After 54 hours of competition among seven teams at Eastern Foundry, three startups emerged as winners last weekend at Startup Weekend DC: Civic Impact Edition. However, their journeys to success weren’t without a few hurdles. After the event, members of some of the winning teams provided some insight on what it’s like to launch a company over three days.
It starts with a team, and an idea for the business. For the team of cofounders that included Tambra Raye Stevenson, Peter Boyd and Tim Nguyen, identifying a singular business plan to work on presented a challenge right away. They pitched Cottage Foodie, a virtual local farmer’s market that for customers to view the food available, pre-order, pay online, and pick up orders in person.
From there, it’s time to start building. Grand prize winner RecruitHer detects gendered language in job postings and provides alternatives to attract more female applicants by using natural language processing and machine learning methods. The team of founders—including Hratch Sofian, Natalie Olivo, Robert Chandler, Yurani Sandoval, Belen Sanchez, Tracy King, and Evann Smith—had a clear takeaway for finding success at a Startup Weekend competition.
“[You must] clearly identify the value proposition of your company/product in a single sentence as early as possible,” explained Smith, Founder and Chief Data Scientist. “If you can do this, then the problem you are solving should be clear and direct your path to monetization.”
On August 4, Startup Weekend DC is offering the latest chance to launch a company in three days. Several times each year, the global grassroots association hosts 54-hour sessions to give entrepreneurs at all stages the chance to form a team, build and test a new product in front of an esteemed panel of judges and audience.
Each year, the D.C. branch’s event has a different theme. While social engagement has been a popular one over the last few years, civic impact will be the focus of this coming edition. Startup founders with an interest in driving civic engagement, public safety, or any idea that transforms or aides communities for the better are encouraged to participate.
And the timing is anything but accidental. “We chose civic impact as it is particularly relevant given the current political climate and outpouring of people asking how they can make a difference in the government and their communities,” Erica Soultanian, Organizer for Startup Weekend DC: Civic Impact Edition, told Technical.ly.
Soultanian also noted that D.C.’s proximity to the federal government and plethora of nonprofits makes the focus all the more worthwhile. “We hope to tap into this ecosystem and bring the community together to work on startups that will make a positive difference.” Soultanian said.