Unexpected $10,000 investment ends startup weekend

Matt Leonard
Online Content Editor

The third annual RVA Startup Weekend ended with an unexpected prize when a judge decided to invest $10,000 in the grand prize winner, Simplixity.

The weekend began on Friday with 38 one-minute pitches, of which ten ideas were chosen. Fifty-four hours later, eight teams presented their “minimum viable product” to a panel for five judges.

“It far exceeded my expectations for startup weekend,” said Larkin Garbee, who helped organize the event.

She said the presence of healthcare related business ideas this year was new and it is a change she liked.

Catherine Schulten, who has 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry, pitched Simplixity. Her idea was to streamline the exchange of medical information. The mobile application allows the user to fill out a patient history and easily share it with multiple healthcare providers.

Schulten said everyone on her team currently has a full-time job, but that could change with this unexpected influx of capital.

“Maybe we need to re-think our career path,” she said. “This could take off.”

Ting Xu is the president and founder of Evergreen Enterprises, judge at RVA startup weekend and the first investor in Simplixity. In her introduction on Sunday evening she told the crowd she brought her checkbook and was ready to pull it out if she saw the right business.

“My passion is seeing great ideas take root and launch in central Virginia,” Xu said.

She expects her investment to go towards a working demo of the Simplixity product. Along with the demo, Xu said the business would need to work out the legality of the data collection; namely, who owns the data and if patients or doctors would enter it.

Photo by Michael Pasco.

Another business Xu was interested in was It Takes a Village, an application that helps single mothers organize human capital and resources to help raise their child.

“That’s another team I’d like to get involved with in the coming months,” she said.

The judges did vote It Takes a Village as having the most community impact of all the pitches. Occupy, a social media app for the restroom, won most likely to scale. The best in show award for design went to Doctors Orders, an app to help patients remember what the doctor prescribed. Along with the grand prize, Simplixity took home best minimum viable product.

Judges for the event, along with Xu, were Nicky Colomb, the enterprise and economic development executive at VCU; Sonali Shetty, principal at Hodges Digital Strategies; Todd Nuckols, the director at Lighthouse Labs; Will Loving, the CEO at Altron Corporation.

Over the course of the weekend two business ideas dissolved: Truck-It and Co-Garage.

“That’s pretty common,” Larkin said.

Truck-It was pitched as a ride sharing application for people who are moving, but their team dynamic didn’t end up working out. Co-Garage, a place to work on your car in the city, found out their business model isn’t viable.

Larking hopes that Simplixity continues and they don’t “let the idea die.”

She says Startup weekends are a special place. Everyone has the chance to focus on nothing but the project for 54 hours. Monday morning came and the attendees were either back at work or in a classroom.

“The real world makes it complicated,” Larkin said.

As for Schulten, she says her team has yet to discuss ownership or money. Sunday night she was just thinking about one thing.

“I need to go to sleep,” she said. “I’m exhausted.”

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