Women’s Startup Weekend winners answer life’s tough questions
By Danielle Rebel
We’ve all had those “oh, crap” moments, wondering how in the world we’re going to get something done.
Whether it’s a flat tire when you’re late for a meeting, or an unexpected visit from your mother-in-law, the winning team from Women’s Startup Weekend in Fargo has you covered.
Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement for entrepreneurs to learn the basics of establishing startup companies in a short period of time.
Minnesota State University Moorhead alumna Hannah Savoy, ’13 (B.S. in mass communications and B.A. in communication studies), pitched an idea she believed would help solve issues many 20-somethings face daily.
“I don’t know how to do a lot of stuff that I should know how to do, so that’s how I got the idea,” Savoy explains. “After calling my dad constantly on how to do different things, I always heard a sigh after I asked a question, being like, ‘Oh, I should know how to do this, shouldn’t I?’”
Fellow alumna Kayla Duffney, ’14 (B.F.A. in graphic design and B.A. in film production), plus Keely O’Regan, Evan Balko, Brittany Butler and Sue Nelson, joined Savoy after she pitched her idea. They could all relate to the problems she described.
“It seemed like a fun idea and that’s what has involved a lot of people,” Savoy says. “We wanted to make sure we were having fun for the weekend, and our team worked really, really well together.”
The team created a BuzzFeed-like content source with short videos illustrating various how-tos. In order to suit a wider audience, the team expanded their focus and chose a name for the project: How the F?
“I think it appeals to everyone because it doesn’t have to be anything technical,” Duffney says. “We wanted to do checking your oil or changing a tire. But a lot of people go through divorces or breakups, and it’s now like, ‘How to be single,’ or, ‘How the F do I cook for myself?’”
While the team was unsure how people would respond to the project’s snarky, sarcastic name, judges and potential users reacted positively.
“We received a lot of feedback from moms at the startup weekend who said they’d love to use this app to send to their children, because they’ve received all those questions,” Duffney says.
Savoy, Duffney and O’Regan are employed at dogIDs and already have history working as a team, which they say played a part in finding success at Startup Weekend.
“When you have a crunch time of only one weekend you need the patience to hear everybody out, and if somebody doesn’t like your idea you’re going to have to accept that and move forward,” Duffney says. “We got really lucky because our team was awesome.”
“It was really interesting, because each group had its own unique experience depending on how their team worked,” Savoy says.
The women say their time at MSUM also had an influence on the weekend’s success.
“MSUM really had me ready to go when it came to teamwork,” Savoy says. “When I was on campus I like to say I was overly involved. It was really great though, because it gave me that sense of opportunity and urgency.”
Now, How the F? is moving forward with a small website. The team will be selling merchandise to help fund the content-based site, and hopes it continues to grow.
Though the weekend was chaotic, members say it was the experience of a lifetime.
“I highly recommend everyone do a Startup Weekend because you learn so much about how you function and how you function within a team,” Savoy says. “It’s amazing to see what can happen within 54 hours.”