Business concept created by high school sophomore

LeAnn Bjerken

***Please note, Startup Weekend Spokane is an independent program. Startup Spokane is a collaborator and supporter of Startup Weekend, but the event is coordinated and planned by an independent committee.***

Startup Spokane, a program of Greater Spokane Incorporated, has named Lil’ Omelette, a web-based cooking class for children, the winner of its 2017 Startup Weekend.

This year’s winning idea was pitched by 16-year-old Bella Memeo, a sophomore at Spokane’s Riverpoint Academy.

“This is my first year, and I didn’t know what to expect,” says Memeo. “It turned out that a team of very talented professionals chose to form around my idea, because they believed in it.”

Memeo says she came to the event with an idea for teaching kids the basics of cooking, that eventually became Lil’ Omelette, a web platform that offers three different levels of cooking classes—beginner, intermediate, and expert—for children ages 5 to 12.

Megan Hulsey, program manager for Startup Spokane, says the site also aspires to include interactive characters to help engage kids, teaching them to navigate the kitchen and build cooking skills alongside their parents.

“It’s a really fun and creative idea for a business,” says Hulsey. “Some of the characters the team came up with over Startup Weekend are pretty cute.”

Hulsey says Lil’ Omelette was chosen by a team of judges at Startup Spokane’s annual entrepreneurship event held Nov. 10-12, at Avista Corp.’s headquarters, at 1411 E. Mission.

She says this year’s event had about 70 entrepreneurs participate, who presented about 19 different start-up ideas, the top 10 of which were selected as finalists. Over the course of the event, finalists and their supporters then worked together to conduct market research on their ideas while consulting with members of the business community on financial and legal matters associated with starting a business.

At the event’s conclusion, the top three business plans were selected, with the winners receiving $3,000 in legal assistance from Spokane-based intellectual property law firm Lee & Hayes PLLC as well as free membership to Startup Spokane.

Hulsey says as the first place winner, the Lil’ Omlette group now will work with Startup Spokane to determine future steps for the business idea, including trademarking characters and developing plans for the content of its online cooking classes.

She says the start-up idea also will be put into consideration as a competitor for Global Startup Battle, an event which pits winning teams from similar events around the world against one another in a global video competition.

Memeo says participating in Startup Weekend helped her to understand the work that goes into creating a business.

“I learned that it’s okay to take risks even if I wasn’t sure of myself or my ideas,” she says. “I went from someone who just wanted to attend and learn, to winning, and it really has boosted my confidence in myself.”

Second place at Startup Weekend was awarded to Sound Barcode, a marketing concept that involves embedding audio files in barcodes. Work Bid, a platform and service for homeowners searching for a contractor, won third place.

Companies created in past Startup Weekends include iCPooch, Beardbrand, and Spiceologist.