Tech startup competition reinvigorates computer science senior

Contributed by  on Dec 8, 2014 for InnerCircle, Arizona State University Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering

ASU computer science student Taylor Meeks was part of team that won the top award in a recent business startup competition.

Taylor Meeks was on a winning team in the recent Phoenix Global Startup Battle.
Taylor Meeks was on a winning team in the recent Phoenix Global Startup Battle.

Startup Weekend: Phoenix Global Startup Battle, hosted by Seed Spot,  a local nonprofit business incubator that aids social entrepreneurs, attracted more than 50 people looking to learn more about how to develop their ideas for tech-based ventures.

Many of the attendees pitched their proposals for startups and 10 were chosen to compete in the startup battle.

Meeks and two others joined software engineer Mark Tucker, one of the successful pitch makers, to work on a venture called FunCast. Its product is a party trivia game called Boast, played with an iPad or other tablet devices, with game information displayed on a TV screen using Chromecast, a digital media player.

Teams had about 55 hours to put together a business model, a tech demo and gather some customer-validation data for their products.

“It surprised me how much we accomplished in just a weekend. We created a business model and a working demo of our game in a very short amount of time,” Meeks said.

A panel of local startup founders selected three winning teams. Meeks’ team placed first and was awarded six months of free office space at Desarrollo, a tech startup incubator center in Tempe. The group will soon begin work on the next phase of development for FunCast, Meeks said.

The businessperson who is Meeks’ sponsor for his senior capstone design project had suggested Meeks participate in Startup Weekend to gain business experience.

He notes that only a handful of other ASU students attended the Startup Weekend in downtown Phoenix.

image2-300x225“I was reinvigorated by it. It was cool to be around other passionate entrepreneurial people,” he said. “It would be great for more ASU students to participate.”

Another Phoenix Startup Week is planned for early 2015.

Meeks expects to receive his bachelor’s degree in the spring after completing studies in the computer science program in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering.

Global Startup Weekend brings out Phoenix's top bananas – AZ Tech Beat

Contributed by AZTechBeat, Alyssa Lee



This past weekend, some of the Valley’s brightest developers, designers and thinkers descended upon downtown to hash out an innovative startup idea all within 54 hours at the Phoenix Global Startup Battle. After pulling all-nighters that could only resemble college students during finals week, 10 teams presented their ventures to the public and a panel of successful entrepreneurs for feedback, banana trophies and other prizes.

The top prizes went to:

 From left to right: FunCast developers Al Wold, Shawn Capehart, Mark Tucker and Taylor Meeks.
From left to right: FunCast developers Al Wold, Shawn Capehart, Mark Tucker and Taylor Meeks.

FunCast – a gaming venture that has plans to roll out its party trivia game, Boast.

“I came into this startup weekend already with the idea of party games that you can do on your tablet and on your TV in the family room,” FunCast developer Mark Tucker said.

Boast, which gives players the ability to boast about what they know in a trivia format, is expected to be hosted on Chrome’s app store once the FunCast team finishes the development of the game.

Drive Away – a website that connects car buyers with dealerships across the country and lets them submit a bid on their desired vehicle.

Prodygy – a collaboration platform with a rich library of project-based learning resources to accelerate STEM education.

The prizes these teams could choose from included a 6-month membership at team coworking space Desarrollo, a scholarship to Seed Spot’s evening program and $500 to spend on a conference or coworking space.

Other ideas that came out of the weekend battle include:

KidFriendly –  an app that identifies kid-friendly restaurants in the area for parents

Team Quirk'd
Team Quirk’d

Quirk’d – a dating app that puts people’s quirks first to get rid of the superficial front of online dating

Munky See – a solution that tracks the quality of content you consume and your long-term goals of online content consumption

Simple Demand – a website that identifies time or shift-specific deals

TalkShop – a Craigslist-like platform that connects teachers with speakers to make educational content relevant to students

PerfecFit – a website that finds clothes that fit you best based on your measurements and specific needs

GOIQ – a service that identifies what does and doesn’t work about the marketing efforts of small businesses



Adam Mann: Last minute sign up for Startup Weekend was Life Changing

Spotlight contributor: Aaron Bare


Adam Mann is a design consultant with a simple focus: to provide clean and functional designs while supporting local business and developing lasting relationships.

What inspired you to go to Startup Weekend?adam
I attended Startup Weekend on a whim. I did not know what Startup Weekend was and only a couple days before the event a friend of mind had told me about it and asked if I would like to join. I had no idea what to expect, but my friend said it would be a good time, and a few hours later I had my ticket.

How was your experience?
My experience was life changing – not to be dramatic, but it truly was. That weekend opened my eyes to new areas of design I didn’t know existed. It has lead to some great friendships, and plenty of opportunities for new work as well.

What was the outcome of the weekend for you?
The outcome was a weekend I’ll never forget. I had no plans of pitching that weekend (I didn’t even know I could when I got my ticket), but during a last call for pitches I ran up on stage with an idea. The idea was selected and our team kicked ass and took 2nd place, winning a handful of great prizes, and more importantly we walked away with some amazing friendships and connections.

Where are you at today with Find My Train?find_my_train
Find My Train continues to grow with over 3000 users for the Phoenix Light Rail to date, and growing steadily. We have plans to introduce Find My Train as a smartwatch application for the Apple Watch early next year. You can view an early prototype here:

Do you speak to your fellow members from that weekend?
We had an amazing team for SW, and I still consistently talk to each member two years later. Just two months ago I visited one team member that moved to LA. I am also currently working on two different projects with the two other team members from SW.

Why should someone go to Startup Weekend?
Go for the experience. It’s unlike any other event I’ve been to. The people, the energy, the ideas. It’s great to immerse yourself in a project with such a time crunch with people you likely have never met. You will surprise yourself at what you can accomplish in such a quick time frame.

Join us for Startup Weekend GSB 2014 to meet a group of people like Caleb and find your company.  Only a few spots still available.

Spotlight on Caleb Barclay: Designer, Founder and SWPHX Alum

Spotlight contributor: Aaron Bare

What inspired you to go to Startup Weekend?unnamed
I wanted to connect with developers that I didn’t have in my own network.  The goal being to work on future software startups together.

How was your experience?
We sat in a corner and cranked away though the day and night to go from an initial idea to a functioning prototype.  We pulled together other groups when we made a marketing video for the product but besides that, we really stayed focus on the goal. Our product was a gaming app meant to help novice beer and wine drinkers become experts. We called it Wannabe Wino.

What was the outcome of the weekend for you?
After the weekend, we went on to polish the app and eventually submitted it to the app store.  I walked away with a good understanding of how little time it takes to take an idea and bring it to life.

Where you at today with Wannabe Wino?
It’s live in the app store but we are not working on it.  We probably should since we spent so much time on it.  I’ve learned a lot about what worked with it and what didn’t work.  It has influenced me to think in new ways on future products.  App can be found here:

Do you speak to you fellow members from that weekend?
Every once in a while I will talk to the developers that worked with me on the project but we are mostly doing our own projects right now.  Hopefully, we can work on something in the future.

Why should someone go to Startup Weekend?
Startup weekend is a great place to find talent, understand product development, meet like-minded people, and compete for a prize.  It’s a good place to learn to sell people on your idea and then further go on to learn team working through the process of high anxiety and little sleep.
What are you up to now?
I’m currently building a software called Splicity and we are releasing a public version in the next few months.  We’ve had traction with some brands that are going to be implementing our software in their upcoming social media campaigns.

Join us for Startup Weekend GSB 2014 to meet a group of people like Caleb and find your company.  Only a few spots still available.