As they say at TechStars Startup Weekend, the hardest part about starting up is starting out. But Weatherhead MBA students Siddhartha Sen and Shravan Khare didn’t hesitate to pitch their idea at this year’s Startup Weekend Cleveland, a 54-hour event that invites designers, developers and entrepreneurs to pitch their one-of-a-kind ideas to a panel of judges. And, as a result of their team’s great chemistry, solid business plan and presentation, Team Inspirit was selected as the first place winner of the event.
Sen and Khare, along with their other two Team Inspirit teammates, Cleveland Institute of Art students Stephen Aviton and Thomas Thornton (pictured above), formed their business concept around a problem that commonly plagues nursing home facilities: hydration. The team developed a business plan for wearable hydration monitors, which would provide real-time and accurate hydration levels to improve quality of life for the elderly and reduce nursing home negligence. Once the pitch was accepted and the teams were formed, the group quickly got to work on the details of this project.
“The time went by like an express train, with the team continuously brainstorming and structuring a solid business plan, and hardly getting any sleep both nights,” Sen says. “We worked from 6 a.m. to almost 3 a.m. each day, refining the product concept and the business model around it, trying to leave assumptions and loopholes to the bare minimum.”
After 54 hours of continuous brainstorming and hard work, on Sunday evening Team Inspirit was ready to give their presentation. Sen says the team was feeling peak high motivation at this point in the process. “After topping the competition, we were told by some of the judges how concrete and viable our idea was, and how informed and connected the entire team was, which made us feel incredibly proud,” he recounts.
As winners of the competition, Team Inspirit has had the opportunity to work with major companies in marketing, design, legal and finance and they plan to continue to engage their ideas and move their business plan forward. Their product is currently being prototyped.
Taking home the second place prize that weekend was another Weatherhead MBA candidate Chris Blanchard. His team, extraSENSE, developed an idea for a marketplace where venues and bands could find one another. The team got to work building the total addressable market, making phone calls with venues to determine pricing and building out their presentation.
When it came to presentation time, Blanchard says their team worked like clockwork, even though they encountered a few unexpected obstacles. “During the presentation the computer experienced a blue screen of death computer error, but our team worked through it without a hitch,” Blanchard recalls. “The whole team answered very challenging questions from the impressive panel of judges.”
Since the pitch, Blanchard’s team has been approached by an incubator in Colorado interested in pursuing their idea further.
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