Forget Silicon Valley. The next big tech company could very well come out of Northeast Wisconsin.
I had the opportunity to attend presentations at the end of the first-ever Startup Weekend in Green Bay, and was blown away by the ideas.
These people were able to pitch a concept for a new business and produce something real – all within 54 hours. If I get my oil changed over the weekend, I feel pretty productive. But the teams at Startup Weekend Green Bay really accomplished something amazing in a very short time.
Here’s a look at the three winning teams and their business ideas…
- Find out more about what goes on at Startup Weekend and who’s behind the event
1. First Place – Lingolit
That’s the basic idea behind Lingolit.com. Team leader Chad Hendricks wasn’t even planning on pitching an idea at Startup Weekend. But the day before it all began, he came up with this concept.
“I wanted to pitch an idea just to pitch an idea and didn’t think other people would think it was interesting or even care,” Hendricks says. “I was expecting to join another group and business idea.” As it turns out, the judges ended up choosing Lingolit.com as the overall winner.
What’s unique about Lingolit is that the books will be narrated by a native speaker – not simply translated into another language. The books will also be interactive. So when kids click on items in a picture or words on a page, it will highlight and speak the word.
“I’m a teacher and wanted to get the Spanish teachers at my school to translate my kid’s books,” Hendricks explains. “Sure, I can buy Spanish books but I do not know how to pronounce the words. So this idea came from something that I had wanted for my own life.”
Next steps for Lingolit include contacting and potentially working with book publishers to form a partnership. For now, they’ve begun by using public domain or open source books – such as the classic, Good Night Moon.
- Find out More about LingoLit.com and Sign Up for Updates
2. Second Place – VigorUS
That’s the goal the team connected to VigorUs.co came up with. Their plan is to harness the data collected when people use devices that track exercise. Popular examples include the FitBit and Nike+ Fuel Band.
By bringing all that individual data into one place, VigorUs would let people to work together as a team on reaching fitness goals, and could even allow teams to compete head-to-head.
Team leader Josh Braun says he noticed his FitBit was great at collecting data. But he wondered why he couldn’t do more with it other than plotting out his own activity.
“I also noticed that even though each fitness tracker collected the same info, none of them talked to each other,” says Braun. “A FitBit user can’t easily share with someone who wears a Nike+ Fuelband. I realized that many people exercise in teams because friends, family, and coworkers motivate us more than just graphs and data points. I thought, ‘Why don’t fitness trackers allow us to work towards goals collectively with friends? Why can’t we make fitness goals social and fun?'”
The VigorUS team plans on polishing up its first version of the service, and then wants to find businesses interested in using it for an employee wellness program.
- Find out more about VigorUS.co and Subscribe to the Blog
3. Third Place – Leagueify
What if you could setup a fantasy league about almost anything?
That’s what the Startup Weekend team connected to Leagueify set out to create. They describe Leagueify as “fantasy leagues for the rest of us.”
Team leader Ross Larson is a big football fan, but he felt like fantasy football put too much focus on offensive stats, and wondered why other stats were ignored. He also participated in a DIY Winter Olympics fantasy league and was surprised there was nowhere online that could efficiently host such a competition.
Larson says there are plenty of possibilities for making data fun – especially when it creates a storyline and a little bit of rivalry.
“The internet gives me information, but it can’t make me care,” he says. “Leagueify can help turn data from the internet into players, teams, and points, allowing for friendly competition among friends over the subjects that you care about. Play for bragging rights over snowfall totals, Oscar winners, car sales, reality TV show contestants, or something else! Where there’s data, there’s a game.”
The Leagueify.com team plans on “play-testing some leagues on an invite-only basis.” Since Startup Weekend concluded, they’ve also partnered with additional developers and are getting some guidance from a few startup veterans.
- Find out more about Leagueify.co and Sign Up for Updates
How You Can Get Involved With the Local Startup Community
There were nine total teams at Startup Weekend Green Bay and around 45 people participated. All of the ideas were impressive.
A few others were Goods Runner – an app that uses a network of “runners” to pick things up for you from places that don’t deliver. There was also Wuxtry – a mobile service that updates users about community issues and public meetings. And Fans Park Here – an app initially created for Packers fans as well as businesses and homeowners near Lambeau Field that supports parking spot reservations. You could call it the “Airbnb for parking.”
Check out the Startup Weekend Green Bay blog for more on all the ideas and keep a close eye on all of these entrepreneurs. They’re going places.
You can also hear from the three winning teams and other local startups when Digital Fertilizer hosts its Startup Showcase next month.
- What: Startup Showcase with Digital Fertilizer
- When: March 10th, 6-8pm
- Where: The Green Room Lounge, De Pere
- More info: Click Here to RSVP and for Additional Details