This weekend (June 3-5 2011) I pitched an idea called ‘Elegant Wedde’, basically an update for wedding websites. Out of 28 pitches my idea was close to last and was not selected as an official group to be moved forward. I have to admit that I was really bummed that

  1. I failed to deliver a killer pitch where everyone got it

     

    • Nobody wanted to work on my wedding website idea

       

      I was a bit biased and felt that my idea was just as good, if not better than some of the selected groups, so I went home pouted a bit and decided that I wasn’t going to join a group. I came back late on Saturday morning with the mindset that I would help out if needed and just enjoy watching the other teams to their thing.

      The rejection of my idea just did not sit well with me and I couldn’t not stop thinking about my idea, why the pitch ‘failed’, how could I evolve the idea and should I be working on it or continue sitting here drinking beer and chatting with the organizers. Around 1pm my opportunity walked through the door! A local designer I know, Antoine Valot (@avalot) showed up and I decided that I would say hi, tell him about my failed pitch and the concept to see what he thought. Needless to say we were in agreement that we had a good idea for a project that could get completed in the 54 hours (even though saturday was half over). We spent the rest of Saturday working on the idea and started building a landing page and some HTML5/CSS3 templates for the site.  Thankfully we were able to grab a Ruby Dev (@ryanbrioines) from Obtiva to help us with the backend code requirements.

      By Sunday afternoon @avalot, @ryanbriones and I were able to get a nice chunk of Ruby code with FB connect pulling most of the user data we needed, a landing page that looks amazing and conveys our idea to the user quickly, beautiful working HTML5/CSS3 templates and an awesome presentation ready for the Judges panel. There was some stiff competition from @SnapRanger & @whattheh, both had some really good ideas and unbelievable execution. When it was all said and done, 1/2 point seperated second and third place, and 2 points decided the winner.  I’m not sure there has been a closer race at any Startup Weekend event. The guys @whattheh, cranked out some great functional code and will have a nice product eventually. I have to say that @SnapRanger had AMAZING visuals and I was completely prepared for them to take the crown. I heard that they were going to present a working iOS demo and they pulled it at the last minute. I’m not sure if it would have made a 2 point difference or not, but a working iOS demo in basically two days is super impressive.

      I think a couple of the things that gave @nowforeverus the advantage over the other teams was

      1. Our Design & UX was good… really good, especially in a format like this.

         

        • We cranked out front-end & back-end code and were able to demo it in our 5 minute presentation

           

          • Clear & Focused Product!

             

            • A Name Change!

               

              Changing the name from ‘Elegant Wedde’ to ‘Now and Forever’ was the key moment for my idea, if we had decided not to make that critical decision I honestly believe we would not have been in the top three. The other difference I noticed between @nowforeverus and all of the other presentations was how the judges panel reacted to our product. We didn’t get the criticizing questions that poked holes in the idea or execution, most of the judges even said if this product was live today they would have signed up for it and paid money to do so. I’m not saying that they wouldn’t have done so with the other ideas, however the reaction they had for @nowforeverus was more anticipation and excitement for the product.

              I’m extremely grateful for Antoine Valote (@avalot) for helping me refine my idea and pushing me to make the name change. Also without the Dev help from @ryanbriones we wouldn’t be as close to a functional MVP as we are today. Now and Forever had an amazing birth and I’m going to make sure that it gets out of the gate and soon.

              You can follow us on twitter (@aaronkwhite, @avalot, @nowforeverus) or signup for more information about ‘Now and Forever’ here: www.nowandforever.us

              -Aaron