ANN ARBOR — A summer camp staffing system called CampGig.com was the winner of the $25,000 top prize at the economic development organization Ann Arbor Spark’s annual entrepreneur boot camp.
Breath of Life, software that promotes meditation, relaxation, stress reduction, and sleep induction, took runner-up and $10,000.
In the photo above, left to right, are Lee Gorman, Entrepreneur Boot Camp facilitator, Jonathan Goldstein, Ann Arbor Spark Director of Entrepreneurial Services Operations, and CampGig.com co-founders Brooke and Curtis McFall.A panel of experts made the decisions based on an investor pitch.
“This year’s Boot Camp cohort was a diverse bunch, ranging from online apps to a consumer product for newborns,” said Bill Mayer, Ann Arbor Spark vice president of entrepreneurial services. “What was impressive is that the tech ecosystem in Ann Arbor has room – and support – for so many different entrepreneurial endeavors. It’s exciting to think of the impact these emerging companies, which were strengthened by the Boot Camp experience, will have on our regional economy as they continue to grow and evolve.”
Boot Camp is designed for entrepreneurs who are prepared to assess and validate the feasibility of their business concept, build a business model, and find beta customers. Participants get hands-on assistance to test ideas over an intense multi-week program, interacting with multiple mentors and early stage investors.
The winning company, CampGig.com, brings camps and staff together via an interactive online platform. Its content and site functionality, designed by summer camp owners, reduces the time, effort, and money spent by camps every year when finding staff.
“The feedback and coaching we received while in the Boot Camp, including an emphasis on customer discovery, helped launch CampGig to the next level,” said founder McFall, describing his experience. “Everyone involved, from the Ann arbor Spark management team to the coaches, mentors, and other Boot Camp participants were fully engaged in the process, making it an extremely valuable experience for our company. The money we received from Boot Camp will allow us to ramp up our marketing efforts, hire our first employee, and continue developing our core software.”
Meanwhile, using only a smartphone, Breath of Life’s software measures respiratory rhythms of the user and generates a tapestry of soothing sounds that ebb and flow with the breath in real time.
“Ann Arbor Spark’s Boot Camp was immensely helpful for us,” said Breath of Life founder Ben Collins. “The customer discovery exercises really helped us test our idea in the real world, and will certainly impact our direction going forward. The mentoring sessions were completely game-changing. We were paired with people who’ve walked the same path we’re currently on, and it’s hard to overstate the value of those conversations. As far as the winnings go, we’re evaluating opportunities in marketing and user acquisition.”
More about Spark at www.AnnArborUSA.org.