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The eight teams of Startup Weekend Omaha (Photos)

Members of the Water Bear Games team speak with Startup Weekend Omaha mentor Chris Augeri (forefront).

Startup Weekend Omaha is nearly 30 hours in. Its 60-some competitors have formed eight teams and spread themselves throughout The Mastercraft, occupying four offices in the North Downtown building to see their ideas through.

Before those ideas were pitched Friday, Omaha co-organizer and former Startup Weekend COO Shane Reiser kicked off the event with an overview of the competition: teams have until 6 p.m. on Sunday to build a product and put together a pitch. With more than 30 Startup Weekend events under his belt, Reiser praised the number of developers and designers in the room.

“I’m super impressed and pleased with the split of talent,” Reiser (right) said today, noting designers, developers and business people each accounted for about one-third of the competitors. “I haven’t seen an event in the Midwest with this many designers, and I’ve seen events in New York that suffer even more from the lack of designers.”

Reiser gave credit to John Henry Müller of What Cheer for reaching out to the design community.

On the other hand, Reiser said he and the other organizers could have done a better job promoting the event. “Sixty people here, and we had a hundred at the last event in Omaha,” he said, expressing disappointment in the overall turnout. Mentioning Startup Weekend Lincoln, Barcamp Omaha and the Silicon Prairie Awards – events that took place in recent weeks – he thinks a busy events calendar could be wearing people out.

When asked what he thinks of the quality of the event’s ideas, he said that with nine teams resulting from 14 pitches – one of the smallest amounts he’s seen – one might expect lower-quality teams. “Not the case,” Reiser said. “Some pretty good tangible stuff people could actually turn into businesses.”

The teams will pitch their ideas at 6 p.m. on Sunday. The final pitch event, which will take place at The Mastercraft (1111 N. 13th St.) is free and open to the public.

Learn more about Startup Weekend Omaha at omaha.startupweekend.org.

The teams

  • Let’s Brew – Helps beer fans become brewers.
  • ActivityPass (@activitypass, Facebook) – A way to share photos and videos of youth activities in a safe online environment.
  • Common Unity – An online community that connects international and local students and provides resources for student’s studying abroad.
  • Small Potatoes Co. (@smallpotatoesco, Facebook) – A website that connects lovers of locally grown produce with their neighborhood gardeners so none of the good stuff goes to waste.
  • Simplyfi – A wireless network that’s simple to set-up, simple to expand and simple to manage.
  • Scramble Fit – A mobile app that provides users a random six-step, full-body workout.
  • Shake Box – A self-service kiosk for custom protein shakes.
  • Water Bear Games – A website that provides a place where users can download print-and-play board games and designers can upload games for review.

Learn more about the teams, including which technologies they’re using, at startupweekend.org.

Follow the action on Twitter: #SWOmaha.

Let’s Brew: Joe Sparano (left) and Dan Sweeney.


ActivityPass: Kelsey Janda (left) and Becca Nispel. Not pictured: Jeff Cogswell, Jamie Thomason, Trent Allen, Will Dye and Don Stephens.

Common Unity: Brian Fritzsche (far left), Yukiko Yamada, Nate Chapman (also part of Water Bear Games) and Terrance Jacobson.

Small Potatoes Co.: John Henry Müller (far left), Logan Yard, Eric Edens, Evan Johnson and Jonathan Narwold. Not pictured: Mike Crowley and Travis Heppner.

Simplyfi: Sourabh Chakraborty. Not pictured: Shane Jensen, Eric Burns, Paul Sieka, Adam Hunke and Jamie Suarez.

Scramble Fit: Pam Thomson. Not pictured: Tara Charter, Brady Churchill and Wendy Hurd.

Shake Box: Jerin Ninan (far left), Austin Greco and Patrick Stevens. Also pictured (hand-shaking): Startup Weekend Omaha co-organizer Corey Spitzer (left) and mentor Chris Augeri. Team member not pictured: Sara Rips and Kyle “Polo” Bland.

Water Bear Games: Marcus Ross (far left), Cara Heacock and Alexandra Delgado. Not pictured: Nate Chapman (also part of Common Unity).

Scenes from Startup Weekend Omaha

Co-organizer Corey Spitzer addresses the attendees of the fourth Startup Weekend Omaha.

Yukiko Yamada pitches her idea for Common Unity.

Marcus Ross, with the help of Cara Heacock, pitches his idea for Water Bear Games.

Attendees vote for ideas by placing Post-it note on two sheets with ideas they’d like to work on over the weekend.

Spitzer and co-organizer Joe Evans (background) in the “Startup Weekend Omaha HQ.”

Patrick Stevens provides an update at today’s check-in meeting.


Note: Silicon Prairie News is a media sponsor of Startup Weekend Omaha.

Credits: Photos by Danny Schreiber.