Three Startup Weekend Ideas, Built in 54 Hours

– a collaborative post by Dale Fairclough, Christopher Girdwood, and Tom Beckett

Ready to pitch your revolutionary idea this weekend? Get your tickets now! (Click Here)

Here are three ideas our organizers worked on during a previous Startup Weekend:


Taste Buds:

Taste Buds was launched at Startup Weekend Garden Grove 2015 and the team that created it took home second place that weekend. The idea was a brilliant combination of Tinder and food; an idea that the whole crowd, including the judges, could get behind.

The basic premise was that finding people to try a new restaurant with can be difficult. Friends can be busy or uninterested in the newest restaurants in town, but who wants to go out and eat alone? Taste buds was built to solve this problem by connecting people with similar food interests and allowing them to delight in the exquisite fare of their local town, or a place they were looking to visit.

The team did an amazing job of putting together a professional video and getting a prototype in front of the judges. The presentation was well polished and they provided exactly the content they needed to, finishing just as the five minute mark was hit. A well-deserved second place finish.

1,000 True Fans:

The 60 Second Pitch: “In the connected world we live in today where people can easily communicate with others that share very focused niche interests, someone talented enough at what they do could find 1000 people somewhere in the world that would be willing to pay them to continue to share their skill.”

A lifestyle Kickstarter… Crowdfunding for content providers… (We never quite found the perfect analogy to tote around, like the Uber of Dating.) In other words, you would pay someone a small monthly subscription so that they could continue to make cool content that you really like. As a result, you would be helping support this content producer (ex. Musician, Artist, Gamer, etc.) by allowing them to focus more on their craft and potentially quit their day job, all so that they could spend more time to become even better at what they do! In turn, you would get direct and early access to any new content (ex. New songs, videos, write-ups, etc.) and other exclusive perks. Think about it: Do you know a gifted musician-friend (or artist) who is so talented that they could “make it big” one day, but currently they hold down a standard nine to five to pay the bills? With more time to devote to their passion, could they one day become famous for what they currently do with their spare time?

The team consisted of the guy who pitched the idea, three French tourists, someone who was literally graduating from their coding program that Sunday, and another developer who just wanted to work with a random group of people. 1000 True Fans ultimately earned Honorable Mention and a crazy, informative, and fun experience.


Leaky Faucet:

The idea is simple. Build social capital in neighborhoods around the country (or world) by asking neighbors to fix small household problems like a leaky faucet for a small fee. For example, you would call the “Smith Family” down the street if your cat was stuck in a tree instead of calling the local Fire Department.

This mobile app would allow residents in a community to post household projects for other app users to bid on.  When the project is reviewed and the bid is accepted, the two neighbors would exchange contact info and the job would be completed. The mobile app would collect a small service fee on each transaction.

Leaky Faucet did not place in the top three for a few reasons stated by the judges. The primary concern was the question of who (if anyone) would cover liability and insurance for certain projects that might cause injury. Another concern was, if your neighbor was hired and did a poor job, would you really want to give them a lower rating? At the end of the day, you’re still going to be neighbors.

What idea will you validate in a short weekend? Build it at the Santa Clarita Startup Weekend this weekend (Friday November 13 – 15)! Get your tickets at .


We laughed, we cried, we coded, and we won!

Michael LaRue and his team were the first place winners of the 2012 Santa Clarita Valley Startup Weekend. I sat down with him to get his perspective on the event and to find out where he is at with his startup, Zejoop, which was launched in a whopping 54 hours and continues to grow today!


Some background info on Michael and his expectations for attending Startup Weekend:

Michael is a former aerospace engineer with a long career in defense, working on programs such as the Space Shuttle, the B-2 Bomber, the Global Hawk UAV testbed, and numerous national security satellite programs. He attended the event because he wanted to try his hand at project management and to see if a fledgling idea he had could actually come to life in the form of a startup! At this time Michael was navigating through a career transition from defense contracting to tech, and in reflecting on this period, Michael said “My future in tech started on that weekend in November 2012; it’s an unfinished story – we’ll see how it turns out.”

