Eight teams took part in this month's successful tech-focused Startup Weekend for entrepreneurs in Tauranga, with the winners FLNT already signing up beta testers during the 54-hour session.

More than 40 individuals took part, pitching their ideas, then forming into teams to develop their proposals. FLNT's idea was for an app to revolutionise employee engagement and spark employee innovation. The support of the potential beta testers helped validate the potential value of the concept.

The judging panel was made up of Carl Jones, head of local innovation incubator WNT Ventures, Suse Reynolds of the Angel Association, Jodie Tipping from local firm Cucumber Media and Dr Simon McDonald from Rhondium, a Katikati-based innovator in the global dental products market. All the judges were glowing in their praise for this year's pitches, with three teams narrowly finishing as joint runners up.

Dr McDonald said it had been really difficult for the judges to decide on the winner.

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"I thought it was fabulous event and the quality was very high," he said.

"The FLNT app is an online suggestion box where anyone can suggest an idea, which would then transcend the multiple layers of management bureaucracy that often kill good ideas."

FLNT team member Clayton Morgan said the original concept was for an app called "Tinder for Ideas" where each suggestion was voted on, much like someone on Tinder.

"A team was formed around this concept, made up of talented people with diverse backgrounds. FLNT then developed when we started our research and validating. We determined that applying this concept to businesses would engage employees and enable senior manages to tap into feedback and creative ideas from their workforce."

Mr Morgan said the team had several organisations signed up to take part in testing FLNT.

"Going from idea to a full-formed business is thrilling and team FLNT is looking forward to working hard to create another successful Tauranga business."

A high-calibre group of mentors supported all the teams throughout the weekend, which was being organised for the fourth year.

Held again at Basestation, the tech focused co-working space, Tauranga Startup Weekend was this year also part of the Global Startup Battle, with events running in more than 200 cities worldwide over the weekend.

Clever concepts
In addition to FLNT's employee engagement app, the other pitches included:

* U! Get Off the Couch's app to help parents get their kids out of the house

* Flapp's system for connecting backpackers

* Be There Too's easy live streaming solution for large family events

* Safe Out's smart emergency evacuation system

* Happy Sprout's kitchen garden starter kits

* Arrive Social's carpooling app for students

* Tap's social recruitment model, which rewards referrers and successful applicants