Startup Weekend is a 54 hour business crash course where teams compete to launch a viable start-up business over the course of a single weekend of which MYOB is a very proud sponsor. The most recent weekend, held in Auckland, attracted entrepreneurs, designers and software developers from all over New Zealand and was won by Smile Today, an app that allows people to donate money to charity in return for a smile.
Smile Today team member Leah Davis said the Startup Weekend experience helped them turn an “off the wall” idea into a viable and popular business concept.
“Smile Today was the brainchild of Bhavesh Bhuthadia, a very creative guy with ideas that are often really out of the box,” said Leah Davis
“In the first part of the weekend where people present their ideas and try to assemble a team to implement it, Bhavesh gave his presentation and basically said ‘imagine a happy smiling face, of someone you love or a family member, now think about how the smile makes you feel. Ladies and gentlemen, that is my Startup Weekend idea.’ It was such an interesting and quirky idea, people were excited to take up the challenge of turning it into a solid business concept.”
The Startup Weekend challenges groups of strangers to come together and form a cohesive team capable of turning creative ideas into a viable business model over the course of the weekend.
“When the weekend started all we had was a concept, there was no technology behind it and no sense of how we could make a business case or bring in money,” said Leah Davis.
“I think part of the reason why we won was that we put together a really great team who brought a lot of experience and different skill sets to the role. We all had a very strong sense of a social conscience, which is what attracted us to the idea of Smile Today and its potential to help charities. However we also had a range of practical skills and contacts, especially in the charitable sector, that helped us find a way to make money out of the idea.”
Davis says the team also benefitted from valuable guidance given by Startup Weekend’s array of business mentors – some of the brightest entrepreneurial minds in the country who made themselves available over the weekend to advise the teams.
“The business mentors we had were always there giving us new ideas and advice. What was really helpful was that they all had hands-on, real-world knowledge, networks and connections. These are people who are on the frontlines of the business world every day; they know the current trends and they know what works.”
Using their existing business networks, the Smile Today team was able to identify charities as a key area where Bhutadia’s sharing smiles idea could be commercialised.
The eventual outcome of a weekend’s frantic work was that Smile Today makes it easier to donate to a charity, while allowing donations to be more traceable. Donors are then rewarded with a photo of a smiling face as a thank you for their generosity.
That innovation, combined with the buzz around their creative ideas and interesting approach, led Smile Today to win not only the Startup Weekend’s main prize but also the competition’s “People’s Choice” award.
Davis says the Startup Weekend challenge was an amazing experience that has helped launch an exciting new business.
“Startup Weekend was a great way to get Smile Today off the ground, it brought an awesome team together, put us in touch with experts in the field and helped build a really exciting new business.”
You can visit Smile Today at www.Smiletoday.co