Ten new startup ideas are percolating in the Fall 2015 Get Started cohort. Together, they will spend two months validating ideas and testing assumptions. Our Get Started program is based on the premise that a startup is not simply a small company, but rather a temporary organization in search of a scalable and repeatable business model. Many of the methodologies applied by the cohort draw upon the lean startup movement. We’ve adopted cutting edge thought leadership from some of the great entrepreneurial minds of our time, including Steve Blank, Eric Ries, and Alex Osterwalder.
This fall’s Get Started companies are diverse, but they have a few things in common, like a passionate founder and a big idea. Here’s a first-look at a handful of the cohort’s startups.
Pinnacle Education is a survey tool designed to provide feedback to school districts on their engagement of key stakeholders, namely students, teachers, and parents. In past months, they have had difficulty accessing high level school administrators empowered to make purchasing and vendor decisions, but after adopting sales and inquiry techniques discussed in the first week of class, they are having a very different problem: Keeping up with demand from interested potential customers!
Insilicom Inc., a big data solutions provider for researchers and scientists, gives users the power to analyze and draw relationships across diverse data sets. As a testament to the power of aligned connections, Insilicom recently picked up Domi Station’s co-founder David Lawson as a lead mentor. Lawson heads big data startup NewSci, a local success story that recently raised $500,000 in seed funding. More importantly, Lawson is a master of the sales and negotiating process, skills Dr. Jin Feng Zhang, Insilicom’s CEO, has not had time to nurture while solving complex data analysis problems in cancer research. By connecting to complementary skill sets, entrepreneurs can go farther, faster. Get Started has gotten Zhang out of the lab and driven him to talk to other researchers about their common data problems in order to find scalable ways to meet their needs.
At the other end of the spectrum, Looper Golf is investigating the feasibility and benefit of bringing caddie programs back to golf courses. What started out as a simple caddie sharing app has transformed into big ideas about getting the game of golf back to its roots and upending the golf cart market. The Looper team has a passion for golf and sees great opportunity in creating better golf experiences for those that love the game.
Hug Me is an application for connecting and sharing virtual and in person hugs. The mobile app, available for both iOS and Android, boasts 10,000 users all over the world, and has learned that while spreading positivity is the core mission, there may be creative ways to monetize the app's growing data streams. Stefy Bau, HugMe's founder, has gained feedback by interviewing current and potential users. She never misses the chance to give away a free hug, taking the lean launch mantra of getting out of the building to a whole new level.
Get Started is North Florida's place to try ideas on for size and assess feasibility. The customer discovery process helps identify whether there is a large enough market of demanding customers to sustain a business idea before investing substantial amounts of time and money into developing a full-fledged product. It’s an iterative quest toward product market fit. We look forward to announcing the winner of the $5,000 seed prize in October, as well as next spring’s 2016 Get Started cohort later this fall! We are proud to work with these local startups, and we applaud them for the bravery it takes to bring new ideas to market.