The Innovation Institute hosted their 2nd annual Startup Weekend in partnership with Career Development and Placement Services in January. The weekend was devoted to letting students develop teams and ideas that could potentially be startups.

The students came from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from neuroscience majors to law students. As Babs Carryer, Director of Education and Outreach at the Innovation Institute, said, “The goal of our Startup Weekend is to provide a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to form and pitch their ideas as well as to prep for the upcoming Randall Family Big Idea Competition.”


As the weekend kicked off, a buzz of excitement enveloped the room while students networked with each other and shared their ideas. Shawn Chowdhury, a first-year law student, said “I won second place at a business expo in undergrad and I thought I should bring it to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has a lot of infrastructure for startups.” Pitt’s Startup Weekend offered great resources to help the teams advance their ideas towards reality, primarily in the form of top-notch mentors, including Charlie Driscoll, Greg Coticchia, Evan Facher, Chip Hanlon, and Joel Reed.

Throughout Saturday, six teams worked diligently on their pitches, presentations and market analysis. The teams reconvened on Sunday morning to put the finishing touches on their presentations and present to the judges. The judges included; Debra Lam (Chief Innovation and Performance Officer for the City of Pittsburgh), Marc Malandro (Associate Vice Chancellor for Technology Management and Commercialization at Pitt, Interim Director of the Innovation Institute and entrepreneur), and Robert Stein (Interim Director of Pitt’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence). The judges evaluated the aspiring entrepreneurs on five key points: idea, market, customers, competitive analysis and revenue model.

Here’s a look at how the teams placed and a bit about their idea:

1st place and $2500

Boon (Alexander Palmiere, Bill Wang, Andrew Buchmann and Adnan Khan)
Boon is a mobile application that will allow for the gamification of customer loyalty points through customized, interactive promotions to the user.
2nd place and $2000

NutriGran (Jason Taylor, Yasir Alsamdani and Omar Akhtar)
NutrigGran is a one-stop solution for elders and their families to get weekly food deliveries through a monthly subscription that is tailored to their diet.
3rd place and $1500

Trellis (Jaclyn Clifford and Marlene van Es)
Trellis will offer land access and business development legal services for those dedicated to
Urban Agriculture in Pittsburgh at low subscription and project based rates.
4th place and $1000

Ettorney (Eric Rowling, Nathaniel Bootes, Saul Williamson, Zaman Eid and Zach Laplante)
Ettorney is a website that helps to refer attorneys to clients and to connect clients to attorneys
In a specialized field.
5th place and $500 dollars

F.E.E.A.D (Bobby Quamar)
F.E.E.A.D stands for Functioning Everyday with an Electronic Assisted Device. This will be a ten-minute online questionnaire that recommends the right electronic device that would make the lives of those with disabilities easier.
6th place and $250

StoryGame (Robert Webb)
StoryGame is an anxiety video game that helps people understand, relate and cope with anxiety.

Our 2nd annual Startup Weekend here at the Innovation Institute was a success and in the words of Innovation Institute leader, Marc Malandro, “events like these help to build the entrepreneurial culture we are trying to form. This culture—it starts with the students.”