Startup Weekend Brings Out Hot Business Ideas

The 2019 Startup Weekend first-prize winners Smallscale OA are flanked by judges and event lead organizer Navjot Brar, second from right.

Steam seemed to be rising from the second floor of the Paseo Nuevo mall building that houses workzones, which hosted Santa Barbara Startup Weekend Nov. 8 to 10. 

Maybe it was the flurry of new business enterprises brainstormed to a fine edge by teams of entrepreneurs who researched and pitched ideas all weekend while munching on pizza and sandwiches and guzzling coffee, Yerba Mate and Red Bull. 

More likely it was the lack of air conditioning in the building on Saturday as the outside temperature rose into the mid-80s and most of the workzones windows had to be opened. Some 60 participants registered for this year’s “Shark Tank-like” competition.

When the dust settled and a three-judge a panel chose the trio of top teams as prize winners. 

An enterprise called Small Scale OA took the top honor. The idea of the business is to provide interested parties, such as fishermen, with a supply of trusted, accurate data about ocean conditions.

Second- and third-place winners were Bridge Community and We Cook, respectively.

Lead organizer Navjot Brar, who has put together 20 Startup Weekends over the years, said this could be his last, but he still plans to be involved in the program to some degree. 

The 2019 Startup Weekend was full of spirited business pitches with creative ideas that volunteer mentors helped refine. 

Judges asked if participants answered a series of questions, such as: Does the solution solve a core need? Is the way they’ll make money viable and unique? Have they demonstrated a go to market strategy? 

Some team members stayed up as late as midnight Saturday trying to nail down the answers. 

The Startup Weekend brand was bought by Techstars several years ago. Startup Weekends are held around the world. 

In the Santa Barbara area, Startup Weekends have been held since 2009 at such venues at the former Synergy Business & Technology Center near East Beach, UC Santa Barbara and Citrix in Goleta, the Sandbox and what used to be called Impact Hub downtown. 

Workzones first hosted a Startup Weekend several years ago.

Posted Nov. 11, 2019.

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