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Entrepreneurs Pitch Ideas & Form Businesses At UWF

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  Entrepreneurs of all ages gathered at the University of West Florida this weekend, to develop and offer ideas for new goods and services, during Startup Weekend at the UWF College of Business.

Wearing gray event T-shirts, the participants began a 54-hour marathon Friday night aimed at coming up with the next big business idea.

After dinner, pizza, snacks and soft drinks, some of the individuals gave one-minute pitches, with attendees voting for their favorites. Teams, those already formed or joined by individuals depending on their interest, then began their work. The facilitator for the event was Wendy Overton, the founder of the Louisiana-based Creative Louisiana. She had one simple question for the attendees.

“What are you doing here?” Overton asked, then fielded and repeated the responses. “To gain experience. Innovate. Learn about teamwork. Opportunities. Bring a product to market.”

Welcoming the groups to Startup Weekend was Tim O’Keefe, Dean of the UWF School of Business. He says the work fits in with the direction in which they’re taking in regard to educational experiences.

“What we’re trying to do with our students is get them actively involved in real business situations that they’re studying in the textbooks,” O’Keefe said.

On Sunday evening, 11 teams had five minutes each, plus a three-minute question and answer period, to make their pitches to a panel of local business leaders and financiers. One pitch, for a new camera system for law enforcement, was made by former Gulf Breeze Police Chief Peter Paulding. It’s a public safety app that would create a “pre-event recording.”

Another pitch came from a team led by Peter Goldsbury for the “Survival Institute.” The survival techniques cover some of the everyday emergencies, such as changing a flat tire, to ones that don’t come around very often, such as a hurricane.

Other goods and services up for consideration included a newly-designed gasoline can, an educational program for K-12, and apps to help you purchase clothing, and find a home.

At the end of the evening, the judges met, then announced their decisions. Survival Institute placed third; Cop Cam was second, and the winner of Startup Weekend was: a roadside assistance app called Lyfeboat.

Lyfeboat gets a prize package that includes free assistance in getting their business off the ground, in areas such as accounting, consultations, office space, and legal assistance. The two runners-up received similar, but smaller, packages.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.