Startup Weekend Orlando 2019 – Wrap Up

It’s a wrap folks! SWORL 2019 was the biggest and best ever. 🙂 It was certainly the most sustained entrepreneurial energy Orlando has seen in one place.

Startup Weekend Orlando 2019

By the numbers:

      • 105 tickets sold
      • 45 ideas pitched
      • 10 teams formed
      • 17 coaches
      • 3 judges
      • 54 hours of solid teamwork
      • 60 pizzas, 35 gallons of water, 12 platters of sushi, 6 platters of Italian food, 6 platters of middle eastern/Mexican food, and lots of coffee and snacks

And after all was said and done, the winners were:
1st place
Jacqueline Dufault @ Selffy (Social media-style app to capture memories and feelings but 100% private)

2nd Place
Nelson Cienfuegos @ Xperience Influencer (Platform to connect influencers with brands that pay for performance)

3rd Place
Nina Mirhabibi @ Moodie (A virtual friend in your pocket)

Crowd Favorite
Jeffrey Craig (novelCX – Gig economy for Call centers)

Thanks to all the coaches and judges, our facilitator Josh David Miller, and our venue CREDO Conduit that made SWORL 2019 special for the attendees! It was a tremendous effort by the organizing team members: Rajiv Menon, Dennis Pape, and Vanessa Zababla, and food organizers @Jason Wade (Doorbell Ninja), Ashley Elliott, and Patti Rader. Without them this event would not have happened.

A Big Thank You to our amazing sponsors for investing in our wonderful Orlando/Central Florida Tech & Startup community:

See you all on the next one!

Startup Weekend Orlando 2018 Recap

70 Attendees – 42 Ideas Pitched – 9 Teams – 3 Judges – 15 Mentors – 20 Pizzas – 60 liters of Soda – 300 Pieces of Sushi

From November 16-18 Techstars Startup Weekend returned to Orlando. The event brought together people with ideas they wanted to pursue and the problems they wanted to solve, but who didn’t necessarily know where to start or who to start with. Techstars Startup Weekend Orlando is the place to look for a team, create a prototype of your idea, validate your business idea, and receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs, all in one weekend.

Startup Weekend Orlando Pitch

The event kicked off on Friday, with dinner and networking, an inspiring speech by Phil Dumas of Unikey, pitching ideas, voting, and forming teams. The ideas pitched and the problem that attendees set out to solve spanned social, educational, financial, environmental, or other issues. To give you an idea, of the 70 attendees, 42 pitched ideas, but only 9 teams made it through to the end with fully formed teams and presentations.

On Saturday, mentors met with teams to work on their ideas. They refined business models, got them closer to their MVPs, and nudged them to validate their ideas or pivot where necessary. Teams worked out of the Catalyst Spaces venue from 9am to 10pm, with some heading to other locations to continue working through the night.

On the final day, Sunday, teams were back at 9 am to validate their ideas, build their presentations and rehearse their pitches – again with the help of our expert mentors. Teams jumped on these final opportunities to ask their mentors questions and to become as strong as possible for their presentation to the judged.

Startup Weekend Orlando Working

At 6 pm, we kicked off the final presentations and judging! Pitches were 5 minutes each, with a 3-minute Q&A from the judges. The Startup Weekend judging criteria are broken up into three sections. Teams were judged according to the following 3 criteria, each weighted equally:

Business Model

How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they thought about (either solved or identified problems) competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, their revenue model etc?

Customer Validation

Are teams building something that people actually want? How well does the team understand their customer and their customer’s needs? Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?

Execution & Design

Have they established a “Minimal Viable Product” for the weekend (software, hardware, etc.)? *Note: an MVP is the minimum set of features to be able to start collecting data. Does it deliver a compelling and captivating user experience? Were they able to demo something functional?

Startup Weekend Orlando Mentor

The ideas pitched were:

Overall Winner: Gamer Meetups – an all-encompassing platform for gamer communities by curating gaming events, providing forums for gaming communities, and selling merchandise.

