This article was originally published by Christoper Griffin on his blog: Christoper Griffin on Startup Thinking.
One of the great things about Startup Weekends is that while they have a well-developed workflow (rapid idea creation coupled with lean, fast product iteration) and outcome (nascent startups), each event takes on its own additional flavor based on a number of contributing factors: location (city), location (within a city), event theme, people, and judges/speakers/mentors.
This past Friday in Seattle, I participated in the education-themed Startup Weekend, “Seattle EDU.” Organized by Startup Weekend and TeachStreet, everything from the location (the University of Washington’s gorgeous Paccar Hall)–to the speakers (Vinod Khosla, Mitch Kapor, and Seattle’s own Jason Stoffer from Maveron)–to the projects, focused on identifying problems across the educational spectrum and building (and successfully pitching) solutions that sought to solve them.
The theme “Education” can get pretty broad pretty quickly. I saw a range of compelling projects: math games, collaboration tools, user-friendly archiving for students’ art, matching apps to find study partners, workflow management for mentors—I was really surprised by the sheer number of projects that were able to get off the ground over the 54-hour sprint. Check out the list here.
As a mentor, I worked primarily with two teams over the weekend: 1001 Mentors and Text2Teach. Lewis Lin and the 1001 Mentors team had 1001 great ideas for increasing the efficiency and value of the mentorship process and did a great job of winnowing down their big idea to a core set of key features and benefits to mentors and mentees. Text2Teach’s Joey Kotkins and Brewster Stanislaw built a strong set of business and funding responses in advance of the Q&A from event judges Stoffer, Kapor, Michael Arrington, Greg Long, and Dale Stephens.
At the end of the day, Text2Teach was selected as Startup Weekend’s “Seattle EDU” Winner, bolstered by a strong storyline from teacher Jamie Burns and Amy Lin and a solid product start via Twilio by Ash, Evan, and the rest of a killer technical team. Huge thanks to both 1001Mentors and Text2Teach for letting me join the fun and conversations around two great ideas.
It was fantastic to catch up with some great people I hadn’t seen in a while, and also to meet a whole new group of people I hope to see more often. And most important, it was amazing to watch people come together, hash out a goal and a plan, and then execute on it within some pretty severe constraints. I’ve been asked to mentor another Startup Weekend here in Seattle in November, but at the moment I’m starting to lean toward joining a team or pitching my next great, stupendous, world-changing-but-can-also-be-built-in-54-hours idea. I’ll tell you this: there are a ton of great ideas out there, and it’s awesome to watch developers, designers, and business minds come together to turn them into something real. Sign up for the next Seattle event here, and maybe I’ll see you there!
Huge thanks to every one of the event sponsors, and to Dave Schappell, Joey Aquino, and the kickass TeachStreet crew, and of course to Marc Nager, Khalid Smith, Adam Stelle, Zach Cohn, and the rest of the awesome Startup Weekend team.