More than 80 entrepreneurs participated in Startup Weekend Little Rock, held Friday through Sunday at the Clinton School of Public Service.
The winning startup was Simple Service, an app that tracks and validates community service projects. Startup Weekend is a grassroots movement to launch startups that spread from its home base of Seattle to more than 200 cities around the world.
Simple Service team members include Chad Williamson, a Clinton School graduate who pitched the idea; David Allan and Sreesh Reddy, Hendrix College students; developers Travis Bennett and Kelt Dockins; designer Gordan Fisher, and Scott Shellabarger, project manager.
Williamson said the next step for Simple Service is to focus on Arkansas high schools and colleges.
"We believe there is a significant need to track, measure and verify public service hours for both college applications and professional resumes," he said. "The byproduct becomes students performing public service as an opportunity instead of an obligation. We want students to be conscious of their public service efforts while contributing time to an cause they're passionate about."
Jeff Amerine of Fayetteville, an advisor for Innovate Arkansas and one of the event judges, had high praise for the quality of the ideas hatched at the event.
"Overall, the event highlighted what impressive talent can accomplish in 54 hours," he said. "It was excellent, and I can’t say enough about the spectacular job Jordan Carlisle and Max Farrell did in organizing and managing the event. The Arkansas venture ecosystem is getting better and better thanks to efforts like this."
A little more than a third of all Startup Weekend ventures are still active three months out, and Amerine believes the ideas hatched at Little Rock could spawn successful ventures. He likes Simple Service's chances.
"Anytime social entrepreneurship can be aligned in an authentic way with a good money-making business model, magic can happen," he said. "The key is, it has to be authentic and the Simple Service crew fit that bill."
Startup Weekend entails entrepreneurs meeting up, networking and forming teams over the course of a weekend, from which the top ideas are pitched to a panel of judges. Twelve teams were formed at the Little Rock event.
Simple Service took home $1,000 in cash plus an impressive package of free startup consulting services. Second place went to VidLibs, a video Mad Libs app.