Zejoop before Startup Weekend:

Michael came to the event wanting to work with several developer friends and so they met up just before the weekend to plan how they would present two potential startup ideas. While Zejoop in its infancy was the second choice idea, the team agreed that Zejoop likely had more appeal as a better business case and Michael became excited to see it evaluated. In regards to exploring this idea at a Startup Weekend, Michael noted, “I can’t think of a better way to vet an idea and determine if it is worth pursuing.” In the spirit of lightning-speed startup pivots, Zejoop changed its identity from its original name, “Muster”, just two hours before the demonstration to the judges.

Learnings from the weekend event:

– Establish and promote a winning vision, and project confidence
– Have, and express, confidence in your team – let them do what they do best and don’t micromanage
– Don’t panic – there will be dicey times, but with capable people and dedication, obstacles will be overcome

On exiting Startup Weekend and joining the real world of startups:

“It is important to note that despite the excitement and satisfaction of winning a Startup Weekend competition, it is no easy task, nor is it a given that a team will stay together to execute into the future. People enter the event for different reasons, and because of reality and other commitments not everyone is guaranteed to have the availability, interest or desire to carry on as a fledgling startup.” Mentioned earlier, Michael was looking for a new full-time commitment and Zejoop was the perfect new pursuit.

By winning the event, Michael and his team were invited to sit down with Clearstone Venture Partners a month afterwards to demonstrate Zejoop and get an expert evaluation as well as feedback from Jim Armstrong, an accomplished player in the field of venture capital.

Prior to the event Michael had never delivered a single line of code for anything outside of his undergraduate programming classes. Since that weekend, he has learned the skills to become a full stack developer. Additionally, Michael has enjoyed promoting the app as well as performing market research (read more about these experiences on the Zejoop blog post: ). Additionally, Michael obtained a provisional patent for Zejoop this year!


Where is Zejoop today? Where is Zejoop headed?

Zejoop is now currently deployed as a fully functional public beta at It recently received a landing page makeover which is now fully responsive and presents well from desktop to mobile, and all points between. Poised for user growth, Michael will soon shop again for investment, this time with a real pitch deck and “ask”. For the last three years the startup has been purely bootstrapped.

Recommendations for future participants:

– “Pay attention to what the coaches say as you have an opportunity to interact with them over the course of the weekend – we were lucky to have great coaches – I did not get one scrap of ‘bad advice’ from any of them, and if you think you know better than the coaches, there is a good chance you are wrong.”

– “Make sure that your startup leader is comfortable with the numbers and can convincingly make the case for monetization in articulating a preliminary business plan – after all, a startup is a business proposition – tech alone won’t win.”

– “Try your best to field a working, deployed, live demo – the weekend is a test to execute both technically, and business-wise – if you can’t demo your project then you will be operating at a deficit during the final judging. Don’t worry though, today’s modern tools make this goal well within reach.”

– “Approach the final pitch as if it is a dynamic storytelling occasion or skit, rather than as a static informational presentation.”

To conclude, Michael said “… let me encourage you to enter the event and have fun. I certainly did, and to exemplify it I’ll share how I summarize it in one sentence: We laughed, we cried, we coded, and we won! Claim the same at the conclusion of the second Santa Clarita Startup Weekend event this November 13 – 15; good luck!”

Start using Zejoop for your casual event planning needs. Learn more by visiting .

SCV Startup Weekend: Then and Now

[written by Erick Arndt]

Startup Weekend coming back to Santa Clarita is exciting news for all of us. It’s good for the startup community and good for Santa Clarita. In the Fall of 2012, Startup Weekend came to Santa Clarita for the first time and it was a MONSTER success. Not only was the city buzzing with excitement watching through the glass on Town Center Drive as “people in blue shirts” feverishly worked on their business idea but that weekend seven new businesses were launched. Don’t believe a business can be successfully launched in 54 hours?…you’ve never been to Startup Weekend.

photo courtesy of SCV Startup Weekend 2012 organizing team.

Lots of people talk about building a startup but honestly, few do. Startups are about “execution” not “talk”. And Startup Weekend is all about execution. You have just 54 hours to see which team can take their business the farthest. That’s right, from Friday night pitches to Sunday night demos.