1st Runner Up: Voice Adventures – voice-controlled adventure skills for Amazon Alexa

2nd Runner Up: Sensae – A synesthesia training app to improve your IQ

Crowd Favorite: Street to Feet – Mobile app for shoe identification and purchasing

Brite – Blockchain real estate investments for everyone

Solar Central – Personalized solar shopping and educational experience to provide qualified leads to installers

University Project – an online accelerator for academic projects

Hidden Gems – App that helps recommend restaurants and events to locals by locals

Safe Way – IoT safety monitoring system for your car’s interior

Everyone from the Startup Weekend Orlando team would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who participated, coached, sponsored, volunteered, or supported this annual event. Specifically, we’d like to give a final thanks to our:

Platinum sponsors: Informulate, Catalyst, Talent 4 Startups

Community Partners: Orlando Tech and Beer, Starter Studio, Orlando Economic Partnership, ProfessrJosh, UCF, and Full Sail

Grant supporter: City of Orlando

In-kind sponsors: Doorbell Ninja, MakerFX Makerspace,

Speakers: Phil Dumas – Unikey, Matt Broffman – City of Orlando

Judges: Julianna Ormond – Forensic Strategist, Jason Eichenholz – Luminar Technologies, and Richard Fox – Richard Fox

Facilitator: Josh David Miller (JDM)

Mentors: RC Williams, Udit Mehta, Cameron Ford, Danna Olivo, Vanessa Zabala, Adam Scheinberg, David Brim, Rachel Stern, Chris Giarratana, Jason Wade, Gene McCulley, Beth Kennedy, Angela Kendall, Diane Court, and Marco Santana

Volunteer Leads: Katerina Vazquez, Keyla Reyes, and Lorianne Melendez

From Friday to Sunday evening it was extremely exciting to see how much the participants had transformed, and we received so much positive feedback from people who didn’t know what to expect but walked out of the weekend having learned a lot and having made new connections.

We hope to announce new events throughout the year. Please let us know if you’d like to be involved in any way, as we are always open to fresh perspectives and enthusiasm. Contact our organizing team at with any comments, questions or feedback!

Thanks again and see you next time!

– The Startup Weekend Orlando Organizing team
Rajiv Menon, Dennis Pape, Josh Murdock, and Jessica Korthuis

Saturday’s Nuts and Bolts, Part II

Throughout the day Saturday you may wear many hats. There are a lot of questions to answer and problems to solve. I covered the first three business facets in this postThe final four business facets are interesting and vital to your business’ success. They are:

  • Product/Service Design
  • Product/Service Development
  • Marketing
  • Business Model

What is Product/Service Design?

A simple way of looking at product and service design is understanding and applying user experience. Eric Eriksson at Instagram wrote a great article that explains the what, who and why of product design. I’ve also included an article about digital product design by Andrew Aquino, a product designer at Facebook. 

What is Product/Service Development?

Product/service development takes the design concepts and creates the product or service. Development is the implementation of design. While there can be some overlap between design and development, they are fundamentally different. Also, the product or service can be physical or digital. This means you could have a factory producing vacuums or a digital team creating games.The following articles will help you better understand product/service development.


Marketing is often confused with advertising and sales. Head over and read What is Marketing? A Beginner’s Guide to Marketing and end your confusion. The answers are clear and it covers the four P’s: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place.

I have used to learn about marketing strategy and consumer behavior.

The Tronvig Group out of Brooklyn, NY has an interesting way of presenting marketing strategy. Their blog has great articles that I hope you find useful.

What is a Business Model? defines a business model as “the company’s plan for how it will generate revenues and make a profit. It explains what products or services the business plans to manufacture and market, and how it plans to do so, including what expenses it will incur.”

Whew! Luckily we have great resources to rely on when creating our business models. I’ve included “What is a Business Model?” from the Harvard Business Review. The quality of HBR articles are worth the effort of creating a free account. You will have access to three articles. Choose wisely, you will not be disappointed.

One item I wish to include is the Business Model Canvas. I have worked with this in an online course and I know it will be helpful to you. The Business Model Canvas can be found here. Be sure to watch the 2 minute video that shows its power.

We’ve covered many topics today. You will have all weekend to work on your startup project. I hope the links I’ve included help you and your team create a viable business. Watch this space for an article on creating your presentations.

Saturday’s Nuts and Bolts, Part I

Saturday will be a big day for you and your team. There will be research, product/service design and testing, asking customers for feedback, and meeting with mentors. There will be delicious food and snacks as well.

