Cramming the development of a smart, thoughtful minimum viable product
into a grueling 52-hour session requires the passion and stamina often associated with athletic competition. Fittingly, the team behind Slopes, a performance app for snowboarders and skiers, took a come-from-behind victory in the fifth Philly Startup Weekend
, held April 26-28 at Workbridge Associates
in Center City.
Curtis Herbert, developer and founder of Consumed by Code
, had been discussing the concept with fellow snowboarders since January. "When you're on the slopes, you want to track your stats," he explains. "How fast were you going? Were you going faster than your friend?"
Yet Slopes faced an uphill battle at the competition. During Friday's round -- when 50 presented and 110 participated – the concept did not receive enough votes to make it to the next round. After the setback, Herbert joined Tim Li, Jiate Zhang and Liwen Mao in a different team. The new collaboration eventually dropped their original pitch and chose to design Slopes instead. Their winning product is akin to Nike+
, using GPS-capacity to track individual stats including speed, distance and calories burned.
During Startup Weekend, the team established user needs, the back-end GPS-processing, and identified runs and ski lifts that affected the data. Their user interface garnered an impromptu award for "best design."
In second place was Adventures of Bob, a game that encourages kids to eat well by featuring a super hero who grows stronger through smart dietary decisions. DesignSync, the third place winner, helps graphic and user interface designers transfer work created with proprietary software (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign) to clients and teammates who don’t have those programs using Dropbox.
Organizers Chris Baglieri and Melissa Morris Ivone -- who have been with Philly Startup Weekend since the beginning -- said this event was marked by a growing comradery. When they needed to reconfigure the wifi, a sponsor picked up the tab; when they ran out of beer, an organizer made an emergency trip. In the final hours, when most participants were operating on red bull, beer and sheer will, teams tweeted messages of support for one another.
"You see some of the turmoil a team goes through," says Baglieri. "Then you see them present, and you’re like, ‘Oh, you guys are all over this,’ but 12 hours ago, they were freaking out."
Curtis Herbert, Team Slopes; Chris Baglieri and Melissa Morris Ivone, Philly Startup Weekend