Buffalo startup weekend helps businesses get off the ground and spurs innovation in the community

The organizers of this year's eighth annual Buffalo Startup Weekend had a vision to extend the momentum created during the 54-hour business plan competition beyond the weekend. So when 150 people showed up at UB’s Hayes Hall Sept. 14-16, there was excitement in the air.

Attendees pitched their ideas or listened to others before voting on the most interesting ones and forming teams with diverse skill sets to create prototypes. At the end of the weekend, three winners were chosen and given tools including top business books, coaching, workspace, dinner with the coach, legal and accounting services, company signage, and pitch deck.

And the winners are:

First place: T.I.L.T. (This is like that).

The team was led by Dan Gigante, partner in the marketing agency 19 Ideas, and Peter Cimino, owner of Buffalo Perspective, a drone photography and videography company, and supported by high school senior Nick Cimino and UB student Luke Jezioro.

The concept is a platform similar to YELP, but to recommend experiences in one city that are similar to those in another; for example “Like Anchor Bar in San Diego.”

The idea stemmed from Dan’s travel experiences, when he found himself in new cities looking for familiar places.

Second place: Quic

The team was led by electrical engineer George Beckstein; UB graduate and mechanical engineer Anthony Olivett; freelance UX designer Stephen Petoniak; and UB student Manvijay Lather, a front-end developer.

Quic is a solar-powered device that gives turn-by-turn directions and is ideal for hands-free driving, biking, or boating. The idea stemmed from a concern about distracted drivers.

Third place: Uncoded

Uncoded had the most diverse team, with three Buffalonians who left the area and returned to a better Buffalo: Krista Marcucci, a recruiter turned blockchain marketer; Michael Spence, a technology and sales consultant; and Kirsten Campana, a marketer who moved back to Buffalo from Silicon Valley. The team also included finance professional Vin Panley; attorney Joe Trapp; and local painting contractor and former real estate broker Tim McSweeney.

Uncoded is a training solution to bridge the talent and skills gap of coders in response to the shortage of senior developers in the US and the lack of soft skills and English proficiency in technical professions

The in-person education model pairs senior developers with English-as-a-Second-Language and junior developers. The two-way learning model provides coding skills, English immersion, and communication skills through teaching, coaching, and project-based work.

Regardless of the market success of these business ideas, Startup Weekend provides opportunities to learn, network, and develop go-to market plans, fostering innovative energy in the community.

Read more articles by Michael Spence.

Michael Spence is a speaker, trainer, and business consultant focused on people, performance, and profits. He learned much of what he knows about business and technology by leading a young telecom sales organization to 400% growth and being listed on the Inc 500; everything else he picks up from interviews with business leaders and influencers. Sharing his lessons, Mike trains organizations on managing a multigenerational workforce, soft skills, and sales enablement. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mwspence
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