Participants and organizers alike hailed the success of the inaugural Startup Weekend Little Rock, held Friday through Sunday at the UA’s Clinton School of Public Service.
The unexpected win is still sinking in for Chad Williamson, one of the guys behind winning venture Simple Service. Chad’s team came up with an app that tracks and validates community service projects. Team members are Williamson, who pitched the idea; David Allan and Sreesh Reddy, Hendrix College students; developers Travis Bennett and Kelt Dockins; designer Gordan Fisher, and Scott Shellabarger, project manager.
INOV8 caught up with Chad for a little aftermath Q&A below. Plus, IA advisor and SWLR judge Jeff Amerine provides some thoughts on the winners…
INOV8: Tell us about the win and how it went down.
Chad: I really believe we won because our team was made up of complementary individuals and each person had a role in which they exceptionally fulfilled. Prior to talking about strategy for the weekend, we all sat down and got to know each other a little, which I believe is always critical for team chemistry. As a Clinton School graduate, I was pumped that we won in the same building where I developed the skills and mindset for the idea we executed. It’s amazing how things come full circle.
INOV8: Were you planning on getting involved with a team all along?
Chad: In all reality, I was there to observe how Startup Weekend worked and then I felt compelled to pitch just to understand the experience better. The idea actually got the least amount of votes and the only guys who had interest ended up becoming the team.
INOV8: Tell us about the name.
Chad: We actually pivoted on the name late Saturday night from “Noble Service” to “Simple Service,” but we still might change it. The next step is planning an official launch but we are definitely moving forward. We obviously have a lot of work to do but everyone is in and excited about the possibility of creating a great company committed to public service. Dean Rutherford [Skip Rutherford, head of the Clinton school] actually asked David and Sreesh to come pitch him in mid-May.
INOV8: What will you take away from this experience?
Chad: Like I tweeted [Sunday night], we started as a group of individuals and ended up a bonafide TEAM…in 54 hours. It was a tremendous educational experience and something I’ll never forget, especially because we came together as a team that executed with passion & purpose.I was at Little Rock Startup Weekend the entire weekend. Great process and a fantastic job organizing the event by rising stars Jordan Carlisle and Max Farrell.
Indeed, well done, Jordan and Max. They had help, of course, but they were the drivers. And of course, well done, Chad and crew.
Amerine was there for the entire process, and as he told Arkansas Business, he came away impressed.
“Simple Service put together a great pitch that was well delivered and complete,” he said. “The team had a great mix of recent Hendrix grads, techies and seasoned entrepreneurs. I liked the concept of having a very efficient way of tracking and validating community service. Image an automated and curated way of having a community service portfolio electronically when you apply for college, grad school or that first big job. That’s what their solution does.”
Amerine also had high praise for VidLibs, which finished second. He noted its unique concept that none of the judges had seen before — a “video clip, crowd-driven mashup capability that could be used for fun, education or really cool, low-cost commercial ad production.”
Well done, guys — organizers, judges and all participants. Another win for Arkansas entrepreneurs and startups.