Team Including Alaskans Takes Second and Crowd Favorite at National Techstars Startup Weekend

May 4, 2020

MedFoyer Screenshot
Screenshot from Medfoyer 5 minute pitch. Image courtesy of Peter Webley.

MedFoyer, a virtual physician's office waiting room in which patients can wait for their doctor appointment from the safety of their car, was selected as one of the top 10 pitches made during the first fully remote Techstars Startup Weekend.

Startup Weekends are a 54-hour event where participants start with pitching an idea and then build a team to develop it into a prototype or minimum viable product through ideation, customer discovery and team evaluations. While previous weekends have been held in a city or community with local attendance, this online Techstars Startup Weekend in April, run at a country level, focused on solutions that directly tackle COVID-19-related challenges.

West and East coast remote Startup Weekend events took place. Alaska was well represented at the U.S. West event. Groups from across Alaska signed up, including from within the University of Alaska system.

UAF’s Peter Webley and Solomon Himelbloom, and UAA’s Nikki Holmes were among the participants. Nigel Sharp was technology lead with technology team members Arsh Chauhan, Nathan VanOverbeke, Addeline Mitchell and Izac Lorimer. UAF’s Ky Holland was the mentor lead for the U.S. West event. The UAF School of Management, along with Health T.I.E. (Testbed for Innovation Enterprises), were community partners. 

At the end of the weekend, teams developed pitches for a group of judges to evaluate and select the top 10 for the U.S.-based competition. Each team submitted a 5-minute video along with a pitch deck and any MVP/prototype.  

Webley, Himelbloom and Holmes, along with five other participants, developed an MVP for MedFoyer, “the waiting room of the future.” This virtual waiting room reduces social contact among other patients and healthcare providers and helps prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases.

MedFoyer was selected as one of the top 10 teams from across the national Startup Weekend teams. This gave them the chance to pitch their final presentation to three judges as part of a Live Stream event.

Additionally, the U.S.-based participants submitted “crowd favorite” votes for the best team and COVID-19 related idea submitted for final judging. Varna Health was winner of the overall event, with MedFoyer taking the crowd favorite vote and coming in second overall for all U.S.-based Startup Weekend teams.

“It was an amazing experience to be a part of this first remote Startup Weekend,” Webley said. “I joined a great team of medical professionals, software developers and entrepreneurial experts.”

This event highlighted the skills and capacity of Alaska innovators in startup development and in developing solutions for COVID-19 related needs.

 “It was a pleasure to be a part of this weekend” Webley added. “We had a great team dynamic with everyone working together and combining skills to build the final MVP for pitching. We will be continuing the journey well beyond the weekend.”

Webley recommended this experience for anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset who is interested in team-building, design thinking and innovative research and design. The live Youtube stream for the MedFoyer team 5-minute pitch can be found at