An app to make you a better public speaker judged best idea of Startup Weekend Breck |

An app to make you a better public speaker judged best idea of Startup Weekend Breck

Eli Pace
Summit Daily News
Teams polish their ideas during the sixth Startup Weekend Breck on Nov. 10 through 12 in Breckenridge.
Special to the Summit Daily


The sixth Startup Weekend Breck was Nov. 10 through 12 in Breckenridge with the goal of helping local entrepreneurs get a new idea for a startup business off the ground. The following were the top three ideas presented at the three-day event, as decided by a panel of judges.

1. iSpeakeasy — It’s a smartphone app that helps people overcome their fear of public speaking by allowing them to practice with coaching, feedback and other services.

2. The Lioness Experience — This idea pitched by Kimberlee Karr and Melissa Hoffman centers around creating a platform for empowering women through coaching, retreats and other workshops.

3. Waffle Day Café — The concept presented by Ross Pullen is essentially for a new chain of fast-casual restaurants that feature healthy, gourmet waffle options. Pullen also won the People’s Choice Award.

All it takes is one good idea. And for the woman who drove from Glenwood Springs to Breckenridge for the sixth Startup Weekend Breck on Nov. 10-12, it was also about facing one of her fears — public speaking.

Startup Weekend is an intense three days designed to help entrepreneurs and innovators launch new business ideas and startup ventures through a demanding schedule of workshops, presentations and teamwork.

The sixth Startup Weekend in Summit County returned to Breckenridge just in time for the beginning of the new ski season, and Lynn Aliya made the 100-mile trip with an idea that might help people overcome their phobia of speaking in front of groups.

During the kickoff event on Nov. 10 at Breckenridge Theater, Aliya was one of a dozen hopeful entrepreneurs given up to one minute each to pitch their ideas for a new startup business before a room full of local executives, entrepreneurs, designers, developers, students and other business experts.

Aliya’s idea for the “iSpeakeasy” smartphone app is described as “the Guitar Hero for public speaking,” event organizer Amy Kemp said, adding that Aliya was understandably a little nervous presenting it.

Most basically, the app allows its users to practice public-speaking engagements while giving them coaching, feedback and other support.

The app does this by tracking things like the number of times someone says “um,” in addition to taking video of his or her presentation and simulating how it would look in a real-world setting, such as at a board meeting, in a classroom presentation or during a wedding toast, for example.

The app is “game-ified,” Kemp added, which makes it fun as it rates people based on their performances as they practice speaking in public.

“Very few people go through life without having to face their fear of public speaking,” Kemp said.

Helping Aliya polish the business idea coming into the final presentations were some new teammates — Ryan Thompson, Mark Bellncula and Scott Byker — all of whom were strangers before Startup Weekend and assigned to Aliya’s team after the opening pitches.

Forty-four hours after pitching the idea, Aliya was back up on the same stage, making the final pitch of the weekend, this time with prototypes, financial models, market research and a go-to marketing strategy in hand.

For the finale, Aliya and her team had to convince a panel of judges — including Brian Blankenmeister of Alpine Bank, Breckenridge Town Councilwoman Erin Gigliello, Dustin Kelley of the Small Business Development Center and Vail Centre, and Dave Harris of Rockies Venture Club — that her idea was the best.

After the winners were announced, the new friends were high-fiving, hugging and celebrating their first-place win, Kemp said, adding that Aliya got a membership to ELEVATE co-working space, free consultation with attorney Adrienne Fischer, marketing and web development services from Imagine That!, T-shirts and other items from Breckenridge Distillery and other support services from Startup Weekend.

Additionally, the Startup Weekend event in Breckenridge was part of a worldwide event featuring more than 15,000 entrepreneurs through hundreds of Startup Weekends from Nov. 10-19 folded into the Global Startup Weekend initiative. Winning the local event also qualifies Aliya for the regional competition and a shot to continue on to the overall U.S. competition.

The other winners at Startup Weekend Breck were the Lioness Experience pitched by Kimberlee Karr and Melissa Hoffman, and the Waffle Day Café from Ross Pullen and Christina Ward, who also won the People’s Choice Award.


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