BY BECKI DEGEEST
Last weekend high school and college students, Fargo-Moorhead community members and entrepreneurial-crazed individuals met at the second annual Startup Weekend in Fargo.
With over 120 participants including non-technical workers, designers and developers, the goal of Startup Weekend, an event hosted all over the world, is to create and start up businesses and ideas and build and work together. Of the 120 participants, almost half were students from various area high schools and universities.
The event was initially created as a way to give the opportunity to young entrepreneurs to connect with other business-minded individuals, coaches and current business owners to help create something “bigger.” Specifically in F-M area, the event took place to make the community flourish and expand further.
This year several MSUM students gave pitches, but only one had an idea selected to be presented. Peter Lonnquist had an idea to create an app that helps its users “defeat indecisiveness when choosing a restaurant.”
“Food Spin” is a simple, fun app that takes its user through a two-step process of choosing a food type and then spinning a wheel which picks a completely random restaurant for its user. Making the app more local and up to date is a strong issue to overcome. Lonnquist has a future plan for the app to not only include restaurants, but bars, coffee shops, nightly events and more.
“The Fargo-Moorhead college community has a retention rate of around 60 percent,” Lonnquist said. “A large reason why students leave and go home is because they get bored often, so this app would help them to have new experiences. And if it would result in students staying around longer, F-M’s resources would increase and the economy would boost, from restaurants to realtors.”
Along with “Food Spin,” there were 11 other groups that presented along with more than 40 ideas pitched. Several of these groups contained MSUM students as well. The group Handles Mug Co. is one of the most popular and hosts around 15 participants. The idea behind Handles Mug Co. is to create a more social way of drinking by having conjoined mugs that allow two people to drink at the same time, some mugs having capabilities to disconnect and others not.
With over 200 likes and counting and with the creation of an indiegogo.com and a Twitter account, Handles Mug Co. has already begun to make a profit and is allowing interested people to pre-order online.
According to the group’s Facebook page, its reason for making this product is because “… everything we do, we do to bring people closer together. We believe that it is not only what we drink, but how we drink that matters. Our passion is to create a more social experience for drinking communities everywhere.”
“Overall, I thought the event was an interesting experience and a great way to meet new people in the area and connect,” Lonnquist said. This seemed to be the general consensus among student participants.
The weekend provided a great way for all participants to make connections, throw out ideas and become a part of something “bigger.”