What do you get when you mix 40 entrepreneurs, HomeAway's restful API, a comfortable office space and 72 hours of sleepless collaboration? Six new startups!
Over the weekend of March 27-29, HomeAway partnered with 3 Day Startup (3DS), a non-profit organization focused on developing the entrepreneurial capabilities of students and professionals, to host an innovation summit with the goal of building new products for the vacation rental marketplace. The "learn-by-doing" event gave participants the opportunity to work with HomeAway mentors, 3DS thought leaders and new team members to jump-start new ventures. At the end of the weekend, the goal is to have formed actionable project opportunities that HomeAway could potentially invest in to elevate the travel industry.
Bryon Jacob, Principal Architect of HomeAway and Carl Shaulis, Director of Quality Engineering worked with 3DS to put on the inspirational event at HomeAway's Domain office in Austin, Texas. Participants were given sneak-peek access to a prototype for HomeAway’s Open API, which they leveraged to bring their business ideas to life. HomeAway engineers who built the Open API were on-site throughout the weekend to provide technical support and get feedback directly from the participants.
On the first night, there were 14 unique projects pitched. The participants used lean methodologies (Lean Canvass) to expand and refine their ideas, and the rapid prototyping process quickly organized the group into six teams.
On Saturday, the teams took to the streets for some market research to validate their concepts. The new ideas that emerged from the weekend-long process of refinement, research, and more than a few pivots were:
- Crowd Tripper – A platform for like minded people to find each other and facilitate a vacation together using HomeAway, building a platform that establishes trust and interest for travelers. “People do not want to travel alone.”
- ProtostavR – Virtual Reality technology allowing vacation photos to be stitched together into awesome vacation memories. “Re-experience your vacation forever.”
- Ubtane – a geo location based mobile application to rapidly add your vacation experience to sharable lists. “Find and remember the places you love.”
- TasteMine – a Facebook application that uses an image selection survey format to determine your specific travel preferences and collate them into a profile. “What type of vacationer are you?”
- DelegateIT – a mobile concierge service that leverages a shared economy to find the items travelers would like to have during their vacation rental stay experience.
- PriceRangr – a rate recommendation engine for vacation rental suppliers. Notification of surging markets or degrading markets so homeowners can optimize their rates and not leave money on the table.
On Sunday their efforts culminated in the opportunity to pitch these ideas to a seasoned group of panelists:
Ross Buhrdorf - Chief Technical Officer, HomeAway
Ajay Waghray - Product Owner, HomeAway Mobile
Tom Foster - Editor at Large, Inc. Magazine
Abhi Bhatt - Director of Product, Developer Platform & Wearables, Under Armour
Peter Li - Founder - Chief Executive Officer, Atlas Wearables
David Chait - Chief Executive Officer, Travefy
The panelists explored each company’s problem space, technical solution details, monetization, growth strategies and value to the vacation rental marketplace. The entrepreneurs were gracious and poised under fire.
Unlike many “pitch competitions” there are no winners and losers in 3DS events. The goal is to see what you can accomplish in just three days when you bring together bright and motivated entrepreneurs and put them an environment where they can collaborate in interesting ways. From that point of view - mission accomplished! 3DS HomeAway highlighted the wide range of ideas to explore in this industry, and that supporting entrepreneurs with the right platforms can kick-start those ideas into reality in an incredibly short time frame.