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Who won big at Startup Weekend Lancaster?

Startup Weekend Lancaster
Startup Weekend Lancaster
RideShotty, a ride-sharing app for college students that connects drivers with passengers who need transportation, won first place at Startup Weekend Lancaster's presentation night.

Second prize went to Trackmylessons.org, a tool for teachers to track their progress and manage compliance with state standards; third prize went to Getaway Hero, a website offering customized travel arrangements based on the customer's personality and interests.

Startup Weekend Lancaster, held last weekend in the heart of downtown Lancaster, attracted a small but vibrant number of would-be entrepreneurs. With only four teams presenting on Sunday evening, there was more time than usual for the four judges to give valuable individual feedback to each team before the winners were announced.

The 30 participants all fit into one large room in the Southern Market Center, home to the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Assets Lancaster, which provides business support services.

"In this space, we're with people who care about economic development," said organizer Ben Donahower.

Assets Lancaster was joined by Listrak, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Netrepid, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, loggr, Harbor Business Compliance, PickFu and Blinkist in providing support for the event, and merchandise and services for the winners.

The RideShotty team, led by Bryan Speece, presented first. (The original pitch on Friday night was given by Marie Loiseau of Carlisle, Pa.; she was unfortunately called away because of a death in her family.) Speece was part of the winning team in last year's Harrisburg Startup Weekend; he is still involved in that project, DateMyApartment. He said he will probably not continue to work on RideShotty; the other team members are planning to pursue it.

In their feedback, the judges raised the issues of security and an increasingly crowded market, but awarded the team first place based on their excellent presentation and design.

Heather Lister, the team leader of Trackmylessons.org, is a school librarian who also teaches research and other skills in the Hempfield School District. She plans to pursue her startup -- methods for keeping track of Common Core Standards and providing data on teacher effectiveness do not exist.

"We need numbers and hard data," she said in her presentation. "This saves time and makes life easier."

The judges agreed that her presentation was compelling and that her idea was viable.

Jon Pombo, the team leader for Getaway Hero, said he, too, would continue to refine the startup's bedrock idea. Getaway Hero addresses two pain points for the travel consumer: the extensive time it takes to plan and book a trip, and the fact that many people want to begin with activities or interests rather than the destination.

After the user fills out a questionnaire, the company suggests destinations and itineraries, and also does the booking.

The fourth team, led by Nate Bomberger, presented a mobile app called SpeYou (pronounced "spew"), which allows users to post anonymously and run filtered reports.

Judges for Startup Weekend Lancaster included Charlie Crystle, who has started and led four tech companies, including ChiliSoft and Mission Research (he also founded Startup Lancaster); Chuck Russell, co-founder and senior partner of Collective Intelligence Inc. in Harrisburg; Oliver Feakins, CEO of Web Talent Marketing in Lancaster; and Kyle Sollenberger, co-founder of Everlaps, Seesaw and CoTweet, and VP of User Experience at Byliner.

Judging was based on each team's business model, execution and user experience.

Sam Coyle, CEO of Netrepid and one of the coaches for Startup Weekend Lancaster, said he was impressed with the quality of the work done in just 54 hours.

"They needed help with the business part of the process," he said, but the tech and design credentials were impeccable.


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