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

10 Reasons Why I Had The Time of My Life at Startup Weekend Valencia College Education

During the weekend of April 17th, 2015, I had the honor of being the facilitator for Startup Weekend Valencia College Education, the first ever event that focused exclusively on college-specific educational issues. The event coincided with Orlando Tech Week as well, and I’m blown away by momentum that’s building in their entrepreneurial community.

Below are some of the highlights of my time in O-Town. (Don’t call it that.)

1. Met Gregg Pollack, the founder of Code School

Total fanboy moment – I’ve watched this guy in countless lessons while in my pajamas. Turns out he’s from my hometown as well and went to high school with my older sister. 20 years later, his online learning site sold for $36 million.

2. Rolled up to the event in a classy ride

One of the organizers insisted on driving me to Valencia College in her BMW convertible with the top down. We drove through the express lanes of Central Florida blasting Maroon 5’s “Sugar” for self-evident reasons.


3. Orlando folk danced like nobody’s watching

Even before the party got started, the organizers and mentors had a rhythm they couldn’t shake.


4. …Or danced like everybody’s watching

I’ve been planning this one for weeks: a re-creation of that awesome “walking” scene in the Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” music video:


5. Collected that multi-colored t-shirt swag


Usually I collect a t-shirt after every event I volunteer at, but #SWValencia decided to give me FOUR different colors: green, blue, red, and gray. My wardrobe is now complete.

6. Hung out with high-energy future entrepreneurs

I generally love it when kids show up to Startup Weekend. They’re full of enthusiasm and don’t cease to think of ways to make the event even more fun.


The lead organizer‘s son came up with a dance move that looks as if he’s about to chop me in the head. Fortunately, neither of us were injured in the making of this GIF.


7. Non-stop 3D Printing for everyone


With the support of local organization DeltaMaker, #SWValencia had two printing machines operating throughout the event. The trinkets made were amazing.


At first I was going to steal this Oscar replica to taunt fellow community leader and NYC living legend Andrew Young, but his response was “how cute.”


But it turns out they made one just for me! “That’ll do, Lee, that’ll do.”


8. Did I forget to mention how much dancing went on?

That’s right – even faculty and administration came out to participate at #SWValencia, with some of them taking the top prize. Pretty sure there will be some follow-up traction after this event.

9. Hugged as long and often as I could


During a break, I had some people watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk on why it’s important to establish physical contact in order to build trust, lower stress levels, and increase cooperation among groups.

(Un)lucky for Valencia, I’m a pretty big fan of hugs. I’ve even removed the detached “bro-hug” from my repertoire because, well, “no half measures,” amirite?

10. Whenever possible, I acted (innocuously) insane.

I’ll leave you with this last image of me that pretty much encapsulates my take on Startup Weekend.


Thanks for reading my post! Much thanks to organizers Josh Murdock, Jenny Charriez, and Lisa Macon for having me! My next facilitation will be in Tampa Bay for their Youth Edition event in May. If you’re close by (or even if you’re not), you should come out.

I promise to make it the time of your life.

Lee Ngo is an UP Global Community Leader currently based in Pittsburgh, PA. 

Orlando Startup Weekend Education Helps Solve Problems in Education

This post was written by Josh Murdock, Orlando Startup Weekend Education Organizer and was originally posted on his Professor Josh blog.

Many of us have 8am-5pm jobs. But there are always these things called weekends that give us an extra 54 hours of time to explore, relax, learn, and build. What can you do in 54 hours? How about creating a startup business that solves a problem in education. That’s what happened July 11-13, 2014 at Valencia College’s Collaborative Design Center on the West Campus. Fifty designers, developers, entrepreneurs, and educators came together over a weekend to create seven amazing companies in 54 hours at Orlando Startup Weekend Education. Many of the participants were from Central Florida but one came from Honduras and another from New Jersey to participate.


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Friday night both friends and strangers kicked off a weekend long journey to create a startup business from just an idea. Over 24 participants pitched their own ideas that would solve educational problems. Afterwards all the 60 second pitches, came a vote by all those participating on which ideas were their favorites. Educators votes were worth double, since it was education focused Startup Weekend. Narrowed down to form seven teams ranging from ideas that would attempt to solve a national problem concerning the lack of girls going into STEM careers to a solution that tries to connect teachers and potential guest speakers in an easier way.

Orlando Startup Weekend Education SWORLEDU Voting on Ideas

I was the main organizers for this weekend. It’s my ninth time attending a Startup Weekend, typically attending as a mentor in the past. It was the third Startup Weekend Education hosted in Orlando, one of the few in the southeast. I’m always amazed at the journey these teams go through from just an idea to a potential business that could have a huge impact on education.

The seven pitches that formed teams included:

  • Inspire Us: eHarmony for connecting guest speakers and teachers.
  • Party Time: Time management app for college students.
  • OE Scope: Turing optical microscopes into digital microscopes with a smartphone app and unique 3D printed adapter with lots of sharable features.
  • Telling Tales: A storybook development website for developing reading skills.
  • Learn Like a Girl: After school program for girls to get invovled and interested in STEM careers.
  • Lab Safety: Digital lab safety courses for both students and teachers to prevent accidents from happening.
  • Global Glass: Non-profit connecting Honduras (or other countries students/teachers) to teachers or retired teachers in the United States digitally for assistance and tutoring.

Saturday the seven teams focused on defining their problem, solution, and users. They went out to validate their ideas with those who are impacted by these problems or could be potential users or customers of their solutions. As each team moved along their journey, they are guided by various mentors from the community who volunteered their time to ask the tough questions and give guidance when needed. Many teams pivot in response to validation, competition, and lessons learned along their weekend journey. Dr. Lisa Macon, Dean at Valencia College was one of the mentors over the entire weekend and helped bring Startup Weekend Education to Valencia. “Watching the teams progress from “idea” to “product” was eye-opening. The teams with members who asked questions and kept an open mind progressed quickly which should be a lesson to the others who came in with hard and fast ideas. All of the participants learned something about product development, business models, and teamwork. I am looking forward to the next Startup Weekend event.”

Mentors working with teams at Orlando Startup Weekend Education

Sunday is the final push to develop a quality pitch that will impress the judges. Teams continue to build, validate, and get assistance for mentors along the way. Practicing pitches and being comfortable sharing your ideas in a simple to understand format is a key to success. Areas the judges focus on are customer business validation, education impact, user experience design, and product execution. The winner of July’s Orlando Startup Weekend Education was Inspire Us, bringing professionals into the classroom.

Orlando Startup Weekend Education SWORLEDU Group Photo

Everyone walks away with new lessons learned from others, including the mentors, judges, and organizers. One mentor Rob McCaffery, a Professor at Valencia College, said, “In addition to learning more about business, I find a lot of techniques during Startup Weekend that I can use to engage my classrooms and get students interacting with each other.”

Dr. Sandy Shugart, President of Valencia College was one of the judges. “Not many one-weekend co-curricular experiences are genuinely transformational. But Startup Weekend truly is.” stated Shugart.

Orlando Startup Weekend Education SWORLEDU Judges including Carlos Carbonell, TD Haines, Dr Sandy Shugart

After the weekend is over, it’s not the end for the winning and losing teams. It’s a chance to decide if they want to continue their journey in entrepreneurship and educational change. It’s an opportunity to connect again with those friends you met for the first time over the weekend. It’s a time to get involved in local meetups, such as EdTech Orlando ( that talk about the need for change in education year around.

Interested in learning more about Startup Weekend Education? Visit and search for #SWORLEDU on Twitter to see what happened at this weekend’s Startup Weekend Education Orlando event.