Startup weekend round 2 did not go quite as well as we had hoped. There certainly was a lot more competition in New Orleans and a lot more talent. Having said that, our feedback after not placing was somewhat inconsistent and we got different answers from the judges and coordinators. We felt like we addressed all the aspects of the competition that the judges are concerned with: customer validation, monetization, etc. However, it did not work out, and we are ok with that.
We showed up Friday night to the event and it was immediately evident that this would be a much larger and more significant event than SW Biloxi. At the time we showed up, there were already the same amount of people that had competed in Biloxi, and we were an hour early! We grabbed some dinner and explored the Propeller Incubator, our workspace for the weekend. It was clearly brand new and very well designed. There would be plenty of work space and we quickly grabbed a table for our team and got set up. Unfortunately, we would find later that there would be no work time until late that night, at which point we chose to begin the heavily lifting Saturday morning.
By the time we got started, the crowd had grown to over 100 people and we were ready for the competition. After approximately 30 pitches, the teams were narrowed down to 7 or 8 “popular” pitches, one of which was Giglines. We did some recruiting but did not find anyone that we felt would truly help in our goals for the weekend. We brought 2 experienced and fantastic designers, Jason and Steven, who over the weekend, validated how awesome they are. We also brought 2 developers in addition to Eric, Tyler and Biju, who were added to the team for their specific skillsets. Our team was not too big, not too small, but just the perfect size. We headed out for the night, ready to hit the ground running Saturday morning.
We rolled in Saturday morning to a surprisingly empty workspace, so we secured our spot and got to work. After about 30 minutes, Eric had his design and development team tasked and diving into their tasks for the weekend. Slowly the crowd trickled in by around lunch time. Jordan and I worked on the presentation, creating a brand new prezi from the last SW presentation. We bought a brilliant and beautiful design prezi and after realizing I was impeding her progress by working on it with her, I decided to let her work on it without me, and it paid off. By the end of the day the presentation looked beautiful and had that wow factor that we felt might sway the judges if it came down to us and another team with everything tied.
Eric’s development and design guys hacked out designs and code all day and by 9PM we were all burnt out. We went out for the night down to the French Quarter, it would be wrong not to right?! We of course hit up Café DuMonde for some beignets and coffee. Then strolled down to bourbon street for some hand grenades and of course entertainment. Jordan took a slight detour on our way to Bourbon street and we all learned a little something about Palm Reading and Tarot Card reading; what an educational trip! We of course couldn’t stay out too late, having so much work to do the final day. We called it a night around 1230 and headed back to the hotel.
Sunday we were up and back at it by 9AM, again a little surprised by the empty incubator, but as with the day before, it slowly filled up by lunch time. Jordan finished up with the presentation and began reviewing our business plan, with which she eventually completely rewrote! I began to review what the designers had been working on with regards to site design and uniforms and was blown away. The uniforms looked exactly as they needed to and the site design was incorporating all the aspects it needed to as well. Steven found images for us to use with the uniforms, rather than having to recreate them and Jason continually designed fantastic looking uniforms. We decided the logo that Jason had created at our Hackathon would be our new confirmed logo…and it was perfect.
I became a little more tense that I had planned leading up to the presentation as we were working up to the very last second. Jessica organized the business plans, with every aspect we needed for the judges to see while Eric coordinated the site compilation so we had as much of a working product as we could achieve. By presentation time, I was rehearsed, the business plan was printed and ready to go, and Eric created a 90 second video for the end of our presentation to show the judges how the site worked.
Somehow the presentation went extremely well, at least I thought so, judge for yourself, we posted the video on YouTube here! Like I foreshadowed in the beginning of this article, we did not win, nor did we even place. It was extremely discouraging, however we soon realized we accomplished a lot of work and were WAY ahead of where we were Friday night. Winning would have been great, but it wasn’t our goal for the weekend. Our goal had been to get us one giant step closer towards a final product and we definitely did that. We now felt that the team we had, was the team we would need to turn Giglines into an absolute success: Eric, Jessica, Tyler, Jason, Biju, Steven, Jordan and me.