DiversitfyUs, an app helping corporations better diversify their workforce, took first place at St. Louis’ Startup Weekend on Sunday. And they took the idea from concept to reality in 54 hours. The 2014 Startup Weekend St. Louis event took place at T-REX from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon and challenged teams to build a startup in a 54-hour time frame. On Friday, people pitched concepts for companies in less than 60 seconds, and those who signed up for the weekend narrowed the field down to 14 teams. Starting Saturday, the teams began to build their company and their product. A panel of judges, consisting of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors and even political figures, chose the winner on Sunday. The teams were judged on three main criteria: business model validation, execution, and user interface and design.
DiversifyUs won a nice stable of prizes: 3 months free drop-in space to any of the co-working spaces in the League of Independent Workspaces, lunch with angel investor and entrepreneur Hal Gentry, $3,000 in legal services from Polsinelli, $1,500 in accounting services from Anders CPA and gift cards to locations in downtown St. Louis. The company also won free access to Startup Connection due to winning the People’s Choice Award at the event. The concept for the app came from Daniel McFarland after talking with his wife, whose company was strategizing how to react to recent events in Ferguson. “We have lots of ways to find people that we share a lot in common with, but I thought it would be great if we had a way to connect with people that we appear to not have a lot in common with from the naked eye, but really do,” McFarland told the St. Louis Business Journal. The 2014 Startup Weekend St. Louis runner up was Fantasy Politics, a fantasty football-like game for political junkies where elected officials get points for certain actions, such as sponsoring a bill, and getting re-elected. The third place team was Know Me, which takes public information from the web and packages it for use in networking and sales. This year was the fourth year that Startup Weekend took place in St. Louis, as part of the efforts to transform St. Louis into an entrepreneurial hub. It was one of hundreds of Startup Weekends that take place across the world. The event is powered by Google and global sponsors and partners include Microsoft, Sprint and Coca-Cola. Local sponsors included Polsinelli, TriNet, Anders and Accelerate St. Louis. For more information on Startup Weekend, visit http://startupweekend.org/.