By Ed Fletcher The Sacramento Bee.
Projects from two teams, each led by Sacramento women, are competing for online votes in a global startup challenge that ends Wednesday.
Teams from more than 250 cities from around the world are dueling for votes in the Global Startup Battle. Participants in the international competition started with ideas that were pitched at a recent startup weekend event. The startup weekend phenomenon seeks to invigorate local tech and entrepreneurial communities encouraging collaboration.
The two Sacramento entries are DashBar, lead by Sacramento State engineering student Joy Lane, and Bark, led by Sacramento marketer Lauren Norton.
DashBar, a customizable, integrated accessory bicycle mount complete with phone charger, headlight and a tail light with a rear view camera, took first place at the Women's Startup Weekend event held Nov. 14-16 at the Urban Hive co-working space. Bark placed third at the same event for an application that allows dog owners to trade services.
That weekend started with the two women pitching their ideas to a roomful of people looking to either launch their ideas or to join a team. The teams brainstorm through the weekend to develop ideas, then face a judging panel to determine the winner.
"I started with a very raw idea," said Lane, 25, of her startup weekend experience. She said the concept evolved over the weekend as others questioned her ideas and she found the right mix of features, weight and design.
The Stockton native said the experience has been a great learning opportunity. Lane is closing in on her engineering degree after taking classes part-time for eight years. She admits that juggling the challenges while preparing for final exams and working at a restaurant has been difficult.
Norton, 28, said she got the idea for the pet-sitting exchange shortly after getting her puppy, Rosie. It's an idea that evolved out of her experience at a Davis housing cooperative where the parents trade chips for baby-sitting.
"There is a huge market of people who would never think about paying for someone to pet-sit their dog," Norton said. While her idea isn't yet a working smartphone app, the project was pushed along greatly by the startup weekend.
The teams compete in one or more of five tracks. They include "Champions Track," "Education, Empower Track," "Do the Kind Thing Track," "The Innovators Track" and "Startup Women Track." Teams that didn't place in their city competitions in the two weeks prior can compete in all of the tracks except the Champions Track.
In the Champion's Track, half of the points come from online voting and judges' scores make up the other half. The two top teams from each of the six global regions then compete to be the Global Startup Battle champion. The winner is expected to be announced after Friday. The top 15 of each of the other other tracks will be judged with an announcement made Dec. 10, said Laura Good, who helped organize the local event.
"The startup culture is infectious," Norton said. "I don't think I can go work a normal office job again."