You will be able to interact with several mentors and ask them questions. Our mentors are experienced entrepreneurs and subject-matter experts. They will answer your questions and help guide you towards building a strong foundation for your startup.

Yesterday I mentioned the following list for identifying the key facets of your business.

  • Market Size
  • Customers (go out and ask people for feedback)
  • Value Proposition
  • Product/Service Design
  • Product/Service Development
  • Marketing
  • Business Model

As you develop your business idea, be sure to ask the mentors questions. The mentors have a wealth of experience and knowledge to offer you and want you to succeed. Also, being able to answer and elaborate on these topics will help you create your 3-minute presentation and prepare for the judges’ Q&A. You want to show the judges the strength and potential of your startup.

Let’s use the list above and dive into the specifics that you will discover about your startup idea. I will cover the first three topics now and address the final four in another blog post.

What is your Market Size? defines Market Size as “the number of individuals in a certain market who are potential buyers and/or sellers of a product or service.” It’s important to know your demographics, buying patterns of potential customers, cost margins and more. Check out these great articles from

Who are your Customers?

Your team will want to find your targeted demographics and ask them questions. This is where you get to test your ideas, in the marketplace. These individuals will be spending money and/or time with your product or service so it’s important to collect data on a variety of related topics. The following articles will get you started.

What is a Value Proposition?

A value proposition is a statement of a product or service that solves a customer’s problem, delivers value, and tells the customer why they should buy from your company and not the competition.

For instance, have you ever wondered how Apple™ can transform a phone into something magical? They package the features of the phone into a user experience. An example is cell phone encryption. Apple™ presents the iPhone’s encryption capabilities with its’ easy-to-use Touch ID feature. In this instance, Apple™  simplified a technical topic into a feature that is easy to use and easy to understand and thus is an example of a value proposition. [The Touch ID feature allows the user to unlock their phone with a fingerprint. The key feature is how Apple™ keeps the fingerprint safe since they do not store an image of it. Apple™ converts it into an “intricate piece of math.”]

Visit this link at to understand the details of a value proposition and why your business needs one.

I hope you see the value in developing your business ideas. Creating products and services that solve specific problems is a fun and creative exercise. This is the Startup Weekend experience we strive to create. We hope you are looking forward to this weekend. We are!

I cover the final four business facets in the next post.

What to Expect on Friday Evening

Welcome to Startup Weekend Pensacola! This weekend we will be hosting a 54-hour event aimed at creating new business ideas.

There are distinct steps that occur throughout the weekend, so I thought I would start with Day One.

After a quick registration you will be able to interact with fellow attendees that are just as nervous. Be bold and introduce yourself. Ask others what they enjoy doing, why they decided to attend Startup Weekend, or the standard “what do you do?” One of the best things you will experience this weekend are the relationships you form with different people. Take the time to get to know them.

I know many of you are interested in possibly pitching an idea. Perhaps you’re intimidated or scared. That’s okay because pitching only lasts 60 seconds. It’s almost more nerve-wracking standing in line listening to others’ ideas.

This week make a list of all your business ideas. Spend 5-10 minutes using Google and find out if those ideas have competition and, if so, what kind? Look at their ideal customers, their products and prices, and their attempt to connect with customers. Think of how your idea is stronger or unique. Does your idea capture a different audience, a larger audience, produce a better product or service, or provide more value?

The information you glean now will help you identify your strongest ideas. Select the top two or three and craft a 60-second pitch for each using the following outline:

  • What problem do you want to solve?
  • Why do you want to solve the problem?
  • How will you solve the problem?
  • Why is this problem important?

A strong pitch will help attract people to your idea which is important when everyone votes and forms teams. The top 10 or 11 ideas with the most votes move forward. Yes, you can vote for your own idea.

Once the voting is complete, the projects (ideas) will be announced and team building can begin. If your idea didn’t get enough votes to move forward don’t despair. Use the feedback you received to refine your idea. Perhaps you will pitch a stronger idea at the next Startup Weekend. Now look around the room and join a team whose idea intrigues you.

After quick introductions, your team will research the business solutions and decide on what you will do the next two days. Determine what you need to learn about your new business. The following list will allow you to gather the information you need for Sunday’s Pitch Event. These items will help you identify the key facets of your business.

