By Alexander Soule
If it may be too much to hope for Startup Weekend Stamford to produce the next Bill Gates, it may yet help frustrated Microsoft customers who have a few thoughts on what Gates should have produced next.
With their Help Button Excel, Rick Rosenthal and Mike Melmed won the fifth annual Startup Weekend Stamford business plan competition with Rosenthal’s idea to provide instant, hands-on assistance for people wrestling with Microsoft Excel spreadsheet functions, graphics and macros.
A panel of three judges had Excel Help Button in a virtual tie with Metwork, which developed a social media app to help employees in large corporations get to know each other better and to help them cement ties with mentors. Third place was In Situ with their “Flash Capsule Pro” designed to house camera flash devices during watery photo shoots; while the “crowd favorite” award went to The Flocking News for a trendy news website offering story snippets along with feedback functionality.
The fifth annual installment of Stamford Startup Weekend drew about 50 participants to the Stamford Innovation Center who formed nine teams coalescing around business ideas that ranged from a method to block pain during surgical procedures without the use of anesthesia; to a nonprofit to begin training kids at age 14 for digital careers. Contestants were given 54 hours to form a plan to “pitch” to judges, with winners receiving free co-working space at the Stamford Innovation Center and other services.
Last year’s Startup Weekend Stamford winner was SlipShare, with an app to help yachters reserve dock space when on cruises.