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Friday, December 01, 2023

Startup Weekend gets locals to be inventive, business-minded

Apps and interactive websites took center stage at the second annual Startup Weekend Gainesville, where inventors formed ideas and work teams to make concepts realities.

The competitive event, which ran from Friday until Sunday night, spawned ideas such as Bounce, an app that connects stranded students with student drivers, and Game On, an app that helps users organize pickup games of basketball or other sports.

Ten idea pitches were selected for inclusion in the competition, and about 70 people participated throughout the project teams.

Scientist and UF alumnus Aleksander Levental pitched the idea for Waitr, a mobile application restaurants can use to receive orders from customers as well as feedback. It also alerts restaurant workers when a returning customer who logged a previous negative experience comes in.

Turned Up Technology, which placed second, was the only hardware-based entry. It turns off music in earbuds when they are taken out of a user’s ears and turns on when users put them in.

Levental, whose Waitr app took first place, said the atmosphere created at Startup Weekend was key in bringing his idea to fruition.

He said it provided all the necessary resources from design and business mentors to working spaces that allow teams to efficiently collaborate.

Addison Killebrew, a 20-year-old UF event management sophomore, was a part of the Waitr team. He said he joined the competition to use his creative side by making something people can use rather than just consuming.

Orrett Davis, global startup weekend facilitator, said the weekend is the best experiential education for entrepreneurship.

“This weekend provides a safe environment for entrepreneurs to test their ideas and get feedback,” he said.

Anjali Kundra, Startup Weekend lead organizer, said the weekend is all about team-building and opening up to new ideas.

Kundra said the weekend gives people the tools to get started in the entrepreneur community and encourages them to think differently.

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Martin Schaffel, mentor and judge for the competition, said he looked for the “buy ability” of a business — whether a product solves a problem and whether producing it is feasible.

Winning entries were awarded with about $10,000 collectively in services, including consulting and attorney services, to aid the launch of the startups.

A version of this story ran on page 4 on 10/28/2013 under the headline "Startup weekend gets locals inventive"

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