GEARS TURN FOR STARTUP WEEKEND

GEARS TURN FOR STARTUP WEEKEND
STARTUP Weekend Brisbane is calling for local entrepreneurs, developers and designers to take part in its startup crash course, for the benefit of becoming part of the world's largest entrepreneurial community network.

Startup Weekend Brisbane's 2014 winner Christopher Drake (pictured above), founder of CarValues.co, says the weekend was 'one of the best experiences' of his life.

Local leaders in the startup space lend their expertise in critiquing and judging participants, such as River City Labs founder and managing director Steve Baxter (pictured right).

River City Labs will this year host the initiative between July 10 and 12, a weekend delivering participants lessons in pre-pitching, design, launch and evaluation.

Drake says he came to Startup Weekend with a simple idea and has since turned that into a platform that allows people who are looking to sell their car find the best place to sell it and how much to list it for.

"Unlike university, where it is all talk and no action, Startup Weekend takes you out of the building and has you talking to potential, paying customers," says Drake.

"It's all about validating your business idea, and making sure you are actually creating something that the market wants - not just wasting your time building something that has no business context."

Drake's business is existing in the very real business context of used cars, which he says is a 'very difficult environment to navigate'.

"I came up with the idea because I needed to buy a car, tried to find the cheapest place to buy one, then manually pulled information into a spreadsheet from lots of different sources and found in Melbourne I could buy the same car for a couple of thousand dollars cheaper  - so I flew to Melbourne and drove it back up to Brisbane and still saved money," he says.

"We pitched the idea at Startup Weekend Brisbane last October as a bit of fun, we then won and started to gain traction.

"Since then, CarValues.co has had discussions with a number of major car listing platforms and large car dealers which has helped us validate our business model further."

During this time, Drake also dealt with the blow of a cease and desist letter from Carsales.com.au.

"Startup Weekend shifted our thought process and we have since changed the business model and identified a much bigger issue at play in the process that we were missing with how we were formerly operating," says Drake.

"Now we are trying to build up a dataset of publicly available information using algorithms. 

"This information is typically held by one or two of the car dealers and we are currently in talks to legally obtain the information."

With regards to the broader picture, Drake says this process has in turn raised bigger questions about who actually owns car data and information found online.

"In the same way there are interesting issues surrounding ownership on social media, this extends to platforms like online car databases - who owns the information once you upload it online? Is it you or the dealers? Is it illegal when someone uploads something and someone else takes it?" says Drake.

Prize packages will be awarded to standout startup pitches.

Live tweets across the weekend can be found by following the official @RiverCityLabs account and the #SWBNE15 hashtag.

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