At the end of August, the Estonian startup scene’s biggest gathering took place. Garage48 is a meetup of hackers, designers, entrepreneurs and hobbyists, who join forces to create a startup in 48 hours, similarly to Startup Weekend or GameJam.

The event takes place twice a year. I was very surprised by the high amount of participation: 100 people came from various countries. Clearly, Estonia has a strong and enthusiastic startup scene. The organizers also invited mentors to help the teams: Jon Bradford from The Difference Engine, Michael Jackson from Bootcamp Denmark and myself. There were also some of the founding members of Skype bouncing ideas with the startups.

The program starts on Friday evening, where people have 15 minutes to come up with startup ideas. Then another 15 minutes to form up the teams, and off they go. The results are presented on Sunday evening, and they’re not as crappy as you think 🙂

The main point of Garage48 is to get the community together. People from different backgrounds work with each other, often for the first time, and decide to create something. It doesn’t matter if it fails. This makes it a great community building and educational event. Whether you’re a bored engineer or a student, it’s a good way to test the waters and see what startups are about. The event was a success and we are collaborating to bring it to Helsinki, tentatively in mid-November 2010!

The startups: 17 startups were created in the 2 days. Many of them are still active: you can follow their tweets here.

  • Defolio Winner of Garage48. A collaborative design website. To store and organize your projects. Free for open source, premium features available (more storage, more projects).
  • TagCloudCard Audience favorite. Create personalized business cards. Import your Facebook or Linkedin info, add keywords, customize, and print!
  • Smashr A game where you need to smash your phone to win.
  • Joinmybet A social betting site for game fans where friends can bet against each-other and one of the friends gets the “pot”. No commission fees, money from advertising.
  • Blurt.at Compare your opinion and take part in debates. Want to find out what people find in Justin Bieber? Blurt it out!
  • Timedrops Reminds you of feelings that you chose to write down, be those good feelings, bad feelings, ideas or logs of daily activities. The app randomly sends you reminders.
  • Bookcycle Reselling used books. Cheap delivery – crowd sourced.
  • Brrwr Connects people who are geographically or socially close to one another and want to borrow things.
  • CashMuse Converts your paper receipts into digital. You can easily track expenses and make smart decisions about your personal or company finance.
  • Quotista Share quotes and inspire your friends to read great books.
  • GoSpot.it A location-based service on mobile which allows you to spot and track interesting objects and persons at your location.
  • Doodle Roulette A Doodle game where your phone is used as a controller!
  • RichRats A Mafia Wars type game, with real friends, real venues, real groups.
  • YesMentor Helps people find a personal mentor to achieve personal goals. Set your goals, track them, find a mentor to achieve them.
  • GirlsConnect.org Networking site for small groups of women to find blind dates, etc.
  • Garage-Radio An internet radio station, were you can buy a song for your phone by sms.
  • Mõistatus.info A puzzle site where real people check your answers for the puzzles.