Startup Weekend’s second-ever e-Government event has entered the SW chronicles as a huge success! First off, many thanks to all our sponsors (Microsoft Bizspark, CodeforAmerica, Twilio, 10gen, and SendGrid) as well as our volunteers for making this event what it was. We couldn’t have done it without you.
At DCGOV, Nearly 100 registered attendees came together to advance the dialogue around innovation in the Gov2.0 and civic engagement sectors and launch high-impact startups. Participants joined with a variety of backgrounds: some were experienced entrepreneurs, designers, and developers; others were civic activists and cause evangelists; and still others brought their expertise from government consulting, global NGOs, and local and federal government agencies. All this variety resulted in a medley of ideas, perspectives, and approaches, with a resounding heap of excitement to top things off!
Friday evening kicked off with a rousing speech from USCTO Todd Park about how government is becoming more entrepreneurial and why we all, as private citizens and progressive public servants, should care. Todd was followed by William Eggers of Deloitte, who offered three intriguing vignettes of up-and-coming Gov2.0 startups and their ground-breaking business models. Nearly 40 pitches followed-suit, with ideas coming from local government employees, federal bureaucrats, dozens of passionate civic entrepreneurs, four 11-year-old kids, and the World Bank. Out of this chaos, 11 ideas made the cut and folks began racing to “recruit” the perfect talent for the weekend.
Come Saturday, the mentors descended. Gov2.0 rockstars like Dominic Campbell (Founder of FutureGov), Evan Burfield (Founder of Synteractive), Shireen Mitchell (Founder of DigitalSistas) and Gwynne Kostin (Director of the U.S. Digital Services Innovation Center) pushed teams to redefine their products, validate their markets, and better understand the target problems. Put concisely, attendees were challenged. Tackling government problems is much more complex than what your typical “tech-startup-du-jour” faces, requiring mentors to take teams on deep dives into processes, opportunities, user experience needs, and existing resources.
By Sunday, teams were scrambling to put together strong decks and nail down final prototypes for Sunday night demos. The pressure from the weekend and the mentors paid off come 5pm, with many teams blasting past the typical Gov2.0 hackathon junk to create unique, high-impact, sustainable e-Gov and Civic startup solutions. The questions from our judges panel were hot and fierce, and teams tried their best to field them. But three teams stood above the rest:
In 3rd Place, the City of Washington, DC and some savvy private sector folks led the charge with DC Business One Stop, a one-stop-shop platform for all your business registration needs. They have a clear model to test and validate in DC, with an ultimate plan to expand this platform to municipalities and states around the world.
In 2nd Place, Pineapple leveraged USDA and other open data to connect low income families in food deserts with healthy options that can be delivered to corner stores near them. As an incentive for continued momentum, they’ll be presenting a lightening talk on their application at the International Open Government Data Conference this July!
In 1st Place, GSAgility cleaned up with a procurement platform for the micro-vendor market, a huge and unsolved problem frustrating government employees around the world. To encourage GSAgility to double-down and make a difference, Code for America and Startup Weekend rewarded them with a spot in the finalist application round of Code for America’s Civic Accelerator! It is up to them to make the final cut.
While this event is over, it is just the beginning for Startup Weekend. We will be wading further into the e-Government space with additional events and partnerships in the coming year…laser-focused on birthing new entrepreneurs, creating sustainable impact, and fostering positive change in government, governance, and civic society.
Go big and do good!