Startup Weekend DC Social Impact Winners: Innovators on a Social Mission

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


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

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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


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!


What It Takes to Make A Startup Weekend Great

From finding a space to ordering food, there’s plenty that goes into organizing a weekend of startup frenzy. In preparation for our Social Impact event, which will be hosted April 22-24, we are fortunate to have the help of some awesome organizations right here in our own city! Between building a team and solidifying your business model, you might not notice, but without them, none of this would be possible.

We’re excited to share some more about them and how they are contributing to Startup Weekend DC Social Impact!


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WeWork is the platform for creators. They provide small businesses, startups, and freelancers with the workspace, community, and services they need to make a life, not just a living. With over 90 locations in 28 cities worldwide, including a recently opened space in Crystal City and a brand new location on K Street opening on May 1st.

From weekly events, personalized support, flexibility, and access to more than 50,000 other members around the world, WeWork is the perfect place to grow your business in 2016 and beyond.

We’re incredibly excited to be partnering with WeWork for our Social Impact event. All Startup Weekend DC attendees will get 5% off a first month’s membership. First round finalists will receive a 25% discount off a first month’s membership and the Social Impact first place winners will receive one month free.

WeWork is home to entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups, artists, small businesses, and even divisions of large corporations. Are you ready to call WeWork home? Check out their spaces by booking a tour at or by stopping by one of their DC locations.



Between noisy coffee shops and distracting coworkers, it can oftentimes be difficult to find a space where you can work productively. Julien Smith and Caterina Rizzi, CEO and CCO of Breather, knew there had to be a better way, and so Breather was born.

Breather is a network of beautiful, professional, and private spaces where you can work, meet or relax. The spaces are available on-demand, and can be reserved for as little or as long as you need. Breather spaces allow you to focus on what’s important – treating your team to an off-site, meeting with clients in a central location, or simply getting focused work done.

Breather began as a nearly impossible idea, and now they operate in eight cities. In 2016, Breather will be opening locations in our very own city, which is why we are so excited to partner with them for Startup Weekend DC Social Impact.

In support of Startup Weekend, Breather will be offering credits to all Social Impact attendees to try out their DC locations. In addition, they will be offering the winning team their Ultimate Off-Site Package, which includes six hours in a Breather space and a catered lunch for up to five guests. Sign up and unlock a room of your own at

Union Kitchen

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If you’ve ever attended a Startup Weekend, then you know that we take food pretty seriously, and lucky for us, so does Union Kitchen.

Union Kitchen is a food incubator providing key resources for local food companies seeking to grow their businesses. They strive to build a food system that is profitable, just, and sustainable. Through integrated services, their members can make, move, and sell their products. By providing the space for production and opportunities for sales, Union Kitchen catalyzes the growth of business, jobs, and culture.

The incubator was born when co-founders Jonas Singer and Cullen Gilchrist moved from their cafe’s small on-site kitchen to a 7,500 sq ft warehouse to increase production of their famous Blind Dog Cafe chocolate chip cookies. When they found they had too much space on their hands, they quickly realized there must be other food companies in need of production space. Union Kitchen now operates two incubator spaces in the District, as well as a grocery store featuring the products of over 100 Union Kitchen members.

We couldn’t be more thrilled to be partnering with Union Kitchen for our Social Impact event. One of their own members, A Taste of Heaven, will be catering several of the meals at our upcoming event, so be sure to bring your appetites!

We’re always looking for new partners to join us in building the entrepreneurial community in our city. If you’re interested in working with us, please reach out to us at We’d love to hear from you!

It’s not too late to attend our Startup Weekend DC Social Impact event on April 22-24 at iStrategyLabs DC. Learn to build a startup by being an entrepreneur! Get your ticket today!


Startup Weekend DC Team

Building a Stronger Startup Community

What do you get when you put an advertising agency – inventing digital and physical experiences for the world’s biggest brands, a global community – committed to solving the world’s biggest challenges, and a non-profit – changing the way the world tackles poverty into one room?

A network of individuals committed to helping aspiring entrepreneurs fulfill their dreams and inspire change globally.

Without our partners, Startup Weekend Social Impact would not be the experience that it is.

We’re excited to share their stories with you!

iStrategyLabs DC

iStrategyLabs is a true supporter of unique ideas – they’ve created campaigns for over 20 Fortune 500 companies – including live streaming games for MillerCoors and staging a hack to promote NBC Universal’s new show Mr. Robot.

Not only is their work in digital ads impressive, but so is the office where all their genius ideas come to life. We’re incredibly excited to be hosting our Startup Weekend DC Social Impact event at their space April 22-24, 2016.

Nested in the Wonder Bread Factory in Shaw, the office includes an old-school VW bus, a mock airplane fuselage, and a secret passageway. Peter Corbett, ISL’s Founder and CEO, deems it a “laboratory for invention” where ISL employees are free to create, lounge, and skateboard!

We couldn’t be more thrilled to be partnering up with iStrategyLabs DC for Startup Weekend DC Social Impact. Who knows, maybe some of their creative vibes will rub off on you!



OpenIDEO DC is an open innovation platform dedicated to solving the world’s biggest problems on a local level. As a partner of Startup Weekend DC, they will be offering our winners a free workshop opportunity. OpenIDEO embraces the power of collaboration by bringing individuals together to rethink problems and design solutions that have global impact.

The DC chapter has previously been involved in helping facilitate the National Day of Civic Hacking, where developers, civic hackers, government staff, and community organizers come together to build solutions using publicly-released data to improve their communities.

To help people gear up for the event this year, OpenIDEO DC is hosting three workshops in 2016 focused on helping people learn more about Human-Centered Design, social entrepreneurship, and facilitation techniques.

Interested in joining OpenIDEO DC on their mission to support micro business owners and entrepreneurs in underserved communities? The winners of our Social Impact event are invited to attend one of OpenIDEO’s workshops for free. The workshop will explore how to make sense of qualitative data and how to share what we learn to better serve our own community.



DC+Acumen is a volunteer-led group that seeks to inspire and empower like-minded individuals who are passionate about Acumen’s mission to create a world beyond poverty. Acumen is a non-profit global venture fund that invests in companies that deliver critical goods and services in sectors such as health, energy, agriculture, and education. The concept is simple: use charitable donations to invest in entrepreneurs who wish to create a company with a lasting social impact.

Within the past year, DC+Acumen has hosted events addressing issues central to its community including social justice, the education gap, Islamophobia, and mass incarceration, through a social entrepreneurial lens. This spring, DC+Acumen launches its salon series which will combine dinner and discussion on a range of topics related to Acumen’s mission and work. DC+Acumen’s first salon will take place on April 20th at Das Ethiopian on the Acumen Manifesto.

DC+Acumen will host its second salon dinner featuring the winning teams and ideas from our Social Impact event. As a friend of +Acumen, they will also be offering a discount of $29 to Seth Godin’s Leadership Workshop, the first in a series of +Acumen Master Classes. Interested in learning more about DC+Acumen and ways to get involved as a sponsor or volunteer? Visit them at or reach out to them at

Interested in becoming a future partner of Startup Weekend DC? Please reach out to us at We’d love to work with organizations who share our passion for growing the entrepreneurial community in our city!

Attend Startup Weekend DC Social Impact on April 22-24 at iStrategyLabs DC. Learn to build a startup by being an entrepreneur! Get your ticket today!


Startup Weekend DC Team