An online resource for teachers has been named the winner of the first Startup Weekend Sydney, beating more than 80 other participants in the 54-hour event.
GetClassMate is an online application for teachers to share their resources on a global basis. The idea was developed by 30-year-old Sydney school teacher Jesse Black.
“As a teacher, I am often starved for time. GetClassMate allows me to save and share my files into the cloud,” Black says.
“Not only can I access them from anywhere, I can even download other great lessons plans from around the world. GetClassMate is now my go-to service in the classroom.”
Startup Weekend, held in Sydney for the first time from July 29-31, was sponsored by the NSW Department of Trade and Investment and hosted by business incubator ATP Innovations.
The Startup Weekend concept was born in the United States in 2007. It has since hosted more than 200 events in more 100 cities around the world.
In May, Australia’s first Startup Weekend, held in Melbourne, was won by Native Tongue, a game that helps people learn different languages.
The event kicks off with participants pitching their ideas before forming teams to build on these ideas. By Sunday, the teams should be able to demonstrate their prototypes to a judging panel.
A winning team is then selected on factors including level of innovation, community benefit and business model strength.
“This grassroots event brings together talented people with different skill sets and puts them in a pressure cooker environment,” NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said in a statement.
“Internationally, over 36% of Startup Weekend start-ups have still been going strong after three months and about 80% of participants plan on continuing to work with their team or start-up after the weekends.”
Black described the event as “open ended”, saying it’s ultimately what you make it. Ironically, he attended Startup Weekend with no intention of staying.
“I showed up on Friday intending to watch and listen. I was just going to go home – I hadn’t even thought about pitching my idea. My intention was just to get some sort of validation,” he says.
Black pitched his idea in the initial 60-second timeframe but didn’t expect it to be chosen as one of the ideas that would form the basis for a start-up. When asked to assemble teams, about 10 people gravitated towards Black.
“We assembled our team, indentified ourselves and our strengths, and made a to-do list. I then let my team work on things as they needed to and we would reassemble every hour to check in,” he says.
Black believes his team won because “we’re solving a problem – the idea demonstrates a good ethos and pathos”.
He says the service will initially be rolled out across schools in Sydney but he plans to take it “as far as I possibly can” and is hopeful his team will stay on.
“There is no better way to interview someone than to watch them work tirelessly on something for 48 hours – that’s someone I would love to have on board full-time, so I would cherish the fact that they would want to stay with me,” he says.
For other start-ups considering attending a Startup Weekend, Black says it’s definitely worth it.
“It can be very scary putting your idea into someone else’s hands and saying, can you help me with this? But an idea is worth nothing until it has validation,” he says.