USC Startup Weekend | Complete Breakdown

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54 hours. 70+ students. 8 business ideas. One weekend we will never forget.

USC hosted its first Startup Weekend from September 23rd to 25th and it rocked! We had MBAs, undergrads, engineers, designers, and visitors from all throughout the LA tech scene participate in the event.

Hosted by the Marshall Business School and the Lloyd Grief Center for Entrepreneurship, the night kicked off at 6PM on Friday with food and some awesome speakers. First up was Andrew Skotzko, Director of Growth for Chill.com, who started the night with an attention grabbing introduction (a few F-bombs were dropped along the way) and was “the reason why I grew the balls to go and pitch an idea”, said one participant. Then we had the CMO of Startup Weekend, Joey Pomerenke, guide everyone through the Startup Weekend process and then we were off!

42 pitches (that’s right 42 out of 65 students pitched!!) later, 8 ideas came on top:

PitchSpark
We bring app ideas to life – in an engaging social community.

Lrning It
Synchronous video learning system. People who want to learn something connect with people that can teach them.

Neighborly
Time to get to know your neighbors by sharing goods.

Text To Get Her
A mobile and web platform that lets our users give and receive text messaging advice in a anonymous social community.

Network Now, Accelerating Conference Networking
A way for conference attendees to find and connect with each other.

GiftMunk.co
The Smart & Social Gift-Suggestion Engine

Lloyd Script
An interactive mobile app for script listening on-the-go.

Site Unseen
Site Unseen is a mobile app that serves as a personal tour guide for exploring a city.

Saturday doors opened at 8AM, and the teams were off again. At noon, Avesta Rasouli (Co-founder of Co-Loft) came in and gave an awesome talk about pitching and getting involved in the start-up community. Then fellow Trojan Alex Banayan gave a talk about the three traits of success in an entrepreneur. Feeling ever more inspired, the teams got right back to working on their products.

After eating rounds of delicious food (provided by Chewse.com), stressing out over pitches, non-stop coding, and listening to “The Final Countdown”, it was finally Sunday night. On our judging panel, we had Scott Sangster (Tech Coast Angels), Tyler Crowley (Mahalo), Pamela Coker (Daggerboard), Rick Citron (Citron & Deutsch Law Firm), and Dan Dato (Up.StartLA). First place winners received sessions with Dan, Rick, Amazon services, as well as Disneyland tickets!

At the beginning of the night, a couple of the organizers over the weekend worked on a site, StartupKoolaid.com, decided to pitch it as a joke to lighten the mood. Will Dennis, comedian extraordinaire, humored the crowd with a demo and a pitchdeck that poked fun at the tech start-up industry. It was a big hit and had everyone rolling on the floor laughing their buns off. Well, actually only the people who had been to Startup Weekend before were laughing. Everyone else in the crowd thought Will was being serious.

Anyway, then came the REAL demo pitches and after the final one, judges were off to deliberate.

Here’s who came out on top:

1st Place:

 

Site Unseen is a mobile app that serves as a personal tour guide for exploring a city.

2nd Place:

 

The Smart & Social Gift-Suggestion Engine

3rd Place:

 

We bring app ideas to life – in an engaging social community.

Site Unseen definitely wowed everyone with their live demo of their tour guide app that included augmented reality. So awesome that they built that in one weekend! Giftmunk had a slick UI and “is solving the exact problem I have”, said Scott Sangster during questioning. PitchSpark impressed the judges through their execution and even partnered up with DiMG.

Another must watch pitch of the night is Text It To Get Her, who had a hilarious intro. They managed to capture in 30 seconds the pain every pubescent college boy has when trying to text back a girl they like.

Overall it was a successful weekend and we are looking forward to having it at USC again. Considering that for this event, we had over 100 students on the waitlist, I’m sure the next USC Startup Weekend will be a huge hit.

One participant told me at the Traddies bar afterward, “This is going to sound cheesy, but this weekend changed my life.” Yes, it did sound a little cheesy, but what he said echoes how many others feel after being bit by the startup bug. And no one can ignore the itch once they’ve been bitten.

Below is the entire USC Startup Weekend Demo Night

Fei Xiao

Fei Xiao co-founded trueRSVP and co-writes a blog, twogirlsintech. She loves startups, technology, design, and music. Check out her portfolio at cargocollective.com/feixiao and follow her on Twitter

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  • Michael Gnanakone

    I wish I could have been a contestant!

  • How many USC startups have there been? 

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