Did you have fun this weekend? Did you relax in the garden with family and friends. Was Friday a boozy night on the town? Did you play videogames in your pants all day on Sunday?
Spare a thought, then, for the people who attended Startup Weekend Johannesburg over the last three days. Because they have done nothing but work 14 hour-long stretches since first thing on Friday until last thing on Sunday – and they paid for the privilege to do it too.
Fuelled – apparently – by pizza and wine, the group of start-up veterans, corporate employees and developers were mentored by knowledgeable business vets, came up with ideas for new companies and developed prototypes and pitches all within a 51 hour time frame. They formed teams, they thrashed out ideas, they mocked up apps and they did cursory market research – then, at the end, they pitched their ideas to a panel of judges to be told they’d completely wasted their time and should go back to what they’re good at.
Only kidding. They got constructive criticism on the viability of their ideas from a panel of three judges, including cohabitee of htxt.africa (he works in the office next door) and super lawyer Paul Jacobson. Also, Darren Smith – who turned out to be surprisingly well informed on the subject of rhino poaching – and FNB’s Marcel Claasen.
Out of 22 potential ideas, seven teams were formed. These included Condriac, which facilitates virtual consultations with a doctor, and Avioneta, a company which wants to sell unmanned drones for the purposes of catching rhino poachers.
There can be only one winner, though. But there’s also two runners-up. Sadly the judges decided that while catching rhino poachers was very topical, Avioneta’s plans at this stage weren’t quite polished enough to be carried forward. So the ideas which they’ll be supporting are:
Not sure whether or not that sore ankle is worth going to the doctor’s for? Condriac plans to make the medical profession more efficient by providing a way for patients to report symptoms to doctors via a mobile app and thus cut down on unnecessary consultancy fees. You report your ailment, a doctor reads your message when they have time, and then tells you whether or not you should come in for a proper appointment – and the plan is to be able to book appointments from inside the app. Everyone wins, including the insurance companies who only pay R100 for the eConsultation rather than the usual high fees. The judges agreed that the idea – which was presented by a team that included three biomedical engineers and a doctor – had potential, and was worth investing time in to develop further.
Runner-up – Bounce Radar
Young people who Go Out Often, ever get that antsy feeling that you want to do something but not sure what or where? Bounce Radar might help. The plan is to develop it into a social network specifically for entertainment and nights out, where people can vote up or vote down the venue they’re at. You log on, look at a map on your phone, and see instantly where fun is to be had. The judges pointed out that it’s going to be tough to get people to adopt yet another social network, especially as kids are very particular about where they share, but the team might be able to get backing from event organisers to promote the app because the real-time information they’d glean from it would be invaluable.
Winner – MyPUNT
The most polished idea of the weekend, and the one which the judges thought had most commercial potential on account of the multiple revenue streams open to it and lack of competition was MyPUNT. The initial pitch for MyPUNT was to facilitate micro-betting on sports events, with a social twist. Groups congregate online in WhatsApp-like chatrooms while watching – say – a game of tennis, and can bet against each other on events like ‘who’ll break the next serve’ and so on. What emerged as the most promising aspect, however, wasn’t the gambling side of things – which requires all kinds of hideous red tape to run – but the gamified extras.
The idea is that friends compete against each other socially through cashless betting on in-game events, but can buy real money power-ups to augment their scores scores. Approaching broadcasters interested in how people are reacting to their sports shows live on social media is also a potential revenue stream.
Congrats to the team behind MyPUNT- they win space at JoziHub and lots of mentoring to help get their app developed and the business off the ground. Keep an eye out for all these companies in the future.