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Firefighter app takes first place at Sacramento Startup Weekend

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Hacker Lab cofounder Gina Lujan on Friday night

One of the country’s premier hackathons was in Sacramento over the weekend, and it was a long 54 hours of creation and critical thinking for budding Sacramentan entrepreneurs.

Hacker Lab had roughly 90 participants in a competition all about launching ideas, when it hosted Sacramento’s first Startup Weekend from April 5-7. Fourteen teams presented at the awards ceremony on April 7, many of which intend to keep working on their startups with the hope of turning them into viable companies.

Startup Weekend, which takes place in cities around the globe, follows the standard format of a hackathon. Startup Weekend Sacramento began Friday, when anyone with an idea could make a pitch to the crowd of coders, designers and business developers. The best pitches drew a team, ideally made up of individuals with diverse backgrounds, who then worked together over the weekend to bring that vision to fruition – building not only the product itself but a viable business plan.

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On Sunday the teams presented the final product to a panel of judges, which then chose a winner.

And the winners are…

Best Community Startup: Farm2Family sought to get food to low-income “food deserts” that lack access to fresh produce. To do so in an affordable, efficient way, project manager and recent graduate from the California Food Literacy Center Aimee Darville sought to collaborate with local farmers’ markets, purchasing excess produce and selling it below market rate via a mobile food truck.

Farm2Family won $200,a one-hour mentorship session, and one month of free coworking at Hacker Lab.

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The Farm2Family team

Darville’s next move is to meet with Amber Stott, the Director of the California Food Literacy Center, to craft a business model and plan the initial steps for making Farm2Family a reality.

“California Food Literacy Center is thrilled by Aimee’s win on this project,” Stott said. “Bringing increased food literacy and access to fresh produce will fill a critical need. We can’t wait to see this mobile truck on the road.”

Third Place: GlobalCastingPro is an online resource for actors and casting directors, founded by Sara Bachelder who co-owns casting agency Casting Valdes. A searchable talent database designed to streamline the casting process for all industry professionals, GlobalCastingPro seeks to allow easier collaboration across borders.

The team plans to move forward with their database , the beta testing version having been released over the weekend.

“We already have talent signed up from nearly every continent and several U.S. based directors signed up to use the site,” said team member and music video producer and director Stefan Anderson. “Of course, Sara and I will use GlobalCastingPro for casting all our future projects. We are excited!”

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Stefan Anderson presents GlobalCastingPro

Global Casting Pro won one-month of free coworking at a local space, a one-hour mentorship with Sac Angels and a startup book bundle courtesy of Upstart Sacramento.

Second Place: Caleb Hodges swooped in for his dea pitch armed with loads of research and wearing a Superman costume. His vision? Appraise Blaze, a software program designed to streamline processes for commercial appraisers that included a mobile inspection app and automated form-filing.

Appraise Blaze won two months of coworking at a local space, a two-hour mentorship with Sac Angels, a book bundle from Upstart Sacramento and one year of free Adobe Creative Suite.

“I’m definitely going to move forward with this whether I get investments or not,” said Hodges. “I already have a few people interested in investing smaller amounts of money. I’m planning on selling it to the clients, getting them discounted rates so that I can use their money to fund the actual development of this product.”

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Hodges and teammate Orion present Appraise Blaze

First Place: Doug Ridley led his team to creating Mobile Instant Command Control to address the outdated “whiteboard” system currently in place for responding firefighters to record and process information when out on calls. MICC is a mobile application that will enable first responders to act and record more efficiently. The product not only aims to make it easier for firefighters to respond to emergencies, but because data that would previously have been wiped off a dry-erase board can now be stored, MICC would also help facilitate more effective training.

“We’re going to build it,” Ridley said. “We’re going to look for some grant money, some funding, and we’re going to get it built, launched and implemented.”

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the whiteboard system (left), and what MICC’s system would look like (right)


MICC will receive two months of free coworking at local spaces, a showcase pitch with The Founder Institute, a three-hour mentorship with Sac Angels, a year of Adobe Creative Sweet, and two passes to sit in on a Sac Angels dinner meeting.

The winning teams of Startup Weekend Sacramento ran the gamut – the arts, business, agriculture and public service, proposing solutions to a diverse set of problems.

Lloyed Lobo, co-founder and head of marketing for Boast Capital and the Startup Weekend facilitator sent to help the Hacker Lab crew run the show, had some advice for those teams hoping to keep the weekend’s momentum. He stressed the importance of customer validation, urging teams to talk to five to seven individuals in their target market each week in order to stay on track.

“And find resources,” he said. “Connect with guys like Hacker Lab, connect with accelerators and see how you can take this idea further. Fill the gaps in your team and just build. Sell shit and then build shit.”
Live coverage of the weekend below: 

Editor’s note: The “News Digest” goes out every Tuesday morning and highlights our best stories, photos and videos from the week prior. Sign me up.

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