SW DC Team Weekly Eats Wants You to Eat Dinner for Dinner

This article was originally published by Marla Shaivitz on Tech Cocktail.

Winners of DC’s Startup Weekend, Weekly Eats are ones to keep your eye on. Not only did they claim the top spot in the capital’s weekend competition in late November – they were the highest placing US team in the recent Global Startup Battle.

Here’s the pitch: When you have zero food in the fridge, or the food you do have is constantly going bad before you use it, sign up for Weekly Eats and indicate:

  • How many meals you’re planning that week
  • Your budget
  • Your ability as a cook

Weekly Eats will find and suggest the best recipes based on the parameters you’ve set, creating a list so you can shop online and track your weekly food consumption.  The social aspect is built-in, in case you want to impress your friends or make your mom happy that you’re eating well, and if you miss a recipe, an email reminder is sent off.

It has the makings of a nutrition tracking app, meal planning service and recipe-discovery site all in one.

With the help the active DC Tech community, Weekly Eats placed 3 out of 46 teams at the Global Startup Battle, an event sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation’s Startup Weekend in which winners from 68 Startup Weekend events competed on a global stage. Weekly Eats was the only US team in the Top 10.

Co-founders Neil Panjwani and Vivek Pamulapati are fresh from a year-long stint at the National Institutes of Health. Panjwani is a developer from southern California with a major in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Economics from Duke University. With a background in computer vision, he hopes to apply his technical skills to the consumer market to create tools everyone can use. He specializes in back-end development, strategic positioning, and “getting things done.” Pamulapati is a developer hailing from the state of Iowa. Though formally trained in Chemical Engineering at Princeton University and Image Processing at the National Institutes of Health, he is now interested in leveraging Internet technologies to solve every day problems.

Both Panjwani and Pamulapati came into DC’s Startup Weekend fully intending to form a company. After rounding out the team with more developers (tech and business) the group is hoping to launch in early 2012.

Initially, both thought their audience would be post-college-age guys, yet quickly found it’s bigger than that. One of the judges at the Startup Weekend (a woman in her 40’s) confided in the team – the only time she ever cooked for her husband, it made him sick. A little extreme, sure, yet even if you’re a so-so cook, it’s easy to get into a food rut, cooking the same things all the time.

From Aarhus to Thailand: How Startup Weekend Changed My Life

Guest blogger Therese Hansen is the co-founder of Monzoom, the company behind the social media filtering service xiive.com.

Back in 2010 I begged and pleaded with my husband to go with me to Startup Weekend Aarhus. I had promoted the event on my programming blog and told all my friends to come and now I needed to convince my husband, who was already overworked, that it was a good idea for us to use a whole weekend working on a crazy idea for a new company instead of relaxing at home. He was not happy about it but eventually he gave in and we went.

I should add that we are both programmers and it was not the first time we had collaborated on a programming project, but only for fun and never with the ambition of starting a company.

Finding the Right Team

Friday evening we listened to all the pitches, the 10 projects were announced and suddenly we were the most popular people in the room. There were several teams that needed programmers and I guess we looked like a 2-for-1 sale. Friday ended late for us but when we got home we couldn’t sleep. The buzz of excitement from meeting all those interesting people and thinking about starting a company had us up talking all night.

One of the things we talked about was the team we were on. The initial idea was to work on online education with a focus on children’s different learning styles—the idea was very much in the earliest stage.

Since our specialty is programming we did not think that we could really contribute in this idea much in one weekend and we decided to talk to one of the other teams that we knew needed programmers. The other team welcomed us with open arms and our old team was very understanding—they knew that they were not ready for a coding phase just yet.

Our new team was working on a Facebook application for planning a trip to the movies with friends. The idea was to make an application where you could watch trailers, post on your wall that you wanted to see the movie, invite friends, and then plan when and where to go and buy tickets. After the movie you would receive a text asking you to rate the movie and when you answered you would get a coupon for a place in the area where you could go get something to drink or a snack. The ratings were used by the application to recommend future movies and to let you know if your friends liked a movie – and to recommend Facebook friends to invite to your next trip to the movies.

During the weekend we got a basic Facebook app to work and we were able to send text messages to the audience during our pitch, asking them to reply with a rating of our pitch and we could then show them the answers we received on the big screen. Some of the creative people on the team made a short video pitch and talked to local movie theatres that were very interested. We also talked to a company that promoted movies online about how much they usually spend and how they traditionally used Facebook for this. All the feedback was positive –
we knew we were onto something.

Startup Weekend Convinced Us to Jump Off the Cliff

We didn’t win any of the Startup Weekend prizes but after a few months the idea was accepted into Startup Bootcamp Copenhagen as the company Gruvi. My husband and I were still working full time, so we had to let others take over the idea and follow it from the sideline.

