Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement that empowers entrepreneurs to dive into their ideas on a Friday and leave Sunday with a finished product. — Photo by Maggie Kaiserman

Lexi Scott

Ambitious ideas became tangible realities this weekend.

Hosted by Cal Poly, Startup Weekend SLO is an entrepreneurial event where members pitch business ideas Friday, develop them Saturday and present the finished products by Sunday evening.

The global grassroots movement is an interdisciplinary collaboration of students and people in the community, event organizer and recreation, parks and tourism administration senior Eric Duarte said. The small groups have just 54 hours to create a business model, the coding and designing, while also getting market validation for startup ideas.

“All you need is people, whiteboards, some computers and some time to make it happen,” Duarte said.

The ad hoc startup companies varied from mobile apps for travel pics, political trends, selling things, rating anything, or finding the best seats at an event, to websites that connects religious leaders to churches, local farmers to consumers and borrowing and lending among friends.

Computer science senior Sunjay Dhama fostered an idea for an app which can predict stock trends through Twitter. Dhama was inspired by a friend who works at Netflix, he said. The company is already using twitter to find out if a part of the system is down.

When Mustang Daily spoke with Dhama and his team – compiled of economics senior Dallas Brown and Systems and Marketing Solutions CEO Bob Dumouchel – the group had a better grasp of how the app would run but still unsure of the name.

Basically, their idea is to extrapolate a tweet to find a positive or negative sentiment toward a particular stock. They use Twitter’s API integration program to assign keywords for different moods and then behavioral economics comes into play.

“Understanding the English language is not easy especially when it’s encrypted in 140 characters,” Dumouchel said.

Another group of the weekend came in with an idea to make anyone with a smartphone a superhero for the day.

Send out a stress signal with this mobile app and be rescued by someone in the community – theme song and all. “Superheroes everywhere” aims to turn social good into a competition. The more good deeds someone does the more points they receive, engineer management and statistics graduate student of California State University, East Bay Jerry Chang said.

“Rather than companies making softball teams and competing with each other they can compete by doing good for the community,” he said.

The point of Startup Weekend is not necessarily to end the weekend with a business or project, but rather for its members to understand their strengths and weaknesses and the process of producing something, innovations and new initiatives lead for Startup Weekend, organizer Joey Aquino said.

Aquino first worked with Startup Weekend as an organizer and now he journeys around the world to find like-minded people in the 108 countries in which the non-profit operates.

“I’ve been to a handful of places and culturally its so different,” Aquino said. “But you get everyone together for Startup Weekend and there is a common theme of passion and hope.”

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