Start Up Weekend brought together 116 participants at the SYNERGY Business & Technology Center, said one of the organizers, UCSB instructor Kyle Ashby. “Opening and closing events on Friday and Sunday night of around 200 people in attendance,” he said. “We saw 54 pitches narrowed down to 21 teams by Friday night.”

Eighteen business teams were created and their ideas and prototypes were presented Sunday night. “During the weekend, they worked on their ideas and did market research, market validation, business model development, and designed and developed their mobile and web applications,” Ashby said.

The winners include:

Grand Prize – Chirp, a bird song and sound recognition mobile application, pitched by Tara Armbruster, of Santa Barbara;

Best Mobile – Artful, a mobile application that allows the user take a picture of an artwork and purchase reprints, pitched by Sky Gilbar, of Santa Barbara;

Best Business Model – Simple Submit, an online mortgage document submission service pitched by Jeff Bochsler, of Santa Barbara;

Best Market Validation – Text Connect, a texting service for event and group management, pitched by Santa Barbara resident Ethan Kravitz;

Best of Santa Barbara – Best and Bogus, a mobile application and website celebrating the best and worst of a community, pitched by SYNERGY Business & Technology Center founder Michael Holliday;

Crowd Favorite – Goal Stoke, a fitness motivation website and mobile application.

Participants came from as far away as Korea and Germany, but many were from Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles and San Diego.After presentations Friday, teams assembled with designers, developers and other business people to complete a start-up prototype by Sunday afternoon when judges evaluated them and selected winners. Mentors and guest speakers shared their insights and help teams sharpen their plans.

The SYNERGY Business & Technology Center resembled a collaborative bee hive of entrepreneurial activity, with men and women hunkered over their laptop computers sharpening their business plans while free food, refreshments and even a SKA BAND played in the background.

The three winning teams were awarded prizes and a chance to compete with other Startup Weekend winners elsewhere. Last month, Startup Weekends were organized in Ireland, Mongolia, France, Spain and Slovakia, as well as New York, Indiana and Colorado. Another is planned this month in San Diego.

Ashby, along with Michael Lewis of Ring Revenue, Ben Tucker of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Michael Holliday of SYNERGY, organized the Santa Barbara Startup Weekend. Ashby said it wouldn’t be the last.


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