July 13, 5:03 PM click here to comment > 1
An update from the winners of Startup Weekend GOV
The City of Seattle hosted the first-ever Startup Weekend GOV at City Hall from April 27th-29th. It was similar to other Startup Weekend events, but with a specific focus on using public data from local governments to launch new companies over the course of a weekend. The first-place prize included lunch with Mayor Mike McGinn, and the two teams that tied for first place, WhichBus and Art Rover, had their lunch meeting with the mayor earlier this afternoon.
WhichBus is a simple but sophisticated transit routing and mapping app, and Art Rover is a mobile app that helps tourists and locals alike explore public art in Seattle via their smartphones. The WhichBus team formed initially at Hub Seattle’s #SocEnt Weekend in February and then added some members at Startup Weekend GOV; several of Art Rover’s team members already knew each other from Seattle Central Community College and started working on Art Rover on the 27th based on a recommendation that a City employee passed along from online feedback. Both teams are competing in the Evergreen Apps Contest, which Mayor McGinn announced during his opening remarks for the weekend. Their apps are still in development, but WhichBus and Art Rover both have plans to launch to the public before the end of the year.
The meeting this afternoon consisted of demos by each team followed by conversation with the mayor about everything from their business models (he recommended focusing on an existing operational need and working backwards) to Startup Weekend GOV (everyone urged him to host another one, and to do more apps contests like Evergreen Apps) and his favorite apps that use City data (two he highlighted were Seattle City Light’s outage map, which was invaluable during last year’s snow and ice storm, and Rain Watch, a partnership between Seattle Public Utilities and the UW that he uses for his daily bike commute).
The mayor wrapped up by talking about the importance of using technology to help people connect offline and letting both teams know how proud he is to be able to brag to other mayors about all the great tech startups that we have here in Seattle. As he put it, because of our high concentration of tech talent “we should have the best government apps anywhere.” It’s clear that thanks to local organizations like Startup Weekend and Hub Seattle and committed individuals like the WhichBus and Art Rover teams, Seattle is well on its way to that goal.
Posted by: Sol Villarreal