Secretary of State Wayne Williams (left) congratulates GetRouted, one of the winning teams.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams (left) congratulates GetRouted, one of the winning teams.

Seven Colorado Springs teams gave their start-up ideas a fighting chance on April 3 — building, adjusting and pitching their business concepts, with two teams selected to compete in the statewide competition May 26.

About 35 local entrepreneurs and developers put their skills together during the third annual Go Code Colorado challenge, developing sustainable apps with state data for local business use. The event took place at Epicentral Coworking downtown; Colorado Springs winners will compete for $25,000 during the final round in Denver.

The teams were challenged by Secretary of State Wayne W. Williams, who attended the event, to “create an app and business concept that helps businesses build a competitive strategy.”

“The challenge was broader, allowing teams more freedom this year to take it in a lot of different directions and spark innovative thinking,” said Lisa Tessarowicz, Epicentral co-owner and a competition judge. “From a judging standpoint, it made it really interesting.”

“Challenge Weekend” also kicked off in other competing cities: Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Durango and Denver. Through Sunday, teams formulated their business apps and worked with mentors to analyze and validate their plans.

Teams had exactly five minutes to pitch their concepts in front of judges and the public.

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“It was neat to watch the team dynamics; they were much like startup dynamics,” said Royce Gomez, executive director of Peak Startup. “Early on, some mentors pointed the lack of confidence they noticed in participants and then said they were amazed to see the confidence they had gained during presentations.”

Although picking the top teams was difficult, Tessarowicz said the judges went with who they thought would be most competitive at the state level.

“We looked for the strongest teams and how big of impact their ideas could make for businesses,” she said.

Chris Deptula, senior data engineer for Inquidia Consulting, said he participated because he thought it’d be a good way to get more involved in the Colorado entrepreneurial community.

His team, GetRouted, was one of the two teams selected to advance. They built a service app that allows triathlon and road cycling trainers to provide their clients with safe, effective bike routes.

“This is especially useful as coaches are working with increasing numbers of remote clients and do not know their roads well enough to provide recommendations,” he said.

The other winning team developed an app to assist corporate employers in finding employees who fit their culture.

According to Deptula, the mentors at Go Code were invaluable to the team.

“From working with them, I learned how to define a good business plan and growth strategy, perform market validation, and create and deliver a good pitch,” he said.

Although the team has a lot of work a head building on the app, Deptula said he is excited to be moving forward.

“Go Code is important for Colorado because it brings together teams that would never otherwise meet and enables new innovation,” he said. “I had never met my partner before Friday night, but we were able to work together to generate an idea and make it to the finals.”

Tessarowicz said the energy level and number of participants at Go Code continues to grow each year.

“The execution of ideas gets better and better,” she said. “I hope that continues and the event draws more diversity. There were only two females who competed this year.”

Go Code needs more business people, Deptula said, adding, “Despite its name, Go Code is not a coding competition, it is a business idea and implementation competition. We advanced out of the regional competitions without writing a single line of code; the coding starts now.”

The teams will further develop their ideas at the Mentor Weekend, April 15-17 in Boulder.