Startup Weekend was an eye-opener and though we didn’t continue with the team we had there, we just knew that we had to quit our well-paying jobs and start our own company.

Long story short: We did. We quit our jobs, sold the car and gave notice on our apartment. Bootstrapping a company is never easy but we had an idea to how we could stretch our savings; 5 months later we moved to Thailand while we worked on our first project – an idea we had talked about for 2 years. The details of the idea has changed a few times and we had to work hard at learning to work together, but now we have found a concept that we are both passionate about. And we have just had a private beta launch for xiive.com – a social media
filtering service!

Living in Thailand is so cheap that we can do this for a few years before we run into cash flow problems but we do a bit of consulting work on the side as well.

Our lives have changed a lot since that Startup Weekend: new jobs, a new address, and we have an even stronger marriage, now that we work together – all because of a weekend where it would have been so much easier to just stay at home and relax.

Lessons in Leadership from Global Entrepreneurship Week

As we close Global Entrepreneurship Week 2011 and Startup Weekend’s Global Startup Battle, I would like to take a moment to reflect on some lessons in leadership that emerged during the past 2 weeks.

First of all, I humbled to have an amazing opportunity to lead the Global Entrepreneurship Week activities for Startup Weekend, where 60 communities all over the world worked to build over 700 startups in just two weekends!  Each community produced one winner and that winner competed in the Global Startup Battle, which ran from November 21 to November 28, 2011.  This was a competition hosted on Startup Weekend’s Facebook Fan page, which collectively garnered over 36,000 votes.

Secondly, I also had an opportunity to meet with startups from China and Hong Kong, and help run the Shanghai and Shenzhen Startup Weekend events.  This experience, coupled with the excitement of Global Entrepreneurship Week has given me a different perspective on what a leadership is.

Here are three lessons in leadership that I gleaned from observing and participating in the Global Entrepreneurship Week:

Leaders Build Communities – Leaders recognize that their business is a small piece in a much bigger community/ecosystem.  The winner of the Global Startup Battle, Awesome Ship, from Hong Kong, realized that in order for them to win the battle, they needed to galvanize their entire community.  With the help of Ben Crox, the organizer of BarCamp HK, they were able to recruit their peers from Startup Weekend to help rock the vote.

Leaders See the Big Picture – Now with the help of their peers from Startup Weekend, the Awesome Ship team pushed the message that winning the Global Startup Battle would be a triumph for Awesome Ship, but more importantly, a triumph for Post 80’s Gen Y’s in Hong Kong (who are branded as lacking the “Hard working spirit” of their predecessors).  This messaging spread like wildfire throughout the Hong Kong startup community, getting press coverage in the six major news publications in Hong Kong, which ultimately sealed their position as the top runner in the competition.

Leaders Aren’t Afraid to Roll Up Their Sleeves – Real leaders do whatever it takes to make their startup work.  During the Global Entrepreneurship week Startup Weekend events I heard countless stories about how true leaders rolled up their sleeves and built working prototypes, and then hit the streets to show their prototypes to potential customers.  Sometimes they returned finding that their assumptions were wrong and worked through the night to build something new – often times finding an even better product-market fit.  Startups are not built from behind an spreadsheet, startups are built by leaders unafraid of getting their hands dirty.

Even though the Global Entrepreneurship Week is over, these leaders live on to push their communities ahead.  Can’t wait for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012!

Post contributed by Ahmed Siddiqui, who coordinates Startup Weekend events in the San Francisco Bay Area, and also founder of Go Go Mongo!, a game company that inspires kids to eat healthier.  He can be reached through twitter: @siddiquiahmed

What an Educator Learned at Startup Weekend London EDU

This article was originally published by Oliver Quinlan on his blog.

[Last] weekend I spent 54 hours in one room with 5 people I had never met before, building an educational product as part of ‘Startup Weekend London Edu‘. The weekend was all about building a business around learning, but for the team I worked with it came to equally be about learning from the process of building a business. 

Our product was ‘The Night Zookeeper‘; a website for children to create and write for a real audience and help each other to develop their ideas. From pitching initial ideas to the whole event, we formed teams of educators, business people and developers, and were supported and challenged by experienced mentors to develop our product for a pitch to real investors by the end of the weekend. I was inspired by so many great ideas, but ecstatic when the judges announced that our team had won the event.

As we sat in the pub afterwards, tired but still buzzing from the intense experience of taking an idea to a pitch in 54 hours, all everyone was talking about was how much they had learnt. Early in the process we felt disheartened that we had not managed to get any developers to permanently join our team, yet as an educator I am so pleased that the team that was built around teachers, with a product fundamentally premised on learning, managed to win the ‘Startup Weekend’.

