Startup Weekend: preaching, not selling
Thomas Edison famously said that genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration. It seems he was an enthusiast. In our experience, perspiration is nearly everything.
For a second year in a row, we took part in Startup Weekend Montreal, an event that's 0,02% dedicated to inspiration (the so-called "Fire Pitch sessions") and 99,98% to perspiration. For 56hrs, developers, designers, marketers and financiers come together to structure their projects, find ways to fund them and throw them at experienced coaches and mentors.
It comes as somewhat of a surprise that despite the large number of projets there were initially presented, nearly all of them are applications and digital services. No products, no services. Makes you wonder. Maybe there's something to be be had there…
Nonetheless a few good ideas that truly connect with contemporary issues, solve real problems, and promise to deliver real value.
Braces yourselves, winter gets notified
Snowtification is a relational service that puts snow removal companies together with individuals that hopes to make the snow removal process in private households more efficient. The services uses geolocalisation to warn clients via SMS. The database will also facilitate competition between players, increasing fidelity and maybe one day, integrating public works' warnings as well. At the time of writing, the application and website were both online and SMS' were sent to users in the room.
On shamelessly.co (online), users can go and formulate specific consumer-service requests towards larger brands. The platforms serves as a sort of backend for Twitter where companies can monitor specific tickets opened by their customers. The simple tool targets all large, consumer-service-intensive-centric companies that may suffer from bad feedback. The startup's founder claims that companies who value consumer support like Shopify and Frank & Oak will love it.
One of the interesting features of Shamelessly is that users can, for instance, put in two tweets: a good one and a bad one. This blackmail-like process allows customers to set an expectation of the time it should take to be solved, and depending on what happens, one of the two gets sent. That way problems may be addressed before a public tweet goes out, and the company may join the wall of fame, rather than the wall of shame.
Mi parking su parking
ParkHereCo is a mobile app that allows owners of parking spots to rent them to other individuals that work or have business in their neighbourhood. We were surprised to learn that the parking industry in North America stands at a high of 19Bn$, of which 89% goes towards salaries (data to be verified). The idea is to optimize and reduce parking costs. The business model needed much refinement, but the UI is worthy of our appreciation.
Off the couch, no commitment
GymFlex is a flexible way that anyone can go to any gym, anytime, commitment free. Though the daily passes are discounted, part of the money spent is put in the user's account and can be reused towards a more committed relationship with a specific gym, lowering the barrier to entry and increasing member's loyalty. With 250,000 young professionals in Montreal — 96% of which have not been to a fitness center in the last year — the opportunities are significant.
Like a thing then put a click on it
With PointOut, you like it, you get it. The company proposes to make anyone's rich media such as pictures a potentially clickable items that fans can buy without leaving the picture. A colourful halo points to items of clothing, accessories, sports items, etc. within the picture, and a one-click feature instantly ads it to the shopping cart, completes the transaction and the item is on its way. Self-described as an "instagram with a commerce filter", the company generates commissions through the platform by reaching out to content creators — fashion bloggers, athletes, or anyone with influence over social media and blogs. On the other end of the value equation, brands and online retailers would be able to measure how they reap immediate benefits from sponsorships, and generally improve turnout by making purchasing easier for fans.
Many other contenders would have been worthy of mention. Makers & Movers (enterprise social media), Auxidia (menus to help primary caregivers), C.U.There (who took an unexpected 'dating' turn at the last minute), RealContext (user pattern recognition and curated recommendations), Makey (get paid for small tasks on the go) and MyOrganica (mapping of organic foods providers).
Without surprise, the jury (Stéphane Gagné - Google Québec, David Nault - iNovia, Ian Jeffrey - FounderFuel, Antoine Azar - Mobilogie, Alexander Lynn - Sid Lee) granted the following prizes...
- third place : for attacking a big problem and doing it with a lot of passion, GymFlex.
- second place : for an opportunity that's worth solving, ParkHereCo.
- first place : my favourite, and obvious contender from Friday night onwards, Snowtification, with whom we hope to be working in the future.
Bravo to all the teams. See you next year ;)