Startup Weekend Starkville event creates seven new companies in only 54 hours

> Innovate Mississippi held Startup Weekend Starkville November 14-16, 2014, on the campus of Mississippi State University (MSU). 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. Mentors are on hand to help fine-tune the ideas into “working companies” with potential profits, and a panel of seasoned professionals evaluates and judges each group’s company and their chances of real-world success.
>
> On the first night of Startup Weekend Starkville, 17 ideas were pitched. Teams were formed around the top seven ideas and company creation began. Sunday night, those seven teams presented before the panel of judges.
>
> “This was an impressive group,” said Tony Jeff, president and CEO of Innovate Mississippi. “Nearly half the group pitched ideas of their own, and even after some of the presented ideas weren’t chosen, those presenters still enthusiastically joining the other teams – working hard all weekend.”
>
> The first place winner of Startup Weekend Starkville was College Fit, a social network that combines fitness and academic goals. The user can access workout and nutrition plans, fitness schedules and fitness events as well as tutoring opportunities, academic events and more with the added benefit of connecting with workout or study partners. Their First place prize package included a licensing assessment from Edison Nation, legal assistance from Freeland and Freeland Law Firm in Oxford, web hosting from Red Laser Technology in Jackson, social media consulting from SociallyIn in Starkville, incubator space through the MSU Entrepreneurship Center and spa treatments at Vitality Spa in Starkville.
>
> “Startup Weekend was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of,” said Alexis Waarich of College Fit. “We were put into a very high intensity situation where we had to produce a startup business in just a weekend. It showed us that anything was possible when the right team was put together working toward a common goal.”
>
> Second place was awarded to DreamDry, a product that will use built-in heated air vents to combine the shower with the drying process, helping eliminate laundry waste in hotels and the home. They received in-kind service-based prizes to further their business.
> Third place was awarded to S.E.M.A., a product that serves as a catching agent for waste oil and other chemicals that often spill under large trucks. They received in-kind service-based prizes to further their business.
>
> Other ideas developed throughout the course of the weekend included a mobile fashion boutique, a personal package-tracking device, a nicotine-free cigarillo that utilizes tea leaves instead of tobacco, and an app that lists problems needed solving that entrepreneurs can browse for business and product ideas.
>
> Judges for the weekend included Boyce Adams of BankTEL in Columbus, Chris Ewing of Ewing Kessler in Jackson, Martin Jue of MFJ Enterprises in Starkville and Gregg Rader of Columbus Recycling in Columbus. Mentors included Lucy Betcher, who is retired from the Mississippi University for Women (MUW) in Columbus; Tony Jeff of Innovate Mississippi in Ridgeland; Josh Mabus of the Mabus Agency in Tupelo; David Null of Camgian Microsystems in Starkville; Chuck Rivenburgh a business coach with MUW’s Center for Creative Entrepreneurship; Debbie Scott of the Small Business Development Center in Starkville; Abby Thompson of Camgian; and Bubba Weir of Innovate Mississippi.
>
> “Innovate Mississippi is one of the most active entities in promoting entrepreneurship in the Southeast,” said mentor Josh Mabus of the Mabus Agency. “By bringing Startup Weekend to our state, Innovate Mississippi continues to spur economic growth through entrepreneurial encouragement. This event brings out the best and brightest to create businesses that truly don’t exist in the world. This entrepreneurial spark draws me to each new Startup Weekend event – to mentor these bright spirits and to learn a bit myself.”
>
> All Startup Weekend Mississippi events are organized by the employees of Innovate Mississippi. This event was funded in part by a grant from the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Program through Mississippi State University.
>