ing for the 2016 Paralympics triathlon.
(Her left arm was amputated
in 2008.) She’s taken the weekend
off to come here in the hope of
figuring out how to relaunch
Cawthon stands beside her team.
“You got some ideas? Throw ’em
out,” she says.
A whiteboard in front of them reads
“Who’s our market? Is it going
to be preteen? People in general?
What makes us different from all
the other apps?”
The team members jump in with
ideas. One of them suggests they make
it more shareable by adding social-
media features. Cawthon mentions
packaging the game for a corporate
buyer like Raid.
Later, I ask Cawthon whether she
thinks she can successfully relaunch
“Hey,” she says. “You never know.”
It’s the afternoon of Day Three. pitches start at 5.
The official tally of coffee consumed: 36 gallons.
The Del Monte shopping center smells
like lip gloss and Wetzel’s Pretzels.
Rick Brandley, the founder of Wan-
2Learn, and his friend Trevor Randall
have come here to survey potential
users of their site. Once they have 100
survey responses, they feel they will be
in a strong position to defend the brand
on Sunday night.
“Theoretically,” their survey pitch goes,
“would you use a website that connects
instructors who want to teach stuff with
students who want to learn stuff?”
Randall holds a clipboard in his
hands. On it, there’s a sheet of paper
with three columns: Yes, No, Maybe.
We enter a Macy’s looking for people
to poll. Brandley is wearing jeans and a
plaid spring coat. He has a thick neck,
little black eyes, and hair the color of
orange Gatorade. He sells insurance
part time, and right now he’s using his
best salesman approach.
He saunters up to three nice-smelling
women at the perfume counter.
“Ladies,” Brandley announces. “We’re
doing this thing called Startup Weekend,
where you start a business in one week-
end. Can I ask you one question?”
The women seem suspicious. One of
them looks behind us, as if she is expect-
ing Ashton Kutcher to jump out at any
minute. Brandley reads the question,
and tepidly, the three women nod in
unison. Randall records three yeses.
Mexican dinner is served, and teams are
scrambling to finish their prototypes and
begin assembling presentations.
Michardiere’s fingernails are nearly
chewed off, but he seems happy. The
team has made progress. Marcus Bell,
one of Michardiere’s developers, has
called in a classmate to help with some
of the design work, and he’s already
sent in a logo. The team is also meeting
with Matt Coombs, a Startup Weekend
coach and a serial entrepreneur-turned-college administrator.
“If I’m looking at this as an investor,
I want you to be able to tell me why this
business model is sexy,” he says.
Coombs explains that Bubblio.com’s
core value proposition to investors
wouldn’t necessarily be its monthly
fees but the aggregate data it could
collect. “If I’ve announced that I’m
pregnant on Bubblio, you can now sell
that in aggregate to every neonatal
company,” Coombs says. Michardiere
smiles and nods.
Over at Team Moocher, Aguilar is
crouched over his three developers, who
have already developed a basic Moocher
app. “Sleep?” says Ugar Oezdemir, one of
the developers. “What’s that?”
Cockroach Crunch is struggling. The
online survey the team sent out crashed,