Startup Weekend in Review!


Startup Weekend

We are proud to announce that Miami University’s third annual Startup Weekend was a HUGE success!  With over 100 students participants, 18 student mentors, 20 professional mentors, 3 all-star judges, 48 hours of entrepreneurial energy, and tons of brilliantly innovative ideas, #SWMU 2014 was our biggest and best yet!

At the end of the weekend, team RecruitHer, a digital sorority recruitment platform,  took first place.  The team was composed of Abby Purdum, Marissa Horwitz, Stuart Yamartino, Allyson Yoder, Maggie Ledbetter, and Rachel Seminara.  After working diligently throughout the weekend, both day and night, they delivered a killer final pitch and handled the judges’ questions like pros.  As far as next steps go, RecruitHer had this to say:

“We plan to keep the momentum going and move forward with developing RecruitHer. Our team is now working with the Miami Entrepreneurship department to finalize a marketing strategy and secure funding.”

Second place was awarded to Kitchen Sync, a mobile app that scans grocery recipes, organizes nutritional information, and generates recipe suggestions.  The team was composed of Laura Meyer, Jeremy Cohen, Caitlin McCoy, Andrea Fiegel, and Bryan Cooper.  As college students on a budget, this team knew how frustrating grocery shopping and cooking could be.  They cooked up a storm (of innovation) all weekend long.  As a result, they served up a fantastic final pitch that was so good, even the judges couldn’t resist!   The team spoke with us about their Startup Weekend journey and their plans moving forward:

“Throughout the weekend, our vision for Kitchen Sync was tested and refined leading us to a clearer business model and an exciting MVP. Moving forward, we intend on exploring next steps for Kitchen Sync by building off of the work we did this weekend and getting guidance from other entrepreneurs.”

Coming in third was Team Passport, a tool geared toward young travelers to document, record, and enhance their journeys all in one platform.  Team Passport consisted of Michael Wallace, Rebecca Peets, Nick Perry, Sebastian Englert, Forrest McGuire, and Wentianfu Zhang.  The idea was conceived as a result of the frustration they faced while studying abroad and trying to meet up with other young travelers.  They worked throughout the weekend to devise a solution to this problem, and thus, Passport was born!  The team took a different approach during their final pitch and performed a skit for the audience complete with the wafting aroma of freshly cooked spaghetti!  Like RecruitHer and Kitchen Sync, Passport plans to move forward with development:

Passport will move on to the next phase in starting our business and making travel documentation more convenient for the global market. We plan to meet with the student venture fund and other venture capitalists to find funding for our model and put it into the market by the summer study abroad term.”

The benefits, lessons learned, successes, and rewards of Startup Weekend don’t end there, though.  While only three teams are chosen as top finishers, every participant walks away with an invaluable experience.  Each year, the peer mentors select a handful of students to be named “Startup Stars” based on their work ethic and entrepreneurial energy throughout the weekend.  This year, our Startup Stars were:

  • Bryan Cooper (Kitchen Sync)  “You have 2 days to fail as fast as you can in order to find success. It’s more about the process and learning how to bring ideas to fruition through action than it is about winning anything.”
  • Lex Rovi (Chasing Geese) “Startup Weekend was a blast! There was so much energy from everyone, and we received one-on-one advice from a number of different mentors. I learned more in a weekend than I have in some classes, and it was  full of hardcore, dedicated individuals. I would recommend the experience to anyone.”
  • Ashley VanBuskirk (Unite) “Startup Weekend was a lot of fun! It was a great atmosphere that taught me so much about entrepreneurship! It was definitely one of the best learning experiences that I have had here at Miami!”
  • Taylor Wicks (EfFit) “The amount of learning that took place and the connections that developed definitely positively influenced the career path I choose to take.This one weekend may have changed my life forever.”
  • Stuart Yamartino (RecruitHer) “Startup weekend was wicked fun. I learned so much about myself, my team, and how a group of strangers can come together in one weekend to make one awesome product.”

Thanks to all the participants, organizers, facilitators, mentors, partners, and supporters who made #SWMU such a memorable and successful event!  Startup Weekend is just one example of all the ways the Page Center for Entrepreneurship at Miami University supports and inspires the dreams of budding entrepreneurs.  For more on our program, visit our websitefollow us on Twitter, and Like us on Facebook.