Every Startup Weekend starts with an (awesome) organizing team. We were a mixed group of long-time enthusiasts and newbies to SW but we all share a common a passion for entrepreneurship, learning and teamwork.
The idea for a Health Edition was born during our previous event. Laura, our most experienced organizer, was casually talking about being time to give someone else the opportunity to lead. Maria, being totally in love with SW, volunteered. Then the discussion about what kind of event would suit Sacramento better started and it didn’t take long for the team to get to the health idea. After all Sacramento is home to the UC Davis Medical Center and many of the organizers work in health related fields.
In a participant’s mind: What are we doing here?
After months of putting SW Sac: Health Edition together the day came to kick off the event. The event took place at The Urban Hive, one of the close friends of Startup Weekend Sacramento. The participants arrived starting 5:30PM. Some of them looked excited, some looked nervous. The participants were supposed to start networking and while most did, the feeling of anticipation seemed to kept some to their own. They look as if they were practicing the pitches in their heads or they just didn’t know what to expect from SW and were still trying to figure it out.
Participants arrived at our host venue, The Urban Hive, to register, and begin networking.
Foodjets, a local startup, delivered Friday’s dinner in one of their very distinctive blue and orange cars. Thanks FoodJets for being a supporter of SW Sacramento!.
We invited Dr. Yan Chow to Startup Weekend because he has a remarkable career in health innovation. Not only is his resume out of this world: an undergraduate degree from Harvard, medical doctor from UCSD, residency at UCSF and an MBA from UC Berkeley, but he is also a great speaker. With a gentle but very passionate voice, Dr. Chow’s talk was delineated by a key concept, value proposition, and beautifully contextualized in health and the new role that consumers have making health related decisions and driving the market enabled by technology. He delivered the ultimate keynote speech, both practical and inspirational.
Our enthusiastic facilitator, Luke Bayard, broke the ice with a hilarious “half-baked” game. After a good laugh and bit less tense, participants lined up for their 60 seconds of glory. Many interesting ideas were shared: a healthcare snapchat and an app to block ads and content related to food and other unhealthy habits were among the organizers’ favorites.
12 ideas in total, only 5 teams formed. Only 5 teams… and then reality started to surpass expectations: The health edition was going to be a completely different Startup Weekend.
Saturday mornings are wonderfully during a Startup Weekend. Everyone is full of energy and so hopeful. That didn’t change for Sacramento’s Health Edition. What was different was the press coverage. Journalists and photographers from the Sacramento Bee and Sacramento Magazine arrived to interview, photograph, and film the organizers and participants.
You might wonder why SW Sacramento Health Edition got the attention from the main newspaper in town. It is all about timing. Sacramento has a lot of potential and key resources to become an innovation hub. The city is trying to find its startup ecosystem identity and because of the strong influence that UC Davis has, med and agricultural seem to be at the core. The Major and other influential voices have made nourishing and strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem a priority and Startup Weekend strongly resonates with that.
We had a great group of mentors come in on Saturday afternoon to share their time, knowledge, and experience with our entrepreneurs.
The health edition is a challenging one for everyone. Team found out that the competition around their ideas is fierce, they also learn from the mentors about regulations - Wait? That needs FDA approval? - and the difference between end user and customer. Those are very strong forces that guided some teams into tweaking their solutions so they didn’t face regulations obstacles or they appeal more to who their customer would actually be - say, an insurance company perhaps?
Sunday was another beautiful day in Sacramento, but our teams once again rallied early to come in to the venue at The Urban Hive in Midtown to continue working on the business plans. By midday on Sunday, teams were working on the presentations, getting ready to present to the judges in the evening.
All the excitement and all the work are realized during the final presentations. Five minutes were the 54-hour journey each of the teams took is summarized and months of work organizing the event start to come to an end. The weekend goes so quickly but it is totally worth it. Meeting the participants and seeing them grow, they now consider themselves entrepreneurs, chatting with the mentors and the camaraderie among the organizers, they all make participating and organizing a Startup Weekend a live changing experience.
The health edition has that added reward: solutions that have the potential to impact people’s live significantly. Helping a kid understand their chronic disease, guiding a busy mom through her physical therapy exercises so she can go back to a pain-free live, or perhaps a reliable advice on what is an alternative medicine to those nasty allergies.
Someone has to decide who the winner team is, is not an easy job but it’s got to be done. Judges balanced which of the ideas would benefit the most from the prizes given, how much they accomplished during the weekend and how relevant those accomplishes were in order to launch a startup.
Another Sunday night, picking up trash and cleaning up the venue. In the meantime we are already starting to plan the next Startup Weekend Sacramento. It ought to be in November of course, we have to win the hashtag battle this year!
PT Track a wearable paired with data recording and displaying applications to help physical therapy patients adhere to their treatment and to inform care providers about the progress done by the patient among other things. They focused on in-home physical therapy but there are many other possible applications in sports and even for gait and balance analysis and monitoring in the elderly.