Startup Weekend Pittsburgh – Team Tagalong

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I had my doubts about Startup Weekend Pittsburgh. Sometimes it can be hard enough to get paying clients for design and illustration work; and after reading the description of the event on the site it seriously sounded like an introvert’s worst nightmare. But Josh swore I would enjoy the experience, create some good work, and make some connections. He also agreed to take Baby Sager all weekend. AND he bought my ticket. I’ve been trying to reach beyond my comfort zone, so… off I went.

Man, I hate it when he’s SO right.

March 28 saw 30+ pitches for potential startups, the attendees voted on the top 12, and everyone chose their teams. I went with a startup idea called Tagalong, an app featuring user-created tours of various cities. It was one of two that I had voted for that made the final round; they didn’t have a designer and everybody seemed nice right off the bat. Having only 10 minutes to choose the people you’ll be working with for a long intense weekend can be intimidating. So imagine my delight when I realize I kind of won the lottery.

The team headed to Union Pig & Chicken to brainstorm and get to know each other after Friday’s activities concluded, and at 9am on Saturday we got started. The launch of an app involved a lot of moving parts: marketing, securing advertising, market research, development, and I’m sure other aspects that I can’t think of because I had my head buried in illustrator designing a logo, graphics and an interface (with lots of help!) for our app.

It was seriously one of the most satisfying working situations I’ve ever been a part of. Everyone was a self-starter and seemed to know their strengths and what they could offer the team. No one needed to be babysat. Ideas were presented, discussed, critiqued in a positive constructive manner, and acted on.

By Sunday’s 5pm presentations we had a full social media presence, a working app with real user-created tours, and even paying advertisers. We gave iPhones to each of the judges for them to move through the app as we presented and…

…wait for it…

…we WON.

First place came with some sweet prizes, but honestly the best part about the weekend for me was working on a smoothly functioning team. Plus, being valued for what you bring to the table is a great feeling, and provided a great boost to my confidence. Who knows what the next few months — for me or for tagalong — will hold, but I feel even more excited about whatever comes my way.



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