In a large, open, light and airy concourse in the University of the Arts Corzo Center on South Broad, more than fifty people stared into computer screens and nodded silently to their team members seated around small tables.
It is 50 hours into Philadelphia Startup Weekend, a 54 hour networking event that brings together software developers, graphic designers and businessmen and women. While Start Up Weekend is first and foremost a networking event, attendees are also encouraged to build applications and websites in order to form a tool for the masses and in turn a credible business.
“This event is really about seeing smart people come together and create,” said Clint Nelson, a member of the judging panel, before teams presented their final products to a room of over a hundred attendees.
This past Friday, 48 people pitched their ideas and 19 of them were picked to proceed with their plan. Those 19 then teamed up with people of various skill sets in order to make a demo of their vision by Sunday night. For better than three hours, 16 teams that completed their websites and applications presented to a large crowd and panel of judges.
A variety of ideas were presented ranging from deal sites similar to Groupon and Living Social to a site where you can barter your own skills in order to learn new ones to a website that allows chefs and everyday people to post meals online for hungry folks to buy. Of all the work from the weekend, the judges picked three groups, all of which received a small amount of funding to continue their ideas and applications.
A prize of $2,500 was awarded to the creators of Git Hacking, a site that is basically a social layer on top of Git Hub. Git Hacking is an online repository for distributed development that caters to programmers and maintainers of projects.
The big sell of Git Hacking is that it catalogs user info from Git Hub, a site with already more than a million users. Git Hacking makes Git Hub more social in that it allows users to search for other people working on similar projects or by connecting people together by skill sets and areas of interest within the tech world.
Within an hour of launching, Git Hacking had 460 users and two hours later that number rose to over 700. No one could be more pleased than Josiah Kiehl, a member of the Git Hacking team.
Kiehl talked to Technically Philly, “When we came into this weekend we decided we wanted to do something fun, we weren’t really thinking business. The initial response in the hacker community is just overwhelming and totally fantastic.”
Second place was awarded to a site called LaunchRock, a website that builds hype around startups. LaunchRock gives creators of apps, mediums, and sites a space to create a buzz about these new ideas. Created by Philly Startup Leaders President Jameson Detweiler, Steve Gill, Dave Drager and Brian Stoner, LaunchRock already had over 600 sign-ups within a few hours of launching the site and caught TechCrunch coverage not long after.
Art Evolution took third place, a content creation platform for iPhones. Basically the application makes art based on a mathematical equation, so the possibilities for new works of art are endless. Organizers say the platform is named Art Evolution because the user can also merge two works of art together in order to create a hundred new pieces of artwork. The artwork can then be shared with other app users and also printed into skins for smart phones, laptops and even wall art. The creators also pointed out that this application has the ability to gather information about users’ art and visual preferences.
While sites ranged in content, one thing was consistent; this weekend was about meeting people and sharing ideas. For a first try, organizers billed the event as a success.
“This went unbelievably smooth,” said event organizer Brad Oyler. “So much so that in another six months there will probably be another Start Up Weekend.”