For the second year in a row, the Northwest Arkansas Startup Weekend returned to Fayetteville to bring entrepreneurs and innovators to the northwest corner of the state.
This year’s events were held at the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub, and it was once again organized through Techstars Startup Weekends, an international company that has put on similarly styled events in more than 150 countries around the world. The signature sponsor of the event was Fayetteville’s own Startup Junkie.
The NWA Startup Weekend is designed to foster education for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
The first day’s events included pitching ideas, listening to guest speakers and forming teams to work on the creation of prototypes of those ideas. Teams began building early in the morning, and save for a few breaks for lunch, dinner and one-on-one coaching from some special guests, worked well into the night.
The final day some last minute revisions and final touches were applied, and then the big winners of the weekend were selected by a three-judge panel consisting of Dylan Enright, of the XX Fund, Rebecca Black of RevUnit and Meagan Bowman with OneStone.
First Place – Vibage
The team at NWA Startup Weekend for Vibage consisted of Jacob Evans, Tyler Tracey, Daniel Power, Kyle Sadler and Matthew Sij. They created an app that serves as a collaborative, community-driven music platform.
Essentially, Vibage performs as a crowdsourced music queue, very similar to a modern-day jukebox, albeit with a lot more interactivity. Anyone with a smartphone can add songs to the queue at a given location and all the songs within the queue are voted on by “likes” from everyone else connected at that place. The songs are then weighted, and they play in order from most likes to least.
The idea for such an app came to Tracey when he and friends would fight over auxiliary cords, constantly having to unplug a phone each time one or the other wanted to play a song. He wanted a simple way for all of them to connect to the same stereo output with the ability to personalize what songs they listened to, from their own devices.
As much of a game changer something like Vibage is for a group of friends listening to music, for business owners it is revolutionary. Coffee shops, bars and restaurants can utilize Vibage to not only provide the “vibe” that their patrons desire, but also promote customer engagement and retention. Most importantly, any subscription fees that a business pays to use Vibage includes the legal licenses to play the music.
Evans served as the UX and business plan developer for Vibage at the NWA Startup Weekend. Currently a senior at the UA, Evans holds a deep passion for optimizing relationships through emerging technologies and intends to be at the forefront of innovation in technology and user experience.
After finding success in a first-place prize in April, Evans is returning to his own startup retail software platform called Snag.
“Startup weekend was one of the most empowering events that I have been able to be a part of during my time here in Northwest Arkansas,” Evans says. “Each and every person on the Vibage team and the mentors and the judges were thought leaders in the conversation of technological business development. Entrepreneurship is a growing ecosystem here in Northwest Arkansas and Startup Weekend is critical for what ventures this area can accelerate forward in the near future.”