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StirList wins first Startup Weekend Lincoln, eyes Lincoln Startup Week

Amber Pankonin was the team leader for StirList, which took top honors at the first Startup Weekend Lincoln.

As a kickoff to Lincoln’s first Startup Week, Lincoln’s first Startup Weekend was, by all accounts, a big success.  

“For the first event ever, it far exceeded my expectations,” said lead coordinator Amanda Thonen. The community support that rallied around the event was “atypical,” she said, perhaps because the 54-hour marathon was just the start of a marathon of events scheduled for each day this week.

As we reported Saturday, there were 68 participants organized in 10 teams that spent long hours (and late nights) in Avery Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus during Startup Weekend. On Sunday night, each team had four minutes to pitch to the judges: Seth Meranda, a user experience architect at UNL; Mark Crawford, the CEO and investment manager at Invest Nebraska; Monte Froehlich, the owner of US Property; Alice Dittman, the former president and CEO of Cornhusker Bank; and Chuck Norris, vice president of Nelnet Capital.  

“It warms the cockles of my heart as a venture capitalist to see what young people can do when they put their mind to it,” Crawford said as he prepared to announce the results.  

Among the heartwarmers: 

  • Honorable mention recipients Sebastian, software that teaches tone recognition (known to musicians as aural skills), and ecoHOME, an app that suggests and prioritizes custom energy savings tips.  
  • Third-place finisher Fiscal Circles, a web-based network that allows users to compare their personal finance situations with others anonymously (and which scored its first client during the weekend). 
  • Second-place finishers Campus Talq, a network with wide-reaching possibilities to collect communications on topics or projects and otherwise integrate campus resources, and rDempt, an online lost-and-found registry.

The winner was StirList, summed up by team leader Amber Pankonin  as “your playlist of recipes, allowing you to live in tune with nutrition.”  

The prototype site for StirList allows users to search for recipes based on a specialty diet needs such gluten-free, heart-healthy, or weight-loss-friendly. Users can add recipes to their “stir list,” generate a shopping list of ingredients and share recipes via social media.  

As the StirList team explained in its pitch, recipes will be uploaded by registered dietitians, who can use the site in their work advising clients. Food companies will be able to advertise and provide coupons through the site.  

“The hope is that we can take this and open up a world of opportunities for registered dietitians and families who need this service,” Pankonin said.  

The idea was born when Pankonin, who is a registered dietitian, was sitting in her office waiting for clients, working on menu plans and listening to Spotify.  

It got a little head start when Pankonin met Shaun Vanneman Thursday. Both women had wondered whether they would be the only woman at Startup Weekend, so a mutual acquaintance suggested they meet for coffee to ensure that each knew at least one friendly face.  

After Friday night’s 40 pitches, Vanneman signed on to Pankonin’s team, along with developer Robert Hinrichs and Shanna Smith.  

Although they were obviously exhausted as the event wrapped up on Sunday night — Pankonin said she slept about four hours all weekend — Hinrichs said the experience was “better than taking a vacation for the weekend.”  

In the “afterglow” of the win, they didn’t have precise plans for where the venture will go from here … at least not beyond Startup Week. They plan to celebrate at Monday’s opening party, then plan a repeat performance at Tuesday’s quick pitch competition.  


Credits: Photo from Startup Weekend Lincoln on Twitter

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