  • Market Size
  • Customers (go out and ask people for feedback)
  • Value Proposition
  • Product/Service Design
  • Product/Service Development
  • Marketing
  • Business Model

Brainstorming and discussing the business will be an exciting and dynamic time for each group. Value the input of others. Collaborate and create a plan of action. Go ahead and get started or call it a night. Saturday will be a big day!

Prize Packages – Startup Weekend Tampa 2016

Startup Weekend Tampa is all about becoming an entrepreneur in just 54 hours. You’ll accomplish more in one weekend than you otherwise would have with months of effort. But the real test for your business comes after the doors close on Sunday night – when the spotlight is gone and you crash from your weekend-long emotional high, will you be ready to build your startup? Over the course of the weekend, we want to make sure that we teach you useful skills and put you in a position to form lasting relationships with peers, mentors, judges, and sponsors. Our hope is that you can carry that momentum into your new life as an entrepreneur.

For teams that place in the top three at Startup Weekend Tampa, our community partners have made generous donations to ensure you have the resources you need to accelerate your startup after the event ends.

Below you’ll find the prize packages for first, second, & third place and the Community Leaders that made them possible.

First Place – Estimated $10,000 in value

Station House – Free 6 Months Coworking for 3 people, 6 hours of conference room time per month, 1 hour mentorship with Steve Gianfilippo

Tampa Bay Wave – 6 Months Free Coworking

Reef House Media – Free Intro Video Package

Alex Sink – Lunch with the team

Tony DiBenedetto – Lunch with the team on the Tribridge campus

Reuben Pressman – Lunch with the team at Check I’m Here

RIDG – Free 3 Hour Interactive Custom Visualization Story Session

Riehle Photography – Free Team Shoot in Studio

The Business Show with Jamie and Kelly – Free guest appearance on air highlighting your business

MyArea Network – Article Highlighting Company and Social Media Shoutout

MyArea Network – 5 Marketing Consulting Hours

Topher Morrison / Key Person of Influence – 3 hours consulting and pitch feedback

Ark Applications – 5 Hours Free Consulting

AppNexus – 3 Hours Free Consulting

Rashkin Law – 3 Hours Free Consulting

De La Pena & Holiday & Law / Brent Britton – 1 Hour Free Consulting

Red Wall Marketing – 4 Hours Marketing Consulting

FullShore Solutions – Free Consultation and 10% Discount on Services

Second Place:

Station House – Free 4 Months Coworking for 3 people, 4 hours of conference room time per month, 1 hour mentorship with Stationhouse owner Steve Gianfilippo

Tampa Bay Wave – 4 Months Free Coworking

Ark Applications – 3 Hours Free Consulting

MyArea Network – 3 Marketing Consulting Hours

AppNexus – 2 Hours Free Consulting

Rashkin Law – 2 Hours Free Consulting

De La Pena Law – 1 Hour Free Consulting

Red Wall Marketing – 2 Hours Marketing Consulting

FullShore Solutions – Free Consultation and 10% Discount on Services

Third Place:

Station House – Free 2 Months Coworking for 3 people, 2 hours of conference room time per month, 1 hour mentorship with Steve Gianfilippo

Tampa Bay Wave – 2 Month Free Coworking

Ark Applications – 2 Hour Free Consulting

MyArea Network – 2 Hours Free Marketing Consulting

AppNexus – 1 Hour Free Consulting

De La Pena Law – 1 Hour Free Consulting

Rashkin Law – 1 Hour Free Consulting

FullShore Solutions – Free Consultation and 10% Discount on Services

Who can pitch at Startup Weekend?

By: Allison Barkley

Here at Startup Weekend Tampa we get asked a lot about who is able to participate in the weekend.

The simple answer is: Everyone!

Startup Weekend attendees come from backgrounds in development, programming, business, education, PR, marketing, finance, law and more. Whether you are a serial entrepreneur or new to the startup scene, if you’re motivated to build a product or startup and open to new ideas, you’ll fit right in.

We know. Computers are hard. You don’t know how to code. The truth is, the teams that win at Startup Weekend are the teams with good ideas and presentations – the teams that can most effectively validate their concept and communicate the market potential as well as their ability capture that market. The judges are not there to do a code review. As long as you’re good at something and you make it a point to be useful somehow, you will be. The people who are not useful at Startup Weekend are the people who show up on Friday having firmly decided that they cannot be useful.

