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DriveOff wins Startup Weekend Omaha


The DriveOff team (left to right): Ian Addy, Landon Miller, Erin Dabbs, Marvin Roe, Wendy Holley, Cara Heacock. Photo by Dale Eesley.

DriveOff was the winning team at this year’s Startup Weekend Omaha, held last weekend Sept. 23-25. The startup competition included around 70 participants, mostly college students from University of Nebraska Omaha, Creighton University and University of South Dakota.

The event was held at UNO’s College of Business Administration in Mammel Hall. The event’s signature sponsor was COX Business.

Nine teams pitched at the end of the event, from industries ranging from travel to sports to food. The judges included Julie Minton of COX Business, Rick Knudtson of Flywheel, Craig Tuttle, formerly of Prairie Ventures and State Senator Heath Mello.

“The best part was seeing teams work an idea, realize the challenges they face, and learn to iterate on an idea,” said Dale Eesley, John Morgan Community Chair in Entrepreneurship and one of the event’s organizers. “Not all these ideas are going to be possible but the process and what they learned about testing innovations in the marketplace was invaluable.”


Startup Weekend Omaha judges Rick Knudtson, Flywheel; Craig Tuttle, Prairie Ventures; State Senator Heath Mello; Julie Minton, COX Business. Photo by Dale Eesley.

Meet the winners: DriveOff

The winning team at the end of the weekend was DriveOff, led by Erin Dabbs. The team of six included Ian Addy, Landon Miller, Erin Dabbs, Marvin Roe, Wendy Holley and Cara Heacock.

The team was looking for a way to incentivize drivers to stop texting and driving by offering rewards, like free appetizers at a restaurant or retail store discounts, with the ultimate goal of saving lives.

Over the course of the weekend part of the team worked on market validation, including cold calls and surveys, while the three developers on the team worked on a Minimum Viable Product, or MVP.

According to Dabbs, over 80% of students surveyed said they text and drive, while 90% of them said they would put down the phone if incentivized.

Businesses were also interested. Nine out of nine businesses that the team approached said they would be interested in participating.

The development team finished a working demo in the final moments of the competition.

“Just about an hour before the presentation they rolled out a fully working product,” said Dabbs.

The judges remarked that the project was an obvious social good, one of the criteria for evaluation at Startup Weekend.

“They agreed with me that long term we should talk to insurance companies,” said Dabbs.

As the winning team, DriveOff receives a full year of space and mentorship at The Startup Collaborative, invitations to present at 1 Million Cups in Omaha and Lincoln, as well as tickets to Make Happen, an innovation event put on by the Greater Omaha Chamber, where they will be pitching as well.

Out of the weekend, Dabbs said she learned how to let people do what they do best.

“We had a lot of really great developers,” said Dabbs. “I just had to let people run heads down. But I also had to make sure that we had goals.”

According to Dabbs, all six people on the team have said they would like to continue on with the project.

Watch DriveOff’s Startup Weekend Omaha pitch below:

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