Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending Princeton Startup Weekend. I went as a representative of Factual, which was one of the weekend’s sponsors, and to act as a resource for teams that wanted advice, feedback, or technical help.

If you haven’t heard of Startup Weekend, the gist is that developers, designers, marketers, product managers, and other professionals get together for two-and-a-half days with the goal of going from an idea to a developed product in only 54 hours. At the start of the weekend, people pitch their product ideas to the group and everyone votes on the most interesting ones. After the most promising ideas are chosen, people join the groups they are most interested in, and then everyone starts building! 48 hours later, each group demos what they have produced. All of this sounds a little crazy–and it is a little crazy–but the results are amazing!

At the Princeton event, there were a ton of great ideas on Friday night. Some of the highlights included:

  • BuyIn Pals - A Groupon-like site for home services. If several people on your block want their houses repainted at the same time, you should be able to negotiate a bulk discount with a painter.
  • Newsance – A way to see which news stories are important to your friends. If there’s an earthquake in Japan, Newsance will tell you which of your friends live there so that you can make sure that they are okay.
  • Hungry Tigers – A crowdsourced directory of free food on the Princeton campus. College students always appreciate the chance to get some free grub!

All of the teams did a terrific job and several teams used Factual data to power their product ideas. BuyIn Pals (made by Ashish J., Tony X., Patrick S., Snehal D., and Caren H.) used Factual’s US Places dataset to list home contractors that are nearby, while Hungry Tigers (made by Bryan R., Krithin S., Brendan W., William S., Caitlin C., and Willa C.) created their own dataset of geo-coded buildings around Princeton’s campus to allow students to see exactly which buildings and rooms had free food. Both of these teams presented very compelling demos and won prizes sponsored by us for building great applications on top of Factual’s platform.

The entire weekend was a wonderful experience, and I’d love to go to more events like this in the future. Aspiring entrepreneurs are everywhere, and Startup Weekends are great for showing just how quickly business ideas can be actualized. If you are feeling inspired, participate in a Startup Weekend near you! And if you use Factual data for your weekend project, we’d love to hear about it and to help out in any way that we can.