You have to check out this great look at two awesome Startup Weekend companies. This post comes courtesy of Derek Koch and the original article can be found on the The Whiteboard site. For more about Derek, check out the info at the end of this piece. Thanks Derek and way to go Startup Weekend New Haven, MeritBooster, and Applicate, you guys rock!
November 2011 was a big month for the startup community in New Haven, and the Connecticut entrepreneurial ecosystem. The first ever Startup Weekend New Haven had the city buzzing with entrepreneurial energy. During the event, which drew about 140 participants, a total of 14 teams formed, pitching ideas from education, to technology, charity, and yes, even dating. At the end of an amazing weekend, not only did everyone go home with a renewed entrepreneurial zeal, three teams were also officially declared winners.
But all of the teams were left with a question: Where does all that excitement lead? And maybe more important, can I translate my Startup Weekend win into lasting success?
This March, New Haven has at least part of the answer to those questions. By raising funding through a new accelerator program called TechStart, the top two teams from SW New Haven (Applivate and MeritBooster) are blazing a trail, and showing that they are here to stay.
The Repeat is Sweet
In conjunction with a Jobs Bill passed in October 2011 by Connecticut’s legislature, Connecticut Innovations (CI), Connecticut’s “state VC firm,” announced a plan to deploy a hefty $250 millionin the local entrepreneurial ecosystem over the course of the next five years. More immediately, CI announced a plan to help more startups get off of the ground with their new TechStart program.
This 10-week venture acceleration program makes available $25,000 in debt funding and will provide startups with the resources and mentoring that they need in order to make sure that their startup hits it hard.
Winning a spot in the program wasn’t a cake walk. Of all the applications made to the TechStart program, 9 were accepted into the program. Two of those nine – Applivate and Merit Booster – got their start at Startup Weekend New Haven (the second Startup Weekend held in Connecticut, following Hartford):
- Applivate (New Haven)
- Dealizio (Niantic)
- eBrevia (Stamford)
- Merit Booster (New Haven)
- My Luck Club (New Canaan)
- Red Ox Technologies (New Haven)
- Scaled Liquid Systems (New Haven)
- Seldera (New Haven)
- Snippet (Hamden)
The Winners Profiled
Both teams have a unique mission, and exemplify the diverse spirit of the local startup community.
Last month, we asked John Fitzpatrick of Applivate our eight questions for entrepreneurs. He explained that his venture is focused on giving back to thecommunity through positive action. As he explains:
“We make a smartphone app called ShugaTrak. Parents use ShugaTrak to reward teens with diabetes for checking their blood sugar. ShugaTrak connects the teen’s phone to the teen’s glucose meter and reminds the teen when to check blood sugar. When the teen does check blood sugar, ShugaTrak notifies the parent, praises the teen, and issues a reward to the teen. If the teen goes too long without checking blood sugar, ShugaTrak sends an alert to both the parent and the teen.”
Applivate was the first place winner of Startup Weekend New Haven. Their eight person team took home a spot in the Global Startup Battle, an impressive trophy from The Entrepreneurship Foundation, seed capital totaling $1,500 from The Entrepreneurship Foundation and Bad Girl Ventures, $2,500 in legal services from Wiggin & Dana, six months of incubator space from CTech @Science Park at Yale, and six months of free hosting from ISG.
Merit Booster’s 14 year-old CEO Keshav Patel has his sights set high. A father & son team who came to the weekend as an educational experience, Merit Booster took second place at Startup Weekend New Haven and earned the ‘Team Choice’ award. Their prize package included $1,500 in legal services from Wiggin & Dana, and three months of free hosting from ISG.
In a recent interview, Keshav Patel explained his venture as such:
“We help aspiring young people rally support and funding for their projects (school related and extracurricular) by tapping their social networks. For Boosters (project funders), we give them a new way to find and support young people who are going above and beyond what their peers are doing – that’s what we mean in our tagline: “Find and Fund Youth Excellence.”
The teams have ten weeks to line up their “three-peat,” but Connecticut Innovations anticipates that by the end of the program, the teams will be able to launch. To help them in their pursuit of a third win, they will also be given the chance to pitch to a group of investors in order to take the next big steps in growing their venture. Speaking on behalf of Connecticut Innovations, new CEO, Claire Leonardi expressed her thoughts about the popularity of this new program:
“We are excited that so many entrepreneurial teams applied to the fund and are pleased to support such a diverse group of new ventures. By combining funding with concentrated and focused guidance, we will ensure that these teams have the best chance to turn their new business concepts into successful tech-based companies – Connecticut’s companies of the future.”
New Haven’s Startup Weekend was followed by Startup Weekend Storrs in January 2012, andStartup Weekend Stamford is coming up at the end of March. The staff of Whiteboard is looking forward to hearing great news from Applivate, MeritBooster, and all the teams emerging from Startup Weekends in Connecticut. Good luck!
About Derek Koch
CEO of Independent Software, Editor in Chief of Whiteboard, helping entrepreneurs and small businesses create the next great web concept.