Startup Weekend finishes with a flurry of winning ideas

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The Look Collective group gives a presentation to a panel of judges Sunday during the Startup Weekend competition where teams created and executed a business idea over three days. The event was held at InNEVation Center in Las Vegas.

The Look Collective group gives a presentation to a panel of judges Sunday during the Startup Weekend competition where teams created and executed a business idea over three days. The event was held at InNEVation Center in Las Vegas.

By KRISTY TOTTEN
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Fifty-four hours to launch a business.

That’s the goal behind Startup Weekend, which wrapped up its sixth edition Sunday at the InNEVation Center.

From Friday evening to Sunday night, people with venture ideas and tech expertise, though not necessarily both, pitched Web-based businesses and assembled to execute them.

The winning team was Plus1Analytics, a service that provides real-time table game analytics for high-end casino gaming.

“Every casino I’ve worked at, no one has a good understanding of the risk at high-end table games,” said Patrick Nichols, who specializes in strategy and analytics at a Strip casino.

Currently, high-end player data is collected by hand by pit bosses, who later manually enter information into the system or file it away in a cabinet, said Plus1Analytics member Stephen Singer.

Plus1Analytics allows supervisors to enter information about players and their bets into a web app and see models and statistics instantly.

For casinos, it minimizes uninformed risk.

Nichols and Singer joined Startup Weekend with the idea for Plus1Analytics and teamed up with developers Michael Blauser, Zach Kollegger and William Franceshine.

Each member said they want to continue to work together and develop the product.

“If you took one of us out of the equation, it wouldn’t have come together as well,” Blauser said.

Txtile.co, a website that aggregates content from Imgur, Reddit and Pinterest and presents the content in the form of tiles, took second place from the judges, and also won best design, as voted by Startup Weekend participants.

“We came for the pizza,” said Txtile developer Mike Cao.

“No really, we did,” said designer Melissa Volkmann.

Volkmann, Cao and business developer Gabe Shepherd said they came to the event to support friends and thought it might be fun to stick around and participate. The idea was so last-minute, they weren’t able to take part in Friday’s initial round of pitches because they didn’t have an idea ready.

Bandaid, a website that crowdfunds band tours, won third. Bandaid allows fans to fund tours by buying the band specific items, like lunch, for perks such as a photo of the band eating that meal in return.

Eighty participants on 17 teams made presentations to a judge panel including Will Young, director of Zappos Labs; Jason Mendenhall, cloud expert and executive vice president of Switch C.U.B.E.; and Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and chairman of newly formed Up Global, a partnership between Startup Weekend and Startup America that connects entrepreneurs with resources.

Case said that years ago, a person might have scratched his head to hear “Vegas” and “communications tech” in the same sentence.

Today, Case points to this event as proof of the growing tech community.

“This is the way these entrepreneurial ecosystems develop,” said Case, pointing to the success of tech hotbeds like Seattle.

“These were some of the strongest pitches I’ve seen yet,” said event organizer Adam Kramer. “People found real-life solutions to problems everyone can relate to.”

The next Startup Weekend Vegas will take place in April 2014.

Contact Review-Journal writer Kristy Totten at ktotten@reviewjournal.com. Follow @kristy_tea on Twitter.
Original Article: http://www.reviewjournal.com/business/technology/startup-weekend-finishes-flurry-winning-ideas