All eyes will be on a half-dozen winning ideas to see if the entrepreneurs behind those plans can get their businesses started.
Innovate Mississippi held Startup Weekend Jackson May 16-18 at Millsaps College.
Startup Weekend is an intense 54-hour event powered by Google for Entrepreneurs that operates worldwide and provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to pitch early-stage innovative business concepts.
Teams, which are comprised of entrepreneurs, programmers, developers, graphic artists and business-minded people, spend the weekend developing a proof of concept, demo or finished product with mentors on hand to help fine-tune the idea into a “working company” with potential profits. A panel of seasoned professionals evaluates and judges each group’s company and their chances of real-world success. The event concludes with an awards ceremony where the top three teams receive in-kind prizes from local sponsors and service providers.
“This was probably the most successful Startup Weekend we’ve ever hosted,” said Tony Jeff, president and CEO of Innovate Mississippi. “All teams from top to bottom made great progress and can no doubt be successful if they continue to work the plans they put in place.”
On the first night, 16 ideas were pitched. Teams were formed around the top six ideas, company creation began and Sunday night, those six teams presented before the panel of judges.
The first place winner of Startup Weekend Jackson was MS Genomics, which brings genomic testing (testing of cancerous tumors) to the masses by utilizing cloud-based technology. Second place winner was MyCodey, an app that provides personal medical records and histories in a simple avatar interface. Third place went to Nomna, an app-based interface that connects food lovers with locally-grown produce and “foodies” who share menus and comments about local restaurants.
“In 54 hours, an entrepreneur can go from an idea to a fully developed plan,” said Bruce Deer, chief administrative officer of Spread Networks and Startup Weekend Jackson judge. “There is also cooperative effort among the participants they might not have had before the weekend. As a judge, it’s enjoyable to see their passion and to see them have an opportunity over a weekend to do something with it.”
Tammie Brewer, Mississippi DECA coordinator/state advisor, and Tim Mask, vice president of brand planning and development with Maris, West & Baker Advertising, also served as judges.
Other ideas developed throughout the course of the weekend included a crowdfunding program to finance medical procedures through direct payment to providers, a roadside assistance app, and a website and app that connects college students to available jobs in their area.
Winning teams will receive legal, accounting, marketing and other professional in-kind services. All presenting teams received free web hosting and a variety of other professional services, plus an invitation to compete in Innovate Mississippi’s 7th Annual Mississippi New Venture Challenge business plan competition June 3 in Jackson.
All Startup Weekend Mississippi events are organized by the employees of Innovate Mississippi.