NYC and Baltimore: Startup Weekend on the East Coast

Twilio attended two of the six (!!!) Startup Weekend events held this weekend around the world — New York City and Baltimore. Additional events were held in San Jose, Kansas City, and Nashville. There was also an event held in Marseille, France. It was a very entrepreneurial weekend.

Startup Weekend New York City

By John Britton

Startup Weekend New York City kicked off at with the weekly General Assembly happy hour and a few talks before getting right into pitching ideas. Over 200 people showed up for the sold out event.  While most of the attendees were locals, we had partisipants from as far away as Amsterdam.  The event featured talks from founders of companies like SoundCloud, Zaarly, Launch Rock, and more.

5635006302_0d929d30e2Over the weekend 22 teams formed and made excellent progress. New York is my home city so I saw lots of friendly faces, but tons of new ones too. I jumped around to help with Ruby, PHP, and even a bit of mobile development.

There were a few questions about using Heroku and I got a chance to learn a bit about WebSolr while helping one of the teams out. Hacking, building, and plotting contiuned well into the night. It wasn’t all work though, there was plenty of time for lounging around on the beach and posing for photos (courtesy of Solvate).

Teams scrambled to finish their apps and polish their pitches in the minutes approaching 5PM on Sunday. Each team was given three minutes to pitch the idea and show a prototype.

Playmob took first place for their membership based toy shipment mystery box. Second place went to a savings platform designed to take the headache out of group trip planning called WeTrip.It, and third place was awarded to who used Twilio to build “The Conference That Calls You.”

I was especially impressed with the quality of the site and their demo. The applicaiton syncs with your google calendar and automatically calls everyone and puts them in a conference based on a normal calendar event. To activate calling you just need to add the phone numbers and the keyword “#bridge” to the notes field of the event.

An honorable mention went out to Animotion, they built an amazing stop motion animation app for iPhone. The video they created was really impressive.

A big thank you to the organizers Tal Flanchraych, Frank Denbow, Shane Reiser, Madhu Punjabi, and Wesley Ross!

Startup Weekend Baltimore

By Rahim Sonawalla

This weekend 120 people made their way to Baltimore for its first ever Startup Weekend at Bio Park. Participants traveled from as far as New York, and in addition to the standard mix of developers, designers, sales, and marketing people found at most Startup Weekend type events, Baltimore’s included hardware hackers and even a few teachers.

The weekend was as intense as Startup Weekends elsewhere in the nation.  The excitement leading up to the weekend, and the energy showcased throughout the 54 hour sprint, were unlike any I’ve seen before (and I’ve been to many Startup Weekends). I held a very last minute meetup on Thursday night at a local bar and was happily surprised to find, despite the short notice, that someone had driven from Richmond, Virgina to attend!

On Friday night, more than two-thirds of the people pitched an idea, and 21 teams were formed a few hours later. Some teams were up until 3 AM at the ETC on both nights working on fleshing out their idea. Developers were in demand so rather than join a team, I decided to spend the weekend bouncing around and helping where I could.

On Sunday night everyone made their way to the UMD BioPark for final pitches. The top three awards were:

  • Second place: Localize, a way for residents to vote for what type of business they’d like to see in their city
  • Third place: a tie between Dapprly, crowdsourced fashion advice, and TalkChalk, an online platform for middle and high school teachers, parents, and students powered by real-world incentives.

(Photo credit: Baltimore Sun)

SMS and voice played a part in many of the products, and Twilio’s SMS API was used by Parking Panda to negotiate parking spots (first place winner), TalkChalk to send assignment reminders (third place winner), and savvycar to send alerts when a check engine light came on or when the car exceeded a defined speed limit. Twilio’s Voice API was used by to create a lightweight restaurant reservation system that operated over the phone, rather than forcing restaurants to buy expensive hardware.

Baltimore has an energetic startup scene that welcomed me and showed me the best that Charm City has to offer. I look forward to watching it develop, and hope I can come back when the crabs are in season. Be sure to check out the pitches of the Twilio teams embedded below. (I came armed with two Flip cams, and walked out with exhausted batteries and 9 GBs of video, so it’ll take me a while to upload all the teams.) Thanks to the organizers: Mike Brenner, Monica Beeman, Fulya Gursel, and Paul Capestany for making the event happen!

Check out the local news coverage of Startup Weekend Baltimore in the Baltimore Sun…