Those taking part in Nelson’s latest Startup Weekend brought passion, creativity and real-life problems to the table, creating some truly unique solutions.
Organised by local.foundation, the event was a chance for aspiring entrepreneurs to create a business pitch for judges in just a matter of days.
In the end, it was the six-person team Where on Earth which impressed the judges most.
“The problem we were addressing is that there is a growing number of consumers who want to know the back story behind the products, they want to make informed decisions,” says team member Mathew Pottinger. “That might be because they’re concerned about the quality, they’re environmentally-conscious or they want to have social fairness in the manufacturing process.”
Their solution was to create an online market place where businesses could list products, accompanied by an interactive map that showed consumers each stage of the manufacturing process, including the raw materials used and where they came from.
Five different teams were formed during the Startup Weekend, the common theme amongst individuals taking part being to have fun and learn new skills.
“For me, the biggest thing is that we came into it thinking that, with six people, it was going to give us a major advantage because we’ve got so many brains, but then we quickly worked out that six people is actually a massive source of conflict. At some stages we all struggled with teamwork, but it was really rewarding when we overcame that,” says Where on Earth member Helena Merschdorf.
Throughout the weekend teams had to unite around an idea, focus on customer development, validate their ideas, practice LEAN Startup Methodologies and build a minimal viable product, before demonstrating their prototypes and receiving feedback from the judges.
“It’s been a fantastic weekend and I think it’s been surprising to see the level of ideas that have come out,” says mentor Sacha MacDonald. “It’s been interesting to watch them pivot through the weekend and change their ideas where they needed to and they’ve all done fantastically in terms of their presentations, I’m quite proud of them all.”
Roost was the runner-up team, focusing their business around taking the pain out of first home buying, Eco My aimed to help people become more environmentally-friendly and Biz Movers sought to bring employee bases from large businesses down from Auckland to the Nelson region.
Their initial problem being high house prices, traffic congestion and other problems people face living and working in the larger city centres.
Finally, Bring it On looked to help young men, regarding mental health and other barriers to moving forward in life, through the use of gaming and virtual reality.
Judge Dan Khan says he has been to many Startup Weekends as a participant and mentor and often sees “relatively run-of-the-mill ideas,” however the topics discussed over the weekend were “actually meaningful problems that needed solving.”
“Where on Earth had been down to the market and talked to 120 people. I’ve never been to a Startup Weekend where a team has done that much validation work,” says Dan. “I think there’s a tendency to go out to try and prove what you already thought was true, but it sounded like those guys had learned a lot from the people they’d talked to and the product they built in such a short time was huge.”