Students launch mobile app venture at Startup Weekend

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Students launch mobile app venture at Startup Weekend

A business idea by Fresno State student Renan de Lima became a reality when his MenuFire mobile application was one of 10 finalists selected for development at California State University, Monterey Bay’s Startup Weekend.

A junior business finance major from Tulare, de Lima pitched his business idea for MenuFire in Monterey Jan. 23-25 at the global event that brings together developers, designers and startup enthusiasts to form ideas, build products and launch full-scale startups.

He competed against 30 other students to land in the top 10 with his mobile application to streamline the restaurant ordering process and serve as a software solution for local restaurants that don’t have the infrastructure to develop online ordering systems.

On the first evening of Startup Weekend, participants have 60 seconds to pitch their ideas and convince others to vote for their startup. The top ideas are selected and groups are formed to build a prototype that can be presented on the final evening of the three-day event.

“I wasn’t sure how feasible my idea was or whether it would generate a lot of interest, but I figured Startup Weekend was a low-risk setting where I would be able to gauge for possible interest,” de Lima said. “It was definitely a very pleasant surprise when my idea was selected.”

He and junior Matt Peranick, an entrepreneurship major from Fresno, worked with a team of six students from other colleges at the event to develop the application, which uses geolocation technology allowing customers to locate nearby restaurants, order their food and pay for it all through the MenuFire platform.

Peranick and de Lima are both members of the Fresno State Smittcamp Family Honors College, and   the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship CEO Fresno Club.

Their team developed and presented the working prototype for MenuFire in just 54 hours during the competition. It’s an undertaking that some students do not complete in an entire semester, said Dr. Eric Liguori, assistant director of the Lyles Center, who accompanied the students to Monterey.

“I have always been extremely passionate about entrepreneurship and the startup culture, but there is really only so much you can learn from a textbook,” Peranick said. “Startup Weekend gave me the opportunity to apply all of the principles I learned in the classroom on an actual venture.”

The duo plans to continue to finalize the application and in April will apply for seed stage funding through the mini grant process of New California Ventures, LLC, Liguori said. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the Fresno State Foundation, New California Ventures provides consulting services and some financial assistance to help launch private commercialization efforts.

“MenuFire is still in its infancy,” Liguori said. “Renan and Matt are working on validating the proof of concept and there is every reason to believe the application could evolve into an investment-worthy venture in the coming months.”

For more information, contact Liguori at eliguori@csufresno.edu or 559.294.2045 or Renan de Lima at renan@mail.fresnostate.edu.

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