Pitch to Perfect

Have you ever had an idea and thought it could be the next craze? Maybe something you found necessary, like a new way to clean a pool?  Or what about a better solution to the misfires on the sensors used in those annoying automatic flushing toilets?  This year’s Startup Weekend participants considered these and more.

Sixty eager entrepreneurs arrived on Friday evening to pitch their idea. Event Facilitator, Corey Smith, conducted the selection process trimming the pitches down to six. Teams formed, and the organizers had the area’s best business mentors and coaches on hand to offer all the business consulting the teams required. 
​On Saturday teams scurried around conducting research, validating their ideas, testing their concepts, huddling together in various spots throughout the Advanced Technology Center at Gulf Coast State College. Teams worked diligently to create prototypes, analyze costs and further develop their business plans. Jim Riley, a business consultant with the Veterans Business Outreach Center and Jayme Thomas, co-founder of  Visual Goodness coached teams throughout the weekend. Holly Pituch, marketing manager at SweetBay Development along with Chris Josten and his team from Curiosity Marketing Group consulted the participants on their design work and marketing plans. Team leader of the Incore Rock Climbing gym concept, Alexis Wicker said that “Jayme Thomas saved the day by helping her with the cost for their first-year projections.” 

Saturday afternoon teams took a break from the product development and enjoyed walking through the Student Market Place – an added event that showcased the start-up businesses of elementary students from  Rising Leaders Academy. The students sold their self-made wares earning real money to the real world.  This year, Rising Leaders Academy made it their goal to prepare students to be successful in the 21st-century workplace by turning the entire school into a flourishing real world micro-society.

The Enactus GCSC Team and Ripples of Change Club shared their current project with the visitors. Their projects focuses on social entrepreneurship called the Tiny Pod Community. 
Sunday evening the Startup Weekend participants made final preparations for team pitches to the judges. 

In the end, they gave a five-minute presentation with hopes of winning one of the original designs of the 2017 trophies furnished by Gulf Coast State College and their FABLAB. The top three teams also won a collection of prizes valued close to 4,000 dollars.   Congratulations to this year’s winning teams: 1st Place- Safe-Flush, 2nd Place- Clean Pool Pal and 3rd Place- Disaster Relief Unit.  
​The entire event would not have been possible without the following sponsors: