A new crop of startups emerged from Philly Startup Weekend 4.0
, held at University Of The Arts this past weekend, with some refreshingly accessible concepts. The winner, Voxx.io,
founded by visiting entrepreneur, Josh Hudnall, will use mobile technology to customize the music heard in bars, restaurants and coffee shops to the specific taste of their patrons. In second place, Feed Me, founded by Philly native and Startup Weekend newcomer, Jiate Zhang, proposes an AirBnB-type web platform that connects pizza-wary strangers with people who love to cook. Third place went to Dreamit Ventures
alum Michael Raber, for Boxly
, a spread-sheet based mobile app that will allow complex on-the-go data collection for both individual and group uses.
Forty-seven pitches, ranging from crowd sourced dental care to street parking aps, were narrowed down to 12 finalists, including a team of local high school students. Startup Weekend had fewer finalists than past startup weekends, but each team was larger with more diversified talent.
“Best bit of feedback I got was ‘This was the most communal startup weekend I’ve been to.’” says event organizer Chris Baglieri says. “I think that’s pretty rad.”
Of all the gifted teams, what determined the winners?
“You can connect with them, maybe a little more so than some of the others," says Baglieri. “Like Voxx.io. I mean you walk into the bars and you see these old jukebox CD things. Those are just kind of antiquated so you can see the appeal.”
In the final day, Feed Me pulled together it’s winning presentation without a programmer or designer and no workable demo. “I’ve worked for a couple of startups doing financial strategy so I’ve seen the full scope of ‘this is awesome, things are going well’ to ‘Oh my God, I think we might not exist anymore.’” Zhang says. “The thing about Sartup Weekend is it’s really effective at simulating those experiences within a day.”
Hot off the recent acquisition of his first start-up, UXFlip
, by appRenaissance
, Raber delivered again. He’s looking forward to building Boxly and bringing it to the app market. “I have this tablet and I have this Iphone and I’m carrying them everywhere and I’d rather carry that than my laptop,” Raber explains. “Yet it’s so difficult to get information into those devices. I probably have two dozen aps that deal with to-do list or organizing information. I started thinking how can we build a platform that enables people to do what you do on a spreadsheet? ”
Raber was accompanied by his 13 year-old partner and son, Zachary.
“It’s an interesting time to have kids. There’s so much going on in the world and things are changing so quickly, specifically in the technology area.” Raber says. “I like to joke around and say in another 10 years I’ll be working for his startup.”
As for Hudnall, Voxx.io is set to move forward after developing a solid team of six and making some vital connections. “We proved our concept,” Hudnall says. “The biggest thing we needed to know was that we could see a check-in, in real-time and that we could match it up with a musical profile.”
So will Hudnall, who is principal developer and founder of fastPXL
, move from Denver, Col., to Philly to realize his latest dream?
“I’m not ruling anything out.” Hudnall concedes. “Philly’s awesome.”
Source: Chris Baglieri, Philly Startup Weekend; Michael Raber, Voxx.io; Josh Hudnall, fastPXL
Writer: Dana Henry