Originally I was going to sit outside of a team at this event, sure I pitched an idea, but that was more for the experience as I wanted to blog about the process and what we might learn from it as educators. As it went, I got sucked in by the passion and child centred focus of the Night Zookeeper team. What really spoke to me about their pitch was the fact they started with children, and set up structures to inspire their creativity and make it feed in to their learning.

During the final pitches, my colleague Peter Yeomans tweeted you can’t teach creativity — only set up conditions for it to take place”. I think we saw that with Startup Weekend; what the organisers did was set up the conditions and structures needed to hothouse our creativity, raised the stakes, and then left us to get on with it. The product we ended up winning with aims to do that as well, providing a framework for children’s creativity, a spark to get it going, but enough space for them to really make it their own, and the stakes of knowing they can share it with their friends, family, and the world.

What will I take from this weekend? Firstly an involvement in a great product, and a huge sense of pride in what we achieved, both in terms of development of the ideas and the win. Secondly some great friendships from working with people in these intense 54 hours. In such an intense, outcomes focused environment I expected egos to clash, and arguments to ensue. I never saw that once, either in our group or any of the teams. At different times, members of our team were off helping others develop their ideas, as our ‘competitors’ were coming to give their input and help to us. Everyone was supporting each other to come to the best creative and business outcomes, and the ethos of collaboration led to some amazing connections being made.

However, what I will also take is the notion that in terms of fostering learning, there is much educators can learn from the world of business. The structures we were given, the environment that was set up, and the mixture of vastly different people with different skill sets and interests, led to a powerful experience of learning, and one I am keen to replicate in a purely educational setting.

It will never be purely educational though; that’s the point. That real, authentic element is so key, and I have seen how when you aim for a real outcome then amazing motivation and learning can happen, and great things can be achieved. Perhaps what we need to bring education to life, is to bring real life into education.


Participation of Women Entrepreneurs at 65% at the Bay Area Women2.0 Startup Weekend

This article was originally published on the Women2.0 website by Farrah Moore.

The spirit of entrepreneureship echoed throughout the Hatchery offices at the third annual Startup Weekend hosted by Women 2.0.

Over 150 up-and-coming tech and biz stars gathered to pitch concepts, gain connections and develop projects aimed to alleviate fiscal or social problems.

65% of participants during the 54-hour challenge were female — and, not surprisingly, the gender domination influenced the traits of devised ideas. Teams such as Safe StepsPerfect Beauty and Carbon 38highlighted the positive effects of technology by and for women.

Safe Steps, headed by two women leaders, uses a mobile app to contact friends and family members if a person does not arrive to a destination within an estimated amount of time.

Perfect Beauty, a social network awarding “crowns” to top members, encourages all women to “tag” themselves beautiful.

The female fitness trio of Carbon 38  supports the busy working lady with their development of a “Zagat guide for fitness and health resorts”.

The dynamics of the award-winning teams sparked my interest. Companies like Words with Bears,Gusto, and Carbon 38 placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd, respectively at Women 2.0 Startup Weekend 2011. These teams had at least 50% gender representation in these teams, supporting the research that gender equality in the workspace breeds even better awesome ideas and execution.

To say everyone is a winner is cliche — but participants did take away something from Startup Weekend — whether an improved knowledge of lean startup development, practice with coding under tight deadlines, or a wallet stuffed with “cards for connections”.

And the startup challenge continues for many after the 54-hour timeframe. The spirit of entrepreneurship grew from Friday to Sunday evening with dialogue and development continuing after this sprint. To all the weekenders, rock on.

Global Startup Battle by the Numbers

All of us in the Startup Weekend community would like to offer a huge congratulations to Awesome Ship.  The team out of Startup Weekend Hong Kong was the winner of this year’s Global Startup Battle.  But Global Startup Battle is so, so much more than just the team that ultimately wins.  Here’s a look at the competition by the numbers:

2.7 million: estimated Global Startup Battle reach through Facebook campaign
32,000+: votes in Global Startup Battle 2011
21,481: visitors to globalstartupbattle.com
7,000+: total Startup Weekend Facebook likes (Nov 21-29)
5,164: votes Awesome Ship pulled in
4,500+: participants in GEW Startup Weekends
2,815: votes getfood.mk (SW Skopje) got
2,700: Startup Weekend Facebook likes on first day of GSB (Nov 21)
1,884: votes Weekly Eats (SW DC) received
68: Startup Weekends that took place during GEW
50: winning SW teams who participated in GSB
29: countries represented in GSB
9: industries/categories the winning ideas fell into

Here are a few more numbers for you: the breakdown of the Top 20 GSB teams (ranked by number of votes)

