Local business

Cal Poly sophomore wins Startup Weekend SLO

Tech conference attracts budding entrepreneurs

jlynem@thetribunenews.comJanuary 30, 2013 


A second-year Cal Poly student and his team were winners at Startup Weekend SLO, an event that gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their ideas, test and launch their firms, all in more than 54 hours.

Drew Troxell and his teammates won with their startup, Just 4 You. The team created a heat map using crowd sourcing for baseball games, and then worked with mentors throughout last weekend to build a tool that uses the crowd source data, which ultimately allows spectators at events to find the best places to sit. It’s similar to applications like airplane guru, which helps airline passengers figure out the best seats on an aircraft, said Kristin Kenney, the event’s co-organizer with fellow student Eric Duarte.

“I think there are a lot of applications for this, and this is why the judges really liked it,” Kenney said. “It’s just really cool showing what this technology will really do.”

The winning team now has an opportunity to participate in the Kauffman FastTrac Tech Venture program, a national learning program for entrepreneurs. The program helps propel businesses forward by offering marketing, financing and other resources geared toward technology companies. Winners also received a two-month pass to work at the SLO Hothouse Downtown Accelerator, which provides tools to help startups.

The event, supported by Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and sponsored by iFixit, Softec, Experts Exchange and Guayaki, had 81 participants and 13 teams, Kenney said. Participants pitched ideas that ranged from a small helicopter outfitted with a camera that can do low-cost aerial photography to a service that allows people to order farmers market items and have them delivered.

Darcie Fulkerson, a 1998 Cal Poly graduate, graphic designer and web designer, attended the event, pitching ShopFetch, which provides instant in-stock notifications for any product on any website. She received feedback on the project, but she was unable to find developers to work with. So, she joined a team that worked on AdventureMate, a social travel journal.

“Startup Weekends in general have been some of the most exhausting, but also the most exhilarating events that I’ve ever attended, and Startup Weekend SLO was no different,” said Fulkerson. “It was a crazy 54 hours of brainstorming, collaboration and hard work. The ideas that come out of an event like this seem to inspire everyone involved, and it’s great to meet so many creative and determined entrepreneurs of all ages and backgrounds.”



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