No Talk, All Action – here are the winning projects from Startup Weekend Toruń
From simple mobile applications, through a game that uses 3D printing, to communication tools for people with disabilities – these were the very different projects presented at the last Startup Weekend in Toruń, which took place on 15-17 May in the Toruń Technology Park
The global event called Startup Weekend arrived in two Polish cities simultaneously – for the third time in Krakow, and the second time in Toruń. In each case the principle was the same: developers, designers, marketers, product managers and start-up enthusiasts had 54 hours to share and convince others of their idea, form a team and launch a start-up.
Toruń offered the attendees a thematic event – most of all they were looking for projects related to Big Data. Almost 140 people, not only from Toruń but also from Olsztyn, Poznań, Warsaw, Łódź and abroad, came to the Toruń Technology Park in search of new business ideas. At Friday’s pitching session, 26 people presented their best ideas and tried to inspire others to join their team. As a result, 15 teams were formed and 14 were ready to present their product in front of judges on Sunday evening.
Startup Weekend is always a great opportunity to meet new, inspiring people. The organizers always try to provide the perfect environment for networking - there is time to work (even the whole night), to relax (with game consoles and a DJ) and eat (what start-ups like the most: burgers and pizza). They also provide the support of mentors. In Toruń there were representatives of Microsoft, IBM, Allegro and several investment funds and, thanks to their cooperation with three other Startup Weekends (Krakow, Sacramento and Islamabad), attendees had a chance to listen to the advice of mentors from other countries.
And the ideas themselves were sometimes surprising. It’s worth mentioning Tag&Frag – a paintball-like game using 3D printed guns that emit a laser beam the sensors placed on a player’s head can react to.
As one of the mentors, Artur Jabłoński, said: “This is the second edition of Startup Weekend Toruń and the second time I have had an opportunity to observe the emerging projects. I must say that this year's edition presented a higher level and this is a clear sign that the local start-up scene is growing. You can also see that the project creators’ level of awareness of business tools is higher, which resulted in more interesting and more well-designed projects. Even such entertaining ideas as the HelpZ application, whose aim is to provide the tools needed to survive a zombie attack, is in fact a serious proposition for American first responders, whose activities could be extended to all disasters. There were also socially useful projects that I particularly like, for example, EyeCanType – an application that allows people with disabilities to write on the screen through the movement of the eyeball”.
In the end, two projects were awarded - LeadCall, which was the jury choice and EyeCanType - the audience prize and the prize for best pitch.
The LeadCall team developed a website that will facilitate marketing campaigns. It is designed for two groups. The first is companies that want to reach customers through telemarketing. The second group is telemarketers who are looking for a job. LeadCall allows both groups to cooperate. The telemarketers work at home with flexible hours, and the company does not have to create a separate call center department. The winners received a Kindle from Allegro.
The second team, EyeCanType, invented a prototype of a service that facilitates communication for those with disabilities. Their eye movements translate to letters on a computer screen, allowing them to type virtually. For their application, the team members received powerbanks sponsored by the Toruń Technology Park, and for the best pitch they got a Nokia Lumia 1030 from Microsoft.
“At first I treated this event only as a good start for people who just want to begin their adventure with a start-up or establish new contacts and exchange experiences,” sums up one of the judges, Łukasz Ozimek, head of Smart Space. “Of course, in this regard, nothing has changed, but the results show that Startup Weekend is also an event that can initiate the formation of a real company. An example of this is one of the projects - Slidetorial - that was formed at last year's edition of Startup Weekend Toruń and today is a registered company that operates in the Smart Space incubator, has attracted investment and is still developing its product. This year's edition also surprised me with projects that solve real problems and thus can have a successful business. On the basis of their experience, we initially verify the chances of success of a project; the ideas presented at such events are worthy of attention, but the real performance and the further determination of the team is the key to introducing a product or service to the market, which will verify their success in a very short time.”
We can only wish the winning teams such determination and hope that we will hear about their successes in the near future.
Got any questions? Send an e-mail to the author