Wait! Before you register we have some simple guidelines to keep everything fun.


Everyone who attends the event as an attendee is expected to participate on a team. This is important not only to preserve the mission of Startup Weekend (teamwork!) but also to minimize distractions/disruptions for all working teams. Each person will get 60 seconds to pitch their idea to the audience. Only 10-15 ideas will be selected to move into the weekend. The teams that move on are decided by the attendees’ votes.

You can’t pitch your existing business/app. Startup Weekend is designed to be the most effective platform for growing new businesses from the ground up over the course of a weekend. A key facet of the weekend and a central value for participants is the spirit of complete collaboration, buy-in and ownership. We’ve found that having existing businesses in the mix undermines this spirit, in addition to creating an imbalance between those ideas that are truly ground-level.

In summary, Startup Weekend is an event to bring two types of people together: people who have ideas, and people who can execute those ideas. They work together to build a business over a 54-hour period, with enough research and hard work done to hit the ground running with the business when they’re ready.

Startup Weekend Tampa: Your Community Resource


By Irene Monokandilos

Startup Weekend Tampa is a fifty-four-hour event for developers, designers, enthusiasts, and entrepreneurs pursuing an encouraging space to hack their latest, and sometimes oldest, ideas. But, as we know well at Startup Weekend Tampa, starting can often be the most formidable opponent to any endeavor, and finding an empowering environment to grow our ideas is no easy task. Your community is here to help. At the heart of our event are community sponsors, local businesses whose aid allows Startup Weekend Tampa to offer unmitigated access to a number of venerable mentors, a slew of potential consumers, talented collaborators, curated coaching and esteemed judges to help you dive in, develop and seek validation for your startup.

We understand that this high-energy weekend can seem as daunting as it seems exhilarating, so our team reached out to former Startup Weekend Tampa participant, Rish, to share his experience and speak to why Startup Weekend Tampa is the place for you this November 11-13. Rish attended Startup Weekend after years of toying with new ideas, with marginal knowledge about marketing or how to approach obtaining validation – a developer with an impassioned idea: a passwordless authentication system for all of your internet needs.

With little to no knowledge of what Startup Weekend could do for him, Rish took a leap of faith after a simple google search. On the first night of the weekend, Rish chose a place among developers, designers, and hustlers (motivated non-technical participants from an array of backgrounds), then pitched his idea to a room of like-minded, equally zealous individuals in only sixty seconds. The best eight pitches would proceed to form teams, developing their startups over the weekend. Rish gained little traction, his pitch for a login with no username or password received only four votes – an outcome he attributes to not actively seeking out support from peers. Undeterred by the events of Friday night, Rish quickly pocketed the first of many lessons: the importance of being a go-getter when it comes to obtaining validation.

Rish returned the next morning, with no team, to a room of welcoming volunteers who recognized his determination and sought to elevate him to success after seeing his prototype. With the help of the invested volunteers at Startup Weekend, Rish borrowed diverse talent from every team and utilized the resources available to him to develop his business over the course of the next day. On Sunday night, Rish pitched his business to the crowd, and a panel of judges, in just five minutes. After the event, volunteers encouraged Rish to join the after party to celebrate the weekend’s work and discuss his plan with judges and mentors who believed in his business, including Greg Ross-Munro of Sourcetoad, the premiere custom app development shop out of Tampa. Rish followed this advice, and in the after party space created a lasting connection with Greg. Under Greg’s mentorship, Rish’s startup flourished well beyond Startup Weekend. SuperAuth, “the world’s first truly passwordless authentication system,” is gaining traction and achieving success daily.

With the resources made available to him during Startup Weekend, including sponsors and mentors like Greg, Rish not only grew his business plan and prototype but learned how to pitch to both potential consumers and sponsors. Rish “talked like a developer on Friday, and like a businessman on Sunday.” His experience is an example of how all of Startup Weekend’s moving parts – its volunteers, sponsors, mentors, and judges – are deeply committed to helping participants at all times. Like Rish, no matter where you are in the process on Friday night, you will leave Startup Weekend prepared to take the next steps on your personal road to success having met mentors, collaborators, and supporters along the way.  If you have an idea, a skill, or even an inkling of startup enthusiasm, join us at Ybor City’s Cuban Club this November for an experience that, in Rish’s words, will “change everything.”  

