Kansas City Mayor Sly James stepped up this Sunday to help a team of entrepreneurs win a competition in which they built a business in 54 hours.
James, a well-known cheerleader of Kansas City’s startup community, helped political-tech startup 1 Minute Candidate launch its platform at Startup Weekend Kansas City, a event in which entrepreneurial-hopefuls compete to create new businesses in little more than two days. 1 Minute Candidate — which created a digital platform that allows political candidates to upload a one-minute campaign video for millennial voters — tapped James’ political savvy as its first user, leading it to win the competition.
“One of the guys on the team said we should reach out to Mayor James to get him involved,” said Matthew Marcus, 1 Minute Candidate’s team leader. “[Mayor James] was at an event recently and had spoken about millennials needing to get more involved in voting, so we knew this was important to him.”
With the help of Think Big Partners Managing Partner Herb Sih, the team was able to pitch their idea to James over the phone. The next day, James called them back and said he would stop by the event to participate as the team’s first user. James eventually filmed and uploaded a 60-second campaign clip to 1 Minute Candidate’s platform.
“It felt like good timing with the June 23 elections coming up, and Mayor James’ passion for getting millennials to vote,” Marcus said. “When we tied those things together, he thought it made a lot of sense [to participate].”
8 teams built business ideas at the twelfth Startup Weekend Kansas City. A panel of judges awarded 1 Minute Candidate first prize, Heal the Onion second and Food Near third. Heal the Onion created a platform to help patients locate pain practitioners based on type of pain, patient ratings and location. Food Near created a platform that helps connect travelers looking for particular types of food with restaurants wanting customers.
Organizers of Startup Weekend said the event presents an easy opportunity for curious entrepreneurs to dive into the early-stage business community in Kansas City. More than 60 percent of the 40 participants were competing for the first time, Startup Weekend co-organizer Bob Specht said.
“This time we saw a lot of participants that had never been a part of a startup weekend before,” Specht said. “This type of environment allows people who are new to the startup community in general to get a taste of it.”
1 Minute Candidate leader Marcus said that his team offered a nice blend of talent that helped it win the competition. He suggested that others interested in the competition should try it as an opportunity to connect with those in the startup community.
“It was a fantastic experience,” Marcus said of Startup Weekend. “I would highly recommend it to other budding entrepreneurs.”