There have been more than 700 Startup Weekends held in 110 countries. Usually, the weekend offers a springboard for products like mobile apps or software programs, ideas that don’t need a lot of money, staff or space to get started.
But at Binghamton Startup Weekend, the winner is getting into manufacturing. Cathy Kuzia pitched a 3-D printing business that would create replacement parts or prototypes for factories.
Working towards a launch
“The concept is that we can then, whether the part is broken or it’s modified or they have something completely new that’s a 3-D design, we can then reproduce it into a compatible 3-D format so it can be printable,” says Kuzia.
Kuzia is originally from Johnson City. She has a background in the printing business and recently moved back from San Francisco.
“My thinking is is that, now that I’m back in the area, there are no jobs for me. I have to create one,” says Kuzia.
Kuzia says in the traditional printing business, they’re already hiring 3-D printers to finish jobs for them - sending off plans to the 3-D printing company and waiting for a FedEx envelope with the part in it.
“And I like making things and I like things that are tangible and I think there’s a big background in the area of engineering and manufacturing that is a lot more tangible to existing businesses here than a mobile app,” says Kuzia.
But there’s one big problem: she doesn’t have a 3-D printer. There are inexpensive ones, about 1500 dollars. But for her business, she’s looking for one in the 25 to 50 thousand dollar range.
Kuzia says she didn’t have a fully formed idea for the business before the Startup Weekend, but now she plans to start by creating prototypes.
“Then literally have a demo case and knock on doors like Fuller Brush because the people that I’m going to, they don’t have websites, they don’t go to trade shows, they don’t even know this exists," says Kuzia.
"And it’s really an education process and it’s got to be face-to-face with actual live products to really demonstrate what this can do.”
She says it’ll take at least a year to get her idea off the ground.
An old-fashioned startup weekend idea
In second place was a more traditional startup idea: a software program that translates data into music. A computer science grad student at Binghamton University named Tony Worm came up with the idea.
To demonstrate his program, he's turned data collected by researchers studying climate change in Lake Mendota in Wisconsin and used a musical scale to sort, and make sense of it.
“I just took one of those data streams, particularly dissolved oxygen, and I applied a few mathematical transformations to it, which mapped it onto the notes of the C Major scale and then you just play each note according to what each part of the data maps to,” says Worm.
Worm says the idea eventually is to have a computer program that can react to the notes a musician is playing and play music along with them. He expects to launch in about six months.
Like Kuzia and her 3-D printing business, Worm says the next step is to start getting samples into people’s hands and see how they respond.