I feel so fortunate to have worked with Brian Tippy and Eric Hayes to plan Startup Weekend 1. Those planning meetings were so much fun but at the same time we all felt a bit uneasy and not 100% sure we could pull off this event. At the time, Santa Clarita wasn’t exactly known for startup activity. An event of this nature had never been hosted before and SCV Startup (the startup community) was really just getting started. Where would we have this event? Would there be enough space? If we built it, would people come?

After getting approval from Startup Weekend to host the event (yes, we had to get approved and with not much to show them) we struggled to find the right venue. Then, out of nowhere, we got our first big win. In the spirit of this incredible city we live in, the great people at Westfield Mall donated a storefront for the entire weekend. What better venue for Startup Weekend than a vacant bikini shop at the entrance of one of the busiest malls in Southern California. We were destined to succeed. The potential was limitless!

Startup Weekend is such an amazing event and here are the three key reasons you don’t want to miss this one:

  1. Meeting new people – What better way to forge a bond with a bunch of strangers than working side by side for 54 hours in an 80-degree room scrambling to create an MVP (minimum viable product) and find customers to validate your business. Not only did I make a lot of friends but I met my co-founder, Eric, and we began working on TripRocker soon after the event. Don’t worry, this event promises to have air-conditioning this time around…
  2. Learning – I can’t tell you how many people told me during and after the event how much they “thought” they new about launching a company when they signed on to the event. They had read books, watched “Shark Tank, and had business degrees but once the madness began they scrambled to find answers.  Like Mike Tyson said “Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face.”  By Saturday morning they realized how much they still needed to learn by the Sunday Night Pitch Event. So if you really want to shock your brain, clear out some cobwebs, and accelerate your learning try taking a company from idea to paying customer in 2 days.
  3. It’s an accomplishment – Yes, it’s tough and yes, some might want to quit but on Sunday night the sense of accomplishment I saw on people’s faces at the awesome after-party made all the work and sweat (and boy did we sweat) worth it. Imagine going to work on Monday and being asked “So what did YOU do this weekend?”

I am so proud of this new Startup Weekend leadership team (Tom, Chris, and Dale) and their incredible vision to make this event bigger and better and more exciting than the first one. I see this team not only hosting an epic event but being part of the future leadership of this great city. I encourage everyone to take part in Startup Weekend 2. And I really hope the area’s colleges will be sending their “Best and Brightest” to compete for the top spot. See you at the event!

Get your ticket and learn more here:

Interested in being a sponsor? Want to help the organizing team? Email them at

A Startup Weekend Guide For Code Poets

How in the world am I going to write an app in 54 hours when my current one has taken 7 months?

This was the question I was asking myself in the days leading up to Startup Weekend Garden Grove, my first event of the kind. I knew I wanted to go and I was excited about all the people I was going to meet, but being relatively new to the field of iOS meant I was nervous about being able to deliver what my team expected of me in such a short time period.

What if my team wants to build a music platform that splits songs and combines them into instant auditory perfection! I just mastered creating tables!


The group I worked with wanted to build a platform for people to receive help with household tasks without having to pay an arm and a leg for something simple a neighbor could do. Our goal was to help people with leaky sinks and little plumbing knowledge. My mind was racing while my teammates spit out feature after feature, and I didn’t want to burst anyone’s bubble with an interjection of, “I really have no clue how do that.” I wanted to provide the things my team wanted but I knew we had to be realistic.

Luckily for me, and anyone who is interested in attending as a developer, my fears were instantly assuaged the moment we started talking about the build. While the app we wanted to make wasn’t simple, we all realized that we just needed a prototype.


We had to dazzle the judges with our idea and mock out the features of our app just enough to show that it was viable and workable. In order to do this, I ended up using an application called Invision. It is free to download and use, and its an easy way to create a fake app with buttons and transitions out of nothing but a Photoshop image. Ironically, because of this choose I ended up not writing a single line of code that weekend and instead learned how to use our mock up software and Photoshop.

However, not all developers had the same experience that weekend. Many teams opted to create working iOS or web applications, and they were able to show off a little more of their developer know how. To be honest,  the teams that chose to do that produced very buggy software, but the awesome thing was that nobody cared. We all knew the pressure we were under and the judges didn’t decry a team because something wasn’t perfect or beautiful. The main thing is to be able to show that something is possible or create one main feature that you can show off for the event.

