of awkward. You may ask yourself questions like, “Am I supposed to be here?” or “Am I good enough for this?”. As Melissa’s team went on to win SW Louisville in 2012, the answers to those questions became quite apparent: the Y chromosome is not the carrier of some magical entrepreneur gene. Melissa has been an outspoken champion for improving diversity of age, gender, and race in Kentucky’s startup communities ever since. With this article she highlights that while times are changing, the EHoF’s recognition of historical achievements noticeably lags behind the present.

So, how about some self-assessment on diversity in our Kentucky startup scene? If we use EHoF inductees as a dataset, we’re not as bad at diversity as local university presidents. But it does seem odd that for a state with demographics of 50.8% women, we only have 4% women in the EHoF (25% for Emerging Entrepreneurs, a more current category). Our numbers aren’t quite as far off when it comes to people of color, as Kentucky is only 12% non-white and EHoF inductees are 4% non-white (10% for Emerging Entrepreneurs). Since it takes a while to grow a large company (and to make a cultural change), we don’t expect any sudden changes in these demographic numbers for Hall of Fame inductees, but we do expect the Emerging Entrepreneurs category (showcasing success-in-progress) to more accurately reflect the diversity of Kentucky’s population.

The Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame states that, “Our mission is to raise awareness of the impact that entrepreneurship has made in the Commonwealth and encourage others to pursue similar ambitious endeavors.” I think it’s doing a good job with Part 1, showcasing that successful entrepreneurs are not all from California or New York, but are Kentuckians just like all of us. Yet for Part 2 of the mission statement, Melissa’s note reminds us that people are often more inspired by stories similar to their own. I’m more inspired by Ralph G. Anderson, a UK Engineering grad like myself, than by Mark Zuckerberg (who kinda went to Harvard for a while).

We can’t change Kentucky’s past, but we can change our future. To help do this in one small way, we’re offering a special scholarship rate to women for Startup Weekend Lexington 2015. Enter promo code women2 to save 50% off registration, and bring your crazy startup ideas, exquisite design sense, and elite hacker skills with you for the Nov. 20th – 22nd event!

FinanceU is 2nd Runner Up in Global Startup Battle

The winner of Startup Weekend Lexington 2014, FinanceU, was recently awarded 2nd runner up in the Education, Empowered track for the Global Startup Battle. With over 25,000 global participants during the weeklong November event, we couldn’t be more proud of our local teams!

Check out the UP Global blog for more information on FinanceU and all the GSB winning teams.

FinanceU, BrickScan, Contender are top 3 at Startup Weekend Lexington 2014


Teams celebrate at Startup Weekend Lexington 2014

Major congrats goes out to all six teams that participated in Startup Weekend Lexington 2014! With participants from as far away as Louisville, New York, and Eastern Europe, we enjoyed a weekend full of memorable moments. It was a tough vote for our judges, but with a focus on Validation, User Experience, and Business Model, three teams were selected to represent SW Lex in the Global Startup Battle – Champions Track:

  1. FinanceU – Build Your Own Scholarship
  2. BrickScan – Building a better Lego collection through aggregated metrics
  3. Contender – Easily connect and compete with people locally in the activities you love

Good luck to all our teams as they continue to compete in the Global Startup Battle and grow their businesses beyond this weekend.

As an example of what is possible, it was great to have Daniel Johnsen, founder of 2013 SW Lex winner Recovery Station, back as a judge this year. Daniel has continued working on Recovery Station over the past year, gaining a spot in the Velocity startup accelerator program and winning $20k from the Vogt Awards.

What will you do by this time next year? We hope you go BIG!

Startup Weekend Lexington 2014 – Demo list

Here are the 6 demo teams and what they are building this weekend at Startup Weekend Lexington 2014. In addition to competing for some great prizes from our sponsors, the top 3 teams from SWLex will go on to compete against teams from around the world in the Global Startup Battle – Champions Circle. For a quick recap of the weekend so far, check out pictures on Flickr and updates on Twitter.

* Interested in watching the pitches? Join us at 5pm on Sunday at Awesome Inc (348 E. Main St, Lexington, KY 40507)

  1. ClickEstimates
  2. Campus Post
  3. FinanceU
  4. Young Exotics
  5. Contender
  6. BrickScan

Channel your inner Terry Crews, join us at Startup Weekend Lexington

November is one of my favorite months of the year. It’s during that beautiful time when Kentucky football and basketball run together making my weekends full of winning. Speaking of weekends full of winning, Startup Weekend Lexington is this month from November 21 to 23. Startup Weekend brings together a lot of different people with the goal to launch a startup within 54 hours.

If you’ve never been to a Startup Weekend event before, then you’ve just stumbled upon the perfect blog post. If you’re a Startup Weekend veteran, skip to the last paragraph for registration information. It’s sort of like a choose your own adventure blog!

Startup Weekend kicks off on Friday night with open mic pitches to attract potential teammates to your business. Don’t be afraid to pitch something ridiculous. Last year, I channelled my inner Terry Crews and pitched a manly scented laundry detergent. The businesses with the best pitches break off into teams and the work starts there. After countless cups of coffee, your team should have a working prototype or business model to present on demo day Sunday afternoon. Sounds fun right? Most importantly, food will be provided throughout the weekend.

You’ll be getting seven meals and launching a startup all in one weekend. What more can you ask for? Startup Weekend is definitely something you don’t want to miss. Please click this link for registration information. See you on the 21st!

By Jake Tapia