What are you doing in your spare time?

This weekend I represented HackFwd as a Jury member at the Startup Weekend 2011 in Hamburg. Startup Weekends are 54 hours marathon events, where people can pitch their ideas and find team members to create an internet business model over the weekend.

I arrived on friday evening and it was truly amazing: There were more than 100 young people preparing to work day and night together over three days! There was a big, big queue of people who wanted to present their idea to the crowd: At about 10am we had seen 40 ideas! The crowd selected the 11 best ones. There was a lot of cheering and "rock star welcomes" all the time and the moderator Lasse Chor really gave his best to encourage the participants by creating a unique, motivating atmosphere.

At 1030am the teams started their work. They stayed long hours, some of them even slept at the conference location. There was a true startup vibration in the air.

On sunday the finalists gathered together for the final pitch presentation. There was Circ.li (Bartering/Sharing books), Autonetzer (Car-Sharing), Love Wingman (an online coaching site for dating), Talkbox (turn your e-mail into voicemail), sgamblr (a gaming/auction site to collect donations for social causes), Eventary ("find the events that you like"), fluidnetwork (a place for co-workers to do business together), Kahuna (a mobile todo-list with geo-location alarm), cupcakes lingerie (co-creation/design ecommerce site for non-standard size lingerie), payzarr (c2c mobile payments) and weminds ("a Quora for casual questions").

With six people in the Jury, mostly VCs, we sat together and discussed what we have seen. We were impressed by sgamblr because they frankly had no business model but built a complete running prototype over the weekend and were even able to fundraise items and services with a total value of 2000 EUR! For them we created an extra price for "Social Entrepreneurship".

We gave "Love Wingman" the price for the best pitch and "Kahua" the price for the most innovative idea. Although there are todo-lists on the market who can remind you on things at specific geo-locations, we liked the idea that the team wants to use the collected data for product advertising, recommendation and coupons. It is still a very rough idea , but we could think of a model if they would focus on shopping lists instead of broad todos-lists.

And the overall winner was: cupcakes lingerie. Obviously this is a niche market, but this is actually where the internet is really good at. Co-creation is another trending topic too and if you put this together, you could end up with a specialized (but extendable) ecommerce brand selling high-margin products.

For me it was fun to see so many people to spend their spare time to create an internet business model together. Most of them haven't met before and my feeling was that they not only turned ideas into reality over the weekend, but also strangers into friends.