1. Awesome Ship, Hong Kong
2. getfood.mk, Skopje
3. Weekly Eats, Washington DC
4. EduKoala, Warsaw
5. Le Soul Chef, Sao Paulo
6. MySollars, Geneva
7. CodeTagMe, Bogota DC
8. Comic Factori, La Paz
9. Peepp, Ulaanbaatar
10. MyBestHelper, Vancouver
11. Bookedd, Dallas
12. Football Star, Chisinau
13. Dropifi, Accra
14. SIFE, Startup Weekend Sfax
15. Green With Energy, Halifax
16. Tapja, Houston
17. FundShips, Bloomington
18. Stash Verify, Champaign
19. Vicube, Ho Chi Minh City
20. PrimerTrago, Buenos Aires

The global scale of this competition is astounding and proves that entrepreneurship is a truly international language.  Thank you to everyone who attended Startup Weekends around the world and who supported our Global Startup Battle teams.  See you next year!

And the Winner of Global Startup Battle is…..

Startup Weekend Hong Kong team Awesome Ship!  Congratulations!

According to the Hong Kong Startup Weekend blog, Awesome Ship helps “improve their customers’ satisfaction by actively tracking their packages, no matter which courier service is being used, and notifying them of any status changes directly via SMS, Twitter, email or other means.”

As the ultimate winner of Global Startup Battle, Awesome Ship receives an amazing prize package that will help the team go from seed stage to launch.

  • A table at Launch Pad at the Launch Conference (San Francisco) to meet top investors in Silicon Valley in March 2012 (This includes a flight for 2 team members.)
  • A place at the DEMO Asia Startup Pavilion (Singapore) in February 2012
  • 40 hours of web design from BTrax
  • 40 hours of engineering time from Originate
  • $5,000 in Legal Services from Cooley, LLP
  • PR launch package
  • Meetings with Brad Feld, Managing Director of the Foundry Group, and Andy Sack, Director of Techstars Seattle and Managing Partner of Founders Co-op
  • A day at Google in the San Francisco Bay area
  • A blog post and newsletter promotion from Startup Weekend
  • One full year of bragging rights as the winner of the largest startup competition in the world!

We have much more information on the global participation in GSB 2011 as well as some of the other competitors coming soon.  Stay tuned!

700 Startups Created During Startup Weekend GEW 2011 Events

The headlining competition for the thousands of participants at the 68 Startup Weekend events that took place during GEW (Nov 11-18) was undoubtedly Global Startup Battle: a chance to represent your local startup ecosystem on a global stage, awesome prizes, and secure bragging rights—what could be better?

How about 700 startups!

Heading into GEW, the Core Team and Startup Weekend event organizers were working on a challenge of our own: to bring together enough entrepreneurs to create 500 startup teams.

The final tally is in and forget about making our goal—we blew it out of the water!  A grand total of 700 teams worked on business plans and prototypes at Startup Weekend events on 5 continents and at events that ranged in size from just 5 teams to 26.

We’re really proud to have so exceeded our initial goal.  Although we acknowledge that not all of these teams will keep working on their startup ideas now that the event is over, every member of all 700 teams learned something about entrepreneurship.  They met new people, tried something different, asked great questions, found mentors, and thought about problems in a new light.

We’re already making plans for GEW 2012: 1,000 startups, here’s looking at you!

Status Report: Startup Weekend + Google Partnership

After announcing our new pre-event Bootcamps and the partnership with Google, we’ve had an amazing amount of interest from around the world. We launched the program with events in five cities: San Francisco; Dallas; Las Vegas; New York City; and Sao Paulo, Brazil. After testing the event in these cities we’ve learned a lot and figured out what we need to improve before rolling out the program worldwide.
A lot of people have been asking how they can get involved. Right now, the best way is to submit your information to us. It’s taking some time to get back to everyone, so if your event isn’t coming up soon, we ask you be patient. If you have an urgent question, you can reach out directly to zachary@startupweekend.org.
We should have a more standardized process soon, but until then here are 2 quick tips for Startup Weekend organizers who are interested in holding a pre-event bootcamp:
-Try to have your Startup Weekend event date finalized before planning your bootcamp.
-A good event takes time. If your Startup Weekend event is coming up in two or three weeks, consider scheduling a bootcamp for your next event instead.

Strasbourg Wins the GEW Startup Weekend Hashtagbattle!

Now that the dust has cleared from Startup Weekend Hashtagbattle we can offer congratulations to the winning event: Startup Weekend Strasbourg (#swstras) cinched the win with 1,103 tweets!

Trailing by only 41 votes, Startup Weekend Warsaw (#swwaw) came in second with 1,062 tweets and Startup Weekend Tornoto (#swtoronto) placed third with 1,023 tweets.

All told, 59 Startup Weekend events participated in the SW Hashtagbattle and generated over 5,000 tweets!

Thanks to Camille Roux and Damian Le Nouaille, the co-creators of Hashtagbattle for helping us put together this competition.