Startup Weekend Visits the Bluegrass State

12/06/2017 | By Aayat Ali

This post originally appeared on

Creating a startup has a reputation of being an intimidating and exhausting task, but the 80 attendees of Startup Weekend Lexington 2017 proved that theory wrong.  With the help of the Awesome Inc staff and support from prestigious coaches, each team was able to create and present their own startups in only 54 hours.

Friday night, attendees were buzzing with ideas with the hopes of becoming the next great startup. A game of Half Baked helped attendees' creativity flow, while easing the anxiety that naturally comes in the startup world. Everyone got the opportunity to network and get into the groove of meeting like-minded individuals in their community.

Individuals who came prepared with ideas were given the chance to pitch their ideas to the crowd.  Of all of these imaginative ideas, only a select few would be chosen to present their final pitches to the panel of judges at the end of the weekend.  After voting, the 11 teams were picked and went straight to work—some camping out at Awesome Inc until 2 a.m.

The next morning was filled with donuts, coffee, Red Bull and the adrenaline that comes with any time crunch. From marketing, to development and everything in between, each team spent the entire day figuring out the details of their startups with the help of experienced coaches. The feeling of innovation filled the air as the teams prepped for the pitches that could make or break them.

As Sunday approached, teams worked tirelessly to make sure their pitches were perfected. Using pizza as their fuel, the attendees were ready to pitch their brand new startups to a panel of three judges and an anxious audience.

Each team showed exemplary team work and persistence, but it was now up to the judges to pick the top three startups to come out of the 54-hour event.

Third place was GatherLEX, a team consisting of 8 attendees who wanted to create a new way to socialize with their friends. Similar to the console games like Jackbox, GatherLEX gives groups a chance to play their favorite board games using only their phones.

Second place went to team Smart Rotation.  Using some of the team's personal experience with gymnastics gyms, Smart Rotation pitched a new software that automates resource scheduling.

Finally, the grand prize winner was announced as Red River Resole.  The group consisted of Jay Hamilton, Shelby Jones, Brendan Thompson, Nicole Howley, and Shelby Perkins. Red River Resole brought attention to the fact that Kentucky is home to one of the most popular rock climbing spots in this part of the country, Red River Gorge.

"One of the main pieces of gear you need to climb regularly is a good pair of rock climbing shoes. These shoes are tight on your feet and are coated in a layer of rubber that helps you stick to the wall," Howley said. "As you climb, you wear away at this rubber and can get holes in your shoes that eventually force you to replace them with a new pair usually costing between $80 and $200."

Red River Resole would allow climbers to repair their worn down rock climbing shoes for much cheaper than sending them away to be repaired, or just buying a new pair, right here in Kentucky.

"Everyone who wants their shoes resoled should be able to get that done in a way that is timely, cost efficient, and convenient for them."

Howley says they are going to continue practicing repairing climbing shoes so they can perfect their startup and make a difference in their community.

Although every team didn't place as winners, the 80 attendees came away with a greater prize: the opportunity to build long-lasting relationships, learn more about the ins and outs of beginning a startup, and some even walked away with new jobs. Overall, it was another successful Startup Weekend here in the heart of the Bluegrass State.