By Saba Long
Weekend projects. We all have them but I doubt any of ours were as exciting as what the folks at Atlanta Maker worked on this past weekend.
The Georgia Tech Invention Studio partnered with the Coca-Cola Co. and General Electric to host a special “maker” edition of Startup Weekend, the second of its kind in the world.
Much like Startup Weekend focused on pitching and building software solutions, Atlanta Maker brought individuals together to brainstorm and construct physical prototypes in just 48 hours.
Fourteen pitches resulted in eight teams, including one made up of Georgia Tech students, and six functioning demos.
Just like the Top Chef episodes where the teams get an assignment, budget and race to the grocery store to gather their ingredients, the Atlanta Maker teams hurried to hardware and electronics stores around the city to gather items needed to build their widgets.
One team proposed UShare, an umbrella-sharing portal for Georgia Tech students and faculty needing an umbrella when crisscrossing the campus. Users would swipe their Buzz card to receive the umbrella, incurring a charge of 50 cents or a dollar on their Buzz account. Other prototypes included a functioning speaker masked as a shelf and Magic
“This was a phenomenal event,” said Jen Bonnet, lead organizer for Startup Weekend for the state of Georgia. “I decided to do it because I felt my co-organizer Maria Joyner and I have done an amazing job of pulling together the startup community – web and mobile technologists — but the hardware-based companies should also be a part of our community. I’m thrilled with the way it worked out, and I can only hope that it will turn into something more.”
Six years ago, Bonnet launched StartupChicks at a time when the local startup community seemed disjointed. Joyner, Bonnet and others are building a strong, diverse startup network that has even gotten the attention of Atlanta’s City Hall and the city’s development arm, Invest Atlanta.
The next Startup Weekend will take place the weekend of Nov. 8, followed by the city’s second government hackathon.