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Microsoft is very proud to have been premier sponsors of the Startup Weekend Wellington. The sponsorship came from the Microsoft BizSpark program, a 3 year program to help early stage startups succeed by providing them with software, support and visibility. I was there for the entire event so here’s a roundup.

The event was kicked off on Friday evening by Wellington city mayor Celia Wade-Brown, who talked about the importance of startups and encouraged everyone to get moving and take their ideas forward.

This was followed by Alexei Dunayev, from startup Audioscribe. Alexei gave some great advice on how to be successful and take advantage of the people and resources made available to them over the weekend. Audioscribe were the winners at the Startup Weekend Auckland back in September 2011. They have recently joined the BizSpark program which they will initially use to expand their Talk Transcriber solution to the Windows Phone platform.

From here a great game called Half Baked was played where randomly formed teams drew buzzwords from a hat and had to come up with a pitch based on those words. Some of the ideas were so good they ended up becoming a main pitch later in the night!

On to the main event of the first day: a host of ideas were pitched, with the 14 best making it through. This included Mobile Kombat, a gaming platform for Windows Phone, iOS and Android users to compete against each other.

Saturday the teams solidified their ideas, developed business plans, went through market validation, received advice from mentors, and created proofs of concept with the help of mentors and others involved. In true startup weekend style I also gave my own two minute pitch on Microsoft’s support of the event and the benefits of the BizSpark program.

Finally, on Sunday night after working through the final kinks and doing trial runs, the teams presented to everyone what they had accomplished over the weekend, followed by questions from mentors and judges.

After some deliberation the judges came back with the winners:

· USnap.US (1st place) - Guest-sourced wedding photo aggregation.

· Conscious Consumer (2nd place) - The ultimate tool for the Conscious Consumer.

· Well Done (3rd place) - The new app for parents and kids to achieve things together

Congratulations to the winning teams! For a full list of teams and descriptions check out the Startup Weekend Team Summaries post on the Startup Weekend Wellington blog.

I had several conversations about the BizSpark Program, Windows Phone, and the Windows Azure Platform, Microsoft’s interoperable, scalable and reliable cloud platform. There was also interest at the event in the possibilities of the Kinect sensor. For example, team Well Done, the 3rd place winner, will investigate Kinect and how it can play a part on the parenting applications they are building; and team Auti, who received an honourable mention from the judges, clearly sees the possibilities of how Kinect can help autistic children along with their product.

As a final note I’d just like to say the vibe and intensity at the event exceeded my expectations. I look forward to participating in future Startup Weekend events, and encourage you to the same.

Thiago Almeida
Technology Evangelist
Microsoft New Zealand
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