Students hungry for Startup Weekend after last year’s NomNom Nation app
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 02:02
As Miami University students prepare for Startup Weekend, Feb. 8-10, some of last year’s winners continue to develop their entrepreneurial idea, NomNom Nation, a mobile app for charitable food donations.
Startup Weekend is a non-profit organization based in Seattle, Wash. that holds events across the country for people to pitch new entrepreneurial ideas in teams. In February 2012, Miami University was the first to host this weekend event for a college campus, according to event organizer and entrepreneurship professor, Mark Lacker.
“You learn how to start a business in one weekend,” Lacker said. “You take an idea and prove whether or not it is going to be marketable. That is what we do all weekend long, you crunch through that process. You learn basically how to start a business in 48 hours.”
Miami University’s event is different than other Startup Weekends because student participants receive one course college credit. On the last day, teams pitch their ideas to judges and a winner is chosen.
In addition, the Miami University Student Venture Fund will provide up to $25,000 for a proven and marketable startup business. The Student Venture Fund is a student organization that supports student and alumni entrepreneurial ventures and startups.
Chelsea Nauman, a senior graphic design major, was a member of the team that designed last year’s winner NomNom Nation. According to a NomNom Nation’s promotional Youtube video, “NomNom Nation provides a quick and easy way for smartphone users to donate to their local food banks with a click of a button.” The remaining group members continue to develop NomNom’s prototype.
“Right now, we are in the development stage of it,” Nauman said. “Since late September we have been working with four [computer] engineering students from Miami that are helping us further develop the app.”
Nauman, Brent Bielinski, a senior entrepreneurship major, and Amy Lewin, senior graphic design major, are the three students on campus currently working with the computer engineering students, according to Nauman.
Nauman and Bielinski said that after winning last year, Lacker approached her team with an option to help NomNom come to life.
“We picked up an extra two hours of class credit, along with the hour from Startup Weekend,” Bielinksi said. “It was called Startup Weekend boot camp, that was the course title. That basically was a whole semester of us as a group, hashing out our idea.”
During this time, the group altered parts of its charitable app idea to make it more marketable. According to Bielinski, their original idea was to put QR codes on the top of food items at the grocery story. NomNom Nation now focuses on connecting people to food banks and creating virtual food drives via smartphones.
Lacker said that Startup Weekend is more than just having a good idea; it is about what students learn while participating in the event.
“It is a 48 hour high impact, high focus learning environment,” Lacker said. “Students worked on site at Benton hall between 26 and 30 hours last year.”
The program is expecting about 150 participants this year, according to Lacker. Anyone can register to participate for $25. For more information visit www.muohio.startupweekend.org