For my next Startup Weekend, I want to go the code approach. It was fun to learn Invision and approach our app from the design perspective. However, now that have bested my fears of screwing up the team, I want to see how far I can take an app in a weekend. I know all the developers I talked to had a blast learning how to code under pressure or showing off the fact that they could do it well. The biggest thing I learned from the event was that no matter your experience as a developer, designer or non-technical, you will get a lot out of committing the time to your weekend startup!

Dale Fairclough
Santa Clarita Startup Weekend Organizer and iOS Developer

Community Goals for the 2015 Santa Clarita Startup Weekend

In our first organizing meeting, the team sat down and articulated why we wanted to put this whole thing together. Here is what we each had to say:


When I first heard Tom’s impassioned pitch for bringing startup weekend to Santa Clarita, I knew I wanted to be a part of the team. As an iOS developer, I know how hard it can be to organically meet people in your day-to-day life who share the same skills and interests as you. I was excited by the idea of bringing enthusiastic people fueled by a passion for creation and entrepreneurial drive under one roof and setting them loose on new ideas. I wanted to see what Santa Clarita could do. In a town with so much development and talent, I hope this startup weekend provides a platform for uniting people with co-founders, new friends and interesting conversation. I hope what we build in November extends beyond the action-packed weekend and helps to embolden a real startup community here in SCV. Help us build another SiliCon Valley!


Aspiring restaurateurs count foot traffic as an indicator of potential sales in any given location. Logistics firms try to locate where two or three large freeways should meet for ease of access. Geography plays a vital role for some sectors of the economy, but not all.

Tech start-ups can be built, launched, and even run out of a garage (talk to Tom about it). Transacting business online requires a solid idea, a fast connection to the internet, good customer service, and that is about it. The 2015 Santa Clarita Startup Weekend encourages all entrepreneurs, no matter geographic considerations, to take part in building a business in just over 48 hours.


Last December I returned back to my hometown of Santa Clarita after wrapping up my first business venture just out of college. I began researching what the startup and small business scene was presently like in the valley. After all, five years had passed since I had first left for university and I was aware of several entrepreneurial developments that had occurred in the previous year. For example, I was  informed of the recent launch of the city’s incubator program last fall because my team had strongly considered relocating and applying for residency in it. I also knew College of the Canyons had grown substantially over the last several years and I was introduced to college’s Economic Development Corporation and Small Business Development Center, the latter of which I was able to utilize a bit for my own business. It’s also worth noting that this is how I came to meet Chris Girdwood. Now as a resident once again, I wanted to dive deeper and find more.

Soon after, I found Erick Arndt’s monthly SCV Startup Meetings and attended my first demo night in February. I began to notice that there actually was a presence of entrepreneurship here, but I felt that all of these organizations were each promoting it independently. While making gains on their own, I began thinking of ways to pull these entrepreneurial bodies closer together to create a more potent and useful core for entrepreneurship.

It took some research and word of mouth to discover the resources Santa Clarita currently has to offer the entrepreneur. My goal in bringing startup weekend (back) to Santa Clarita is to showcase the tools, resources, and scrappy self-starters this town already has. Come join us for an extremely interactive weekend where you will network with smart people, eat good food, learn new things, and have a great time!

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Startup Weekend – Open for Business in the SCV!

College of the Canytons University Center

Startup Weekend Santa Clarita
November 13th, 2015

At what point does a startup company traverse the valley of death and proudly wear the banner “open for business”? Is it when the website is built? Is it when the first customer walks through the door? Or is it when the first financial transaction is settled?

I would say the latter of the three. Money is earned and money is spent. And I think it’s the spending part of that two-way transaction that keeps entrepreneurs innovating to finally sell their product.

The Santa Clarita Valley is a place where innovation happens. I know first-hand because it’s what I do for a living. I serve as the Business Communication and Outreach Manager for the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. I visit with SCV businesses regularly. I have walked the halls of 800 employee aerospace companies and sat with startups at the City’s Business Incubator.

I am excited to team up with Tom and Dale for Santa Clarita Startup Weekend. On November 13-15, 2015 we will see innovation unfold at the College of the Canyons University Center. We look forward to seeing you then!

Christopher Girdwood
Startup Weekend Santa Clarita Organizer

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