Tauranga Startup Weekend smashes it out of the park once again

Tauranga has, for the fourth year in a row, held tech-focused Startup Weekend for entrepreneurs. Over 40 individuals participated in the event, pitching their ideas before coalescing into 8 teams to prepare and present their proposal to a panel of judges, all in just 54 hours.

This year’s winning team, FLNT (www.flnt.co), proposed an application to revolutionise employee engagement and spark employee innovation. Incredibly, within the space of the weekend FLNT signed up real clients to their beta-product, validating the potential value of their concept in the minds of the judges and solving a real business problem.

This year’s judges included Carl Jones, head of local innovation incubator WNT Ventures, Suse Reynolds of the Angel Association, Jodie Tipping from local firm Cucumber Media and Simon McDonald from Rhondium, a locally-based innovator in the global dental products market.  All four judges were glowing in their praise for the quality of this year’s pitches, with three teams narrowly missing out on first place and all coming in as joint runners up.

Aside from FLNT’s employee engagement app, the other ideas pitched included:

  • U! get off the couch’s app to help parents get their kids out of the house and active, by incentivising them with rewards and allocating pocket money to tasks
  • Flapp’s system for connecting backpackers, so they can enjoy experiences with like-minded travelers
  • Be there too’s (www.betheretoo.co)easy live streaming solution for large family events (they already have interest from customers)
  • Safe Out’s (www.safeout.co) smart emergency evacuation system (they already have interest from customers)
  • Happy Sprout’s kitchen garden starter kits
  • Arrive Social’s carpooling app for students
  • Tap’s social recruitment model that promises to revolutionise the way highly technical jobs are recruited, rewarding both the referrer and the successful applicant

A high-calibre group of mentors supported all the teams throughout the weekend, and with the pressure cooker environment created by a 54 hour event, their skills were frequently tested. The mentor group included both successful local people and those with specific skill sets from other areas of the country, including professional services, successful startup experience and technical expertise. The mentors’ role is to provide guidance and ensure the teams stayed focused, even as they were frequently forced to “pivot” in the face of weak consumer validation or an uneconomic financial model.

Held again at Basestation, the tech focused co-working space, Tauranga Startup Weekend was this year also part of the “Global Startup Battle”, with events running in more than 200 cities worldwide over the weekend.

Next year’s event is already confirmed for September 16-18 2016. Keep a look out for more information at: www.tauranga.startupweekend.nz.