Jacksonville Startup Weekend 2016 – A Grand Success!!!

Congratulations to easyASIN, “a startup that helps Amazon sellers easily match, monitor, and optimize their product listings on Amazon “for securing first place at the 2016 Jacksonville Startup Weekend! More than 72 aspiring entrepreneurs and mentors participated in the 54-hour event held Sep. 9-11 at the University of North Florida, Student Union Building.

Event featured 30 ideas pitched, and 6 startup teams worked tirelessly over 54 Hrs. Winners received prizes worth more than $21,000 of in-kind services to help them launch their new businesses. The grand finale on Sunday, attended by Mark Dawkins (Dean, Coggin College of Business- UNF), Judges (Ted Willich, Juliet Negrete Anderson and Craig Mandeville), Sponsors (SBDC, iStart Valley, Jaycon Systems, RZI, Wilson Dutra, NLP Logix, PS27 Ventures), Media partners (Jacksonville Business Journal, Florida Times Union), Mentors, and Participants was well received.

The top 3 winners are:

1st Place – easyASIN:  Helps Amazon sellers easily match, monitor, and optimize their product listings on Amazon

2nd Place – UAV Me: Aerial photos at your service

3rd Place (also Crowd Favorite) – Vestiti:  The world is your wardrobe


The other startups created during the event were as follows:

ReAppoint:  Get Scheduled!

Thumbs Up Funds Up:  Wealth through wisdom

Easy Tour:  TravelGuide Setter

The top three teams from the 2016 Startup Weekend will receive the following as their prizes.

  • Venture Capital Consulting and detailed report (limited hours) – PS27 Ventures
  • 100 days of free office space – PS27 Ventures
  • $500 gift Certificate for services, $100 gift certificate for online store – Jaycon Systems
  • Business and Trademark consultation and plan (limited hours) for startup or small business. – Sarah Gulati
  • Free attendance to Startup Series Workshop – Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
  • Obtain feedback on your ideas from Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs – Sramana Mitra – 1 Million by 1 Million
  • Guaranteed spot in next cohort for Bunker Lab Jacksonville
  • Coverage on the leading local publications (Florida Times, Jacksonville Business Journal)
  • Apart from intangible valuable experience gained within 54 hours, here are the tangible benefits for each of the participants.
  • Google Cloud Platform is offering all Startup Weekend participants $300 in credits to help build web and mobile app
  • .CO – All participants get access to a free .CO domain


See you all in 2017!!

2016 Startup Weekend Jacksonville Prizes

2016 Jacksonville Startup Weekend organizers are pleased to share that the top 3 startup teams will receive ~$21,000 in-kind services.

In kind Services for top 3 teams include

  • $500 gift certificate for services from Jaycon Systems [ winner – $250, runners up – $150 , 2nd runners up – $100 ] – Jaycon Systems
  • $100 gift certificate for online store [ for winner ]  – Jaycon Systems
  • Venture Capital Consulting and detailed report (limited hours) – PS27 Ventures
  • 100 days of free office space – PS27 Ventures
  • Business and Trademark consultation and plan (limited hours) for startup or small business. – Sarah Gulati
  • Free attendance to Startup Series Workshop – Small Business Development Center
  • Obtain feedback on your ideas from Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs – Sramana Mitra – 1 Million by 1 Million
  • Guaranteed spot in next cohort for Bunker Lab Jacksonville
  • Coverage on the leading local publications

Apart from intangible valuable experience gained within 54 hours, here are the tangible benefits for each of the participants.

  • Google Cloud Platform is offering all Startup Weekend participants $300 in credits to help build web and mobile app
  • .CO – All participants get access to a free .CO domain

Registration Price includes 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches and 3 Dinners during the event with non-stop supply of snacks and beverages. We all know it’s not just about the idea – it’s about the team. Startup Weekend is hands down the best way to find someone, or a team of people, with whom you can actually launch a startup.

Register by Sep 4th to get early bird pricing.

Website:  @

Twitter: @StartupJax

Twitter Hashtag: #swjax