Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Q&A with CareBand and SwapBeat: What makes a winning idea?

Startup Weekend Bloomington gave teams 54 hours to launch a startup that would change the world.

Two of the three winning ideas were led by IU and Kelley School of Business students. The 1st place winner, CareBand, is a wearable wandering management solution for people with dementia. The 3rd place winner, SwapBeat, is a social commerce platform to buy and sell instrumental music between producers and recording artists.

CareBand and SwapBeat have moved on to the Regional track of the Global Startup Battle, and voting will determine which two ideas in the US Central/East region will move on to the global competition.

Voting ends tonight.

CareBand is a wearable wandering management solution for people with dementia. The CareBand team is Scott Trepper, Andrew Jones, Claudia Maria, Adam Sobol, Vince Rowold, and Chris Chu.

Vote for CareBand

SwapBeat is a social commerce platform for buying and selling instrumental music between producers and recording artists. The SwapBeat team is Mary Catherine Burns, Askar Akhmetshin, Sanjana Nayak, Chris Williams, Natalie Lamm, and Francis Mejia

Vote for SwapBeat

CareBand's Adam Sobol and SwapBeat's Christopher Williams sat down to answer a few questions about how ideas are born, and what makes a winning idea.

You had 54 hours to create a product/service from scratch. What were your steps?

CareBand: Last year at Startup Weekend, I pitched CareBand but there was limited interest. Over the past year, I continued to work on the idea, gained information through networking with professionals, and filed for a patent. With my continued persistence, I was fortunate to have a sense of the target market, the intended product, and the specific technology to allow the product to function. With this knowledge, the focus throughout Startup Weekend was on the business aspects. We considered the key components of taking a product at its prototype stage to market. This included gaining knowledge in many avenues including manufacturing, marketing, sales, operations, and distribution. We really enjoyed the suggestions and feedback from Kelley faculty and others who acted as mentors throughout the weekend. Using the information we already had, as well as our newfound business knowledge, we were able to create a comprehensive pitch.

SwapBeat: We began by using the lean startup model that the Startup Weekend leaders recommended. By using this model we were able to articulate our goals for the weekend and create the necessary steps to ensure success. With our vision in mind we then divided up tasks that best suited each member’s skill set. Responsibilities included creating surveys for customer feedback, developing a marketing strategy, and designing the actual SwapBeat website.

What inspired your ideas? Why instrumentals?

CareBand: The idea was sparked during a discussion with my father, an internal medicine doctor with a specialty in geriatrics. We were watching the local nightly news, which highlighted an elderly woman who had gone missing due to Alzheimer’s (a type of dementia). I was intrigued about how this could occur. My father explained the illness and its characteristics of causing wandering behavior. He explained that dementia is a slow regression in the cognitive ability of a person, and it is not preventable, curable or easily slowed. After some additional research, I discovered that more than 35 million people in the world suffer from dementia. Also that more than 60 percent of these people will wander during their time with the illness. I knew there had to be a solution. With my technical skills and creative thinking, I dreamt up CareBand as a way for people with wandering tendencies to stay safe living in their homes.

SwapBeat: I'm a music producer and recording artist by trade. I realized that there was no authoritative marketplace for the exchange of instrumental music. The current transactional system is inefficient, requiring artists to use several websites to conduct a single exchange. This realization birthed SwapBeat.

How did your team come together? 

CareBand: After pitching the idea at the beginning of Startup Weekend 2013, many participants came over to discuss the idea. I was thrilled to have provoked more interest. When teams were being formed, I was able to choose assets for the team. I had in mind the specific skill sets that the team needed and was able to piece together a strong team.

SwapBeat: It was honestly very random. At Startup Weekend we were able to choose to collaborate with whomever we wanted; it just had to be an idea we felt passionate towards. This worked in our favor because everyone on the team shares a love of music and has some sort of music industry knowledge. We are lucky it worked out so well.

What are your team’s strengths? 

CareBand: I firmly believe that people are not interested in what you do. People are interested in why you do it. The people helping with the project understand the reasons for the creation of the technology. They share my vision in seeing how this innovative product has potential to help the thousands of people suffering from dementia. The team understands that this creation allows caretakers of those with dementia to have peace of mind. This alignment in ideology is a true driving force in the success of CareBand.

SwapBeat: The SwapBeat team thoroughly represents the term “cohesive.” The skill sets we each possess are vastly different but complement one another. They include everything from coding to marketing to structuring a business plan. What sets SwapBeat apart, though, is the passion each member has towards the project. For us it doesn’t even seem like work.

What makes a good idea?

CareBand: Ideas are not developed overnight; they take hours of thinking and discussion. Someone once told me to approach ideas by figuring out what makes the idea bad. It took me a long time to appreciate this advice. I have come to realize, though, that entrepreneurial minded individuals are constantly coming up with new ideas, and they often believe that each idea they come up with is a great one.  However, it is when you contemplate an idea for a few days and analyze it from different angles that you truly understand if an idea is worth pursuing.

SwapBeat: A good idea is one that becomes a reality. Many people talk about good ideas they have but don’t actually take steps to create the product or service. This is not the case with SwapBeat. We set goals, we have weekly meetings, and we get stuff done. None of us see failure as an option at this point.

Why should people support yours?

CareBand: CareBand aims to increase safety and independence for those suffering from dementia. It is an innovative tool to assist caretakers in monitoring wandering behavior. There has been infinite effort on this project and it will continue until the idea can become a reality. Many people are ailing from this difficult disease. CareBand has an opportunity to minimize the associated challenges.

SwapBeat: We have received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. Artists and producers alike have told us that this would be a marketplace they use frequently. We already have a lot of support, and for that we are grateful. We want to show the world how efficient SwapBeat will make the online transaction of instrumentals.

CareBand and SwapBeat both are competing against ideas from these cities. Voting ends tonight for the regional track of the Global Startup Battle.

Who will you vote for? CareBand, the wearable wandering management solution for people with dementia, or SwapBeat, the social commerce platform for music producers and recording artists?

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