What did you do this weekend?

November 21, 2011
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Weekends never seem long enough for all the chores—and let’s be honest, naps—we don’t have time for during the week. Imagine launching a business in the same 54 hours.

Seven teams of enterprising entrepreneurs did just that during the just-wrapped Startup Weekend Indianapolis. The teams pitched their plans to a panel of five judges, and the winning concept will compete against other winners in a global startup battle online. More than 30 cities worldwide hosted events this weekend.

The three-day local competition, held at the Purdue Technology Center near Indianapolis International Airport, attracted dozens of participants who organized themselves into teams after hearing each other’s ideas. Then the work began.

Technology was a common theme among the projects, but winner Awesome Controller took an admittedly old-school approach.

"We're a retro company and we have a retro business model,” team spokesman Kyle Shipley said during the final presentations Sunday. “We make a product, we sell it and people pay us money.”

The product: an adapter that allows video gamers to use modern Bluetooth-enabled controllers—think Nintendo’s Wiimotes—to play vintage game systems like Sega Genesis.

The six-member team promoted its hardware using social media over the weekend and set up an online landing page to gauge consumers’ interest. About half of the gamers who found their way to AwesomeController.com provided an e-mail address to get more information, Shipley said.

A 60-second video explaining Awesome Controller’s product was taped immediately after the event, and it will be posted at www.startupweekend.org along with other winners competing in the global battle.

Other local contenders were:

— SponsorProof, a service that manages, tracks and reports on corporate event sponsorships.
— Owambe, a private social network tied to live events.
— VenuHound, a service that connects small events and undiscovered venues.
— KidPal, a service that provides parents with aggregated data from their kids’ schools.
— Serve Creatively, a service that bring relevant volunteer opportunities to the creative class.
— Readious, a personalized online content aggregator.  

(Click here to watch the final pitches and other videos from the weekend.)

If recent history is any indicator, some of the teams will keep working on their projects and eventually introduce them to the marketplace. But others won’t.

Organizers say the idea is to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in central Indiana. Critics question whether it's even feasible for a real enterprise to emerge from Startup Weekend.

What do you think? If you’ve participated in Startup Weekend, what did you take away from the experience? If you haven't attended, why not?
 

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