Inaugural ‘Riverside Startup Weekend’ Hailed as a Great Success

Event has a distinct UCR feel as staff and students play a huge part in successful business startup event

smiling group photo

The winning Fetchit team poses with the judges at Startup Weekend. From left, UCR students Daniel Langridge and Chris Manghane, incoming UCR students Darrell and Daniel Peeden, Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, Inland Empire Tech Coast Angels President Molly Schmid, and Rajan Kasetty, CEO of Terrafore, Inc. Photo by Conley Read

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — For 54 hours on the first weekend of May, the Culver Center at the University of California, Riverside’s ARTSblock became the center of the high-tech startup universe — or at least Inland Southern California’s corner of it — as the venue played host to “Riverside Startup Weekend,” a three-day event that helps entrepreneurs learn the basics of founding startup companies and successful ventures.

Sponsored in part by The Kauffman Foundation, as well as Microsoft and Google, the non-profit Startup Weekend organization has held more than 1,000 events since its inception. The inaugural Riverside event was held May 3 through 5 and was organized in their spare time by UCR Computing & Communication (C&C) employees Mike Kennedy and Conley Read, along with their friend Benjamin Mueller. The trio have each been part of an organization called StartupIE that has the mission to bring together students, entrepreneurs and potential investors to build successful startup companies in the Inland Empire.

“Startup Weekends are designed to give both budding and experienced entrepreneurs the experience of what it’s like to work for a startup company,” Kennedy said. “Every community that has hosted one of these has had a surge of excitement about startup entrepreneurship and served as a vehicle for bringing together the local tech community.”

The event attracted 60 participants, including developers, designers and business entrepreneurs. On the first day, participants pitched their ideas, which were voted on by the group. The group then divided up into 12 teams, which spent the next two days developing their ideas and putting together a presentation for the three judge panel, which included Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, Inland Empire Tech Coast Angels President Molly Schmid, and Rajan Kasetty, CEO of Terrafore, Inc.

people seated at circular tables

Teams brainstorm in the atrium of the Culver Center during the inaugural Startup Weekend event. Photo by Conley Read

“The whole weekend is spent on defining a problem, creating a set of solutions (assumptions), validating those assumptions with people through online surveys, or face-to-face discussions, pivoting and iterating on the idea, developing a business model that has a monetary return on investment, as well as discussions on how to properly scale and attract/build your user base,” explained Alan Roy, a user interface designer at C&C who served as an adviser during the weekend. “In the end, these individuals from backgrounds in development, design, marketing, business, and law come together to create an ‘minimum viable product’ to present to the judges on Sunday.”

UC Riverside was well represented among the winners, with three current and two future students on the winning team and two alumni on the third-place team.

The winning team was led by twins Darrell and Daniel Peeden, both of whom will be transferring to UCR from San Bernardino  Valley College in the fall, and UCR computer science undergraduate students Chris Manghane, Daniel Langridge and Gabriel Limon. Their concept, “Fetchit – Friends that Deliver,” is a smartphone application that makes it “easier to make Starbucks runs.” While the idea may sound funny at first, its potential usefulness came out of real-world experience.

“Darrell works in an office and always goes on Starbucks runs for his co-workers, and sometimes after he has already been there,” Daniel Peeden explained. “We were thinking of a better way for friends, family and co-workers to share their time with their close circles when they are at a place like Starbucks which would allow them to get the order and process the transaction immediately. So they never have to worry about getting paid back and if they provide a good delivery to their friends, family or co-workers they could possibly receive a tip for doing so. That’s when we came up with our idea.”

The app allows people to tell their friends that they are at Starbucks and to ask if they would like anything. The friends have 45 seconds to place their order and pay electronically. They can also provide the purchaser with a small tip, of which Fetchit takes a small cut.

men on stage

UCR alums Richard Li and Greg Wong make their pitch for “LegalBeast.” Their idea finished third in the competition. Photo by Conley Read

The third place team was “LegalBeast,” which featured alums Richard Li and Greg Wong. The company would assist renters in getting their deposits back from landlords by submitting legal documents such as demand letters.

“The judges rate every pitch on customer validation, business model and execution,” Kennedy explained. “What most likely set the Fetchit team apart from their competitors was the simplicity of the business model and how it easy it would be to finish the product and bring it to market.”

While about 75% of teams stay together after the weekend, Limon said that his teammates went their separate ways when the competition was over. But he had nothing but high hopes for Fetchit, especially now that they have been accepted into a “start-up accelerator” program.

“We discussed with the Peedens that none of us would likely be able to stay with Fetchit after the competition,” he explained. “We didn’t ask for any compensation or equity, we were simply there for the thrill of it. I hope they can find co-founders to help them develop this product and take it further.”

The twins are now preparing their pitch to the Tech Coast Angels investors, continuing with development of Fetchit, and looking for new blood to join their team.

“We are excited about the opportunity to turn this company into a profitable company and hopefully help people all over the world share their time with their friends, family and co-workers,” Daniel Peeden said. “Any students that are in the computer science field or  business/marketing students that would love to help us work on this project or even economics majors that know a lot about the sharing economy are welcome to help us get this project into the market place.”

As for the event itself, Kennedy said it was hailed as a great success, and plans are already underway to make it an annual or semi-annual event. He expressed thanks to the sponsors and supporters of the event, including the City of Riverside, Cal Baptist University and local startup companies Signature.io and StopTheHacker, as well as volunteers who donated their time to support the participants.

“It really takes a community to make it a memorable event,” Kennedy said. “I have to really thank Interim Chancellor Jane Conoley, the Office of Research and Economic Development and Vice Chancellor Mike Pazzani, and the staff at the Culver Center; Jonathan Green, Emily Papavero and Leslie Ann Risinger.  We cannot thank them enough for their efforts.”

Kennedy added that holding the Culver Center itself was one of the biggest hits of the weekend. “The Culver Center is one of the most beautiful spaces in the city, if not the Inland Empire,” he said. “Sally Ng, our facilitator who was provided by the Startup Weekend global organization, immediately started tweeting and emailing her colleagues about the amazing place in which we were holding the event.”

“The chancellor was instrumental in allowing Startup Weekend to use the space at Culver Center,” Read said. “She recognized the importance of bringing together the arts and innovation in a creative place. The Culver Center venue gave inspiration to the attendees and helped them take their work to the next level.”

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-5893
E-mail: ross.french@ucr.edu

Additional Contacts

Conley Read, event organizer
Tel: (951) 827-3174
E-mail: conley.read@ucr.edu

Mike Kennedy, event organizer
Tel: (951) 827-4875
E-mail: michael.kennedy@ucr.edu

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