Breckenridge startup weekend winner links consumers, socially responsible companies |

Breckenridge startup weekend winner links consumers, socially responsible companies

Jose Vieitez, of the Boomtown Accelarator in Boulder, and Myra Michelle Eby, a local entrepreneur and founder of MyChelle Dermaceuticals, were both judges in the first Breck Startup Weekend last Friday through Saturday. The judge not pictured was Ross Iverson, president and CEO of Vail Leadership Institute.
Contributed |

It didn’t look good at first for the eventual winner of the inaugural Breckenridge Startup Weekend.

Last Friday night, when ideas were pitched, the crowd wasn’t initially impressed with the potential business put forth by Dan Balgooyen, his sister Lindsay Balgooyen and Kyle DeFauw.

The trio from Steamboat Springs pitched a plan to create a new social media platform that could connect conscious consumers with socially responsible companies.

“It was a phenomenal idea,” said Amy Kemp, one of the event organizers. “But they were not one of the five ideas voted through on Friday night.”

The startup weekend was held Friday through Saturday at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge. On the first night, 18 startup business ideas were pitched, and the crowd in attendance voted on the top five. Teams then formed around those five ideas, and they proceeded to work furiously for the next 54 hours to design, research, analyze and further develop the concepts. The trio from Steamboat Springs was not one of the five picked to move on.

But, undaunted, they decided to pursue their idea anyway over the rest of weekend. And by the time Sunday evening rolled around, and it was time for the six active teams to present a more polished pitch, the judges picked Grt2ful Giveback as the winner.

“They never gave up,” Kemp said. “They showed the perseverance and passion, and they ended up winners. As a startup myself, I know what it’s like to hear people say ‘no, no, no.’ But if you believe in yourself and keep striving you can make it. It embodied the entrepreneurial spirit of the entire weekend.”

What’s also interesting is their new business idea was for a nonprofit organization. The new mobile platform they envisioned promotes and facilitates charitable giving campaigns and bridges a missing connection between companies, charitable organizations and consumers.

“Businesses get recognized for their philanthropy efforts while building a social media presence, nonprofits benefit by gaining new widespread exposure and funding, and end users win by receiving promotional discounts and gratification of making a difference,” said team leader Dan Balgooyen.

The winning team received three months’ use of a co-working space in Frisco for free. Partly because of that, the winners plan to relocate to Summit to work at making their winning startup idea a success.

Second place went to Breckenridge resident Jared Manske, who designed a device to improve home window blind safety. Third went to Brian Costanza of Denver. He created a mobile app called the Awesome Timer. It’s intended to keep track of every time a user does “something awesome.”

The success of the event already has some organizers amped to begin working on the next local startup weekend.

“We are all excited about the success of the event, and we are on the way to creating a startup community here,” said organizer Thomas Gerber. “We are really energized and ready to move forward.”

The next startup weekend will probably occur sometime during the 2015 mud season. By that time there might be two co-working spaces open in Summit County. The networks and resources for entrepreneurs to start a successful business from scratch are indeed on the rise.

And considering that tourism, the lifeblood of this community, is at an all-time high, there’s no time like the present for everyone out there who’s been incubating some great new business idea, to get it out there while we’re all riding the high tide of a resurgent economy.

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