The judges had finally made up their minds, emerging single-file from the oak doors of one of the College of the Canyons University Center’s lecture halls, scoring sheets in hand, ready to anoint a new entrepreneurial champion.
Contestants held their breaths and the crowd hushed as host Wyatt Thompson took the stage, thanked the judges and began.
This was the scene at the fifth annual SCV Startup Weekend at College of the Canyons. Over the course of 54 hours, starting Friday afternoon and concluding Sunday evening, groups of complete strangers assembled themselves into teams of approximately 10 members and researched, developed and pitched an entrepreneurial venture to a panel of local judges.
“(Contestants) formed teams and they worked on validating that business model,” said Thompson, lead organizer of Startup Weekend SCV. “They’re competing for cash, three months free office space, a sit down with the Pasadena Angels, as well as a free digital marketing consultation by Gem Digital Agency.”
After tireless hours spent working and reworking their ventures, teams filed into the lecture hall to make their potentially life-changing pitches.
“It’s sort of like ‘Shark Tank,’” Thompson said, referencing the popular reality television show centered on startups.
The first team to present was Papa Slice, pitching an improved mechanism to slice and dice potatoes.
“We built this this weekend,” the team members noted in their pitch. “This did not exist 12 hours ago.”
Next up was Park Shark. Designed by college students, Park Shark aimed to crowdsource parking requirements, much like Waze does with traffic conditions, so that Los Angeles residents can avoid parking tickets.
Texture Fidget took the stage next. The startup hoped to create an alternative to the fidget spinner that helped autistic individuals focus without the use of moving parts.
Eras Noel III then addressed the room, showing off his concept, Athletic Interpretations, which was able to fit a microchip into a speed punching bag to give boxers real-time data about the strength and cadence of their punches.
A group of local high school students presented “Resonance,” the concept behind a fantasy video game they devised.
Lastly was Coeur, which developed an app to synchronize interfaces across a number of consumer platforms.
After hours of emotional and intellectual toil, Thompson finally gave participants what they had anticipated all weekend — a winner.
“It’s Park Shark,” he yelled, being met with a roar of applause.
Texture Fidget took second place, and Athletic Interpretations took bronze.
“We’re getting people to try new things, validate new business models,” Thompson said, “and interact with the community.”