(Photo via Mona Parikh)
Brianna Bannach had her grandmother on the mind during Startup Weekend.
At the weekend-long startup hackathon, the University of Delaware freshman created a business idea that would design a cushion for bed- or chair-bound people that would prevent bedsores by having remote-controlled air pockets that adjust frequently, or whenever the user presses a button on their phone.
“My mom-mom has Parkinson’s, and I’ve watched her struggle with not being comfortable for long periods of time because she has to wait for people to adjust her, and the process is painful, so the idea stemmed from helping her,” said Bannach.
Bannach’s team, Custom Cushion, won first place.
Starting Friday afternoon, contestants in this year’s Startup Weekend developed their business plans, hoping to be one of the three teams to win the contest that was kicking off Delaware Innovation Week 2016. Six teams, each with a different proposition, came together Sunday night for final judgment on their presentation, their idea, the effectiveness of the plan and the reality of their proposed solution. The event was organized by Mona Parikh of the University of Delaware’s Horn Program for Entrepreneurship, and judges included Zip Code Wilmington’s Tariq Hook and Vice President Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley Biden.
— Startup Weekend DE (@SWDelaware) November 13, 2016
Some team projects included a downloadable software with a hard drive backup that would release a very quiet hum so that corporations would not worry about being spied on. Another idea was a group named #HashIt, whose proposed software would give small businesses the most relevant and attention-grabbing hashtags in social media.
Of all the groups, three winners went home Sunday night with awards, including a mentorship with startup accelerator TechStars to help promote their business plan and website.
The second prize winners were a group of people who created a website, Thimble, that would connect tailors and clothing designers with people who were looking to have their wardrobes adjusted and clothing altered to fit better.
Team member Rita Chang, a UD grad and current Wharton MBA, said that she herself experienced the difficulties of not being able to find or afford a tailor, so altering clothes she loves to fit her better has been a hassle.
The third place winners were a business called FundingFuel. This business was described as a way to “connect investors with franchises.”
Investor Pedro Moore, a group member for FundingFuel, explained that his idea was designed to be an online marketplace to allow people to start or grow their franchise.
“We connect them with investors because [franchise owners] are your everyday person, and they normally don’t have access to a higher investment opportunity,” said Moore.
The three groups agreed that they will all be continuing with their projects, many of them saying that they hope to grow nationally and possibly internationally, like Moore.
“There’s a lot of people in the world who want to invest but do not have the means,” he said. “I want to be a nationwide, maybe even a global enterprise, because there’s a lot of people who experience this same problem.”