Kid-friendly doodle cloud wins Startup Weekend Des Moines
Members of doodle cloud. Front from left: Jennifer Bowersox, Emma Peterson. Back from left: Jon Thompson, Matthew Smith, Brett Neese, Josh Larson and Yas Kuraishi.
During the course of 54 hours, more than 100 developers, designers and business people congregated in StartupCity Des Moines for a weekend of innovation and creation. They came, they pitched, they built — and on Sunday night they pitched again. The judges deliberated over the 16 startups of Startup Weekend Des Moines, and three were crowned the winners:
- doodle cloud. An iPhone and iPad app that allows children to snap a photo of a cloud, draw and decorate it with stickers, then send it to loved ones.
- myKitchenGenie. A reverse recipe app that gives you meal suggestions based on the ingredients already in your home.
- Roadrageo.us. A web app that allows you to leave “rage tickets” for bad drivers based on their license plate numbers.
The projects were judged on business model, customer validation and execution. The panel of judges featured Ben Milne of Dwolla, Mike Colwell of Business Innovation Zone, Milt Milloy of Springboard Consulting & Capital, and Tej Dhawan and Christian Renaud of StartupCity. “When we did the votes, we had three contenders for the top, and we had to go back again and go back again and say who nailed these three categories the most?” Renaud said.
But doodle cloud won in all three categories. “They built it, they had people using it, they had a monetization plan that was actually pretty well thought out,” Renaud said. “I think these were all of the right size and dimension to fit into the development of the weekend.”
“For me to see amazing people do amazing stuff in an amazingly short amount of time opened my mind to what’s possible,” said Matthew Smith, CEO of doodle cloud. “It was that perfect.”
The idea for doodle cloud has been a long time in the works — stretching back to Smith’s days in college. Back then, he said, the technology didn’t exist to do a project like this, but he revisited the idea years later when software caught up — and when he had kids.
“Being able to win it for the kids — it sounds corny, but they ask me all the time, ‘Daddy, when are you gonna build this game that you’ve told us about?’” Smith says. “They got to make T-shirts today, they got to help build an app, see how it works — so to have them involved and seeing what it takes to make something like this awesome, it’s tough to get that at school.”
The doodle cloud team consisted of Matthew Smith of Real Estate Fan Pages, Emma Peterson of Tikly, Jon Thompson of Evolve and Yas Kuraishi of iApps24, along with Brett Neese, Jennifer Bowersox and Josh Larson. Because many of doodle cloud’s creators are prominent Des Moines startup figures, the team earned a reputation as the “Yankees” of Startup Weekend. “We did have a stellar team, but it was a stellar team because Matthew had such a stellar project,” Peterson said. Though she wasn’t planning to join a team, Peterson told Smith she would jump on board if he pitched doodle cloud. “There’s a lot of need for passion in what startups do, and Matthew is like the embodiment of that belief,” Peterson said.
Moving forward, most of the teams want to continue working on their projects in some capacity. “Every team should have momentum now, and they gotta figure out a way to use it to their advantage,” said Rob Jensen, one of the organizers of the weekend. “If they let themselves go to a dead stop and decide to pick it up again, it’s going to be that much harder.”
And doodle cloud is already well on its way to being a product. It’s awaiting review in the iPhone App Store, and the crew is planning a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds. They’re going to bring it to a new audience and decide which team members are in it for the long haul.
Look for doodle cloud in the iPhone app store, and check out the rest of the weekend’s projects in post: "The Final Fifteen: Projects From Startup Weekend Des Moines".
Friday night, people started congregating for the preliminary pitches.
StartupCity played host to over 100 participants in this year's Startup Weekend.
Front row from left: Mark Kirschenman, Alex Andrade and Naipong Vang of Dance VS wait to pitch on Friday night.
Andrew Kirpalani introduces Startup Weekend.
Captive audience members listen to pitches.
Jake Kerber of Locusic watches Friday's pitch session, soda in hand. Locusic came in second place at last year's Startup Weekend.
Brad Dwyer pitches Roadrageo.us for the first time. He promised he would have a working product by Sunday night, and he delivered. Roadrageo.us came in third place.
Organizers Levi Rosol and Shane Reiser do some Post-It consulting on Saturday.
A large crowd congregated Sunday night in StartupCity to hear the final pitches.
Matthew Smith, CEO of doodle cloud, gives his pitch to the room — already sporting a doodle cloud T-shirt.
Credits: Photos by Riane Menardi.