I arrived in Chicago late Sunday afternoon just as teams were wrapping up and demos were about to begin. The event was hosted at the Illinois Technology Association‘s downtown offices. I could sense a nervous tension as teams tried to prepare themselves to show off their hard work from the weekend. I was fortunate to be selected to participate on the judging panel. After each team made their pitch, the judges went off to deliberate and selected the winners. In total, twelve teams made pitches and five teams took home a prize of at least $1000 in value. Here are the three I had highest rated:
UberCmd is a command line for your cloud. It’s a sort of Greplin meets Launchbar and looks to be incredibly useful. There’s an opportunity for an app store, mobile apps and some interesting possibilities for integration between cloud services. I talked with Colin Young after the event and I’m excited to see where he and his team take it. UberCmd was a near unanimous choice to be the overall winner and had by far the best demo of the evening.
NomSum.com is a site that does hyper-local searches for when you’re looking for something to eat but you don’t know where to go. But instead of search restaurants, you search menus. As a frequent traveler, this would be very useful to me. Nom Sum also got bonus points from me for a working demo and a nice, clean, simple design.
This was presented as a subscription service for personal care products targeted at women, but what I found more interesting was the short bit in the presentation about providing a platform for others to easily set up subscription services for physical products. Providing the platform for that could be very profitable via transaction fees. I also gave bonus points to Ready Jane for demonstrating the actual progress they made over the weekend.
I really enjoyed being a judge and working with the other members of the panel to determine the outcome. The other judges were all very smart and passionate about helping startups. Chicago was a great time and the teams and projects that resulted have some real potential to blossom into viable businesses.
Thus concludes my tour of Startup Weekends. I enjoyed visiting all of the cities and meeting so many different and smart people all with a shared passion of creating. You cannot help but be inspired in this type of environment and I consider myself lucky to have been a part of four great events. There could be no better kick off to Global Entrepreneurship Week. The teams that participated this weekend are living proof of the value of entrepreneurship.
Next stop: home.