Wi-Fi product promising simplicity wins Startup Weekend Omaha
The SimplyFi team (from left): Adam Hunke, Sourabh Chakraborty, Paul Sieka and Jamie Suarez.
SimplyFi, a concept for a Wi-Fi router and extender, won the fourth Startup Weekend Omaha on Sunday, beating out seven other teams. Let's Brew, an online resource and store for home brewers, and Small Potatoes Co., a marketplace for home gardeners and locavores, placed second and third, respectively.
"We thought SimplyFi was a cut above the rest because it was an actual investable business," said event judge Mark Crawford, CEO of Invest Nebraska. Remarking that the others seemed like "lifestyle plays," he said SimplyFi hit all the judges' criteria: customer validation, business model and execution.
"The potential size of the problem they were going after was a much bigger market, which made it attractive from sort of an overall business perspective," said judge Bart Dillashaw, an attorney and the president of the Nebraska Angels.
Adam Hunke, one of SimplyFi's four team members, echoed Crawford and Dillashaw's sentiments. "I think we found a problem, and that was the point of it," he said, noting the big market potential. "We let the judges and the audience envision what the solution looks like, put it in their minds with a great presentation."
SimplyFi's Sourabh Chakraborty and Jamie Suarez (far right) pitch to the panel of judges (from left): Bart Dillashaw of Nebraska Angels, Brian Branigan of LoCoCoLo, Ginny Wood Martin of Nebraska Global, Christian Renaud of StartupCity Des Moines and Mark Crawford of Invest Nebraska.
SimplyFi is a Wi-Fi router and extender that aims to give users a setup and management experience that is easier to use than existing products. Over the nearly 48-hour window the teams had to work on their products, SimplyFi created a prototype (below, right), designed an example of an online interface and identified its market.
In the team's pitch (video below), team member Sourabh Chakraborty explained that market.
"If you're wondering why we are doing this, small (and) medium businesses, we feel we have the biggest value proposition for them," he said. "For the amount of money we can save them for the little amount of money they have to spend to get this."
Chakraborty said that small and medium businesses spend $136 billion annually on IT services and that one-third of them don't have a Wi-Fi. SimplyFi plans to offer its product for $199.
Hunke said the team's next steps are to collaborate with computer electrical engineers at the University of Nebraska, design what's inside the prototype and mold a plastic prototype. "From there, there'd be intellectual property issues there," Hunke said. "So yeah, we'll see if we go forward. I think it's got a lot of potential."
Here's SimplyFi's winning pitch:
Note: Silicon Prairie News is a media sponsor of Startup Weekend Omaha.
Credits: Photos and video by Danny Schreiber. Graphic of SimplyFi courtesy SimplyFi.