Team TLDR, winners of Startup Weekend Seattle. Judge Chris Devore is on the far right. Photo courtesy of Startup Weekend.

Just days before his resignation and candid goodbye letter, former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason sent out a Tweet a few months ago asking if it was possible to write a Gmail script to auto-reply and bounce emails longer than 50 words.

It certainly is, and one team at the Startup Weekend event in Seattle proved it well enough to win first place at the 54-hour marathon that brings people together from across the industry to turn ideas into prototypes and potentially even new companies.

At Facebook’s downtown Seattle office, 12 groups of developers, designers and entrepreneurs worked their tails off this weekend and presented demos in front of four judges Sunday afternoon.

Teams were graded on four areas: business model, execution, customer validation, and long-term viability. The team behind TLDR, an application that helps you “receive what’s relevant and respond with what matters,” took home first place.

tldrlogoChris Devore, a Seattle-area seed investor and advisor, judged the demos and said TLDR impressed him the most.

“Ultimately a startup requires teams to execute with quality under tight time frames,” he said. “They demonstrated the capacity to do that the best.”

Here’s how TLDR works: It connects with your inbox to break down incoming and outgoing emails. For messages you receive that have more than 50 words, TLDR’s algorithm finds the details you actually need and archives the rest. For the emails you send, TLDR runs a form of “spell-check” to alert you of ways you can write more concisely.

“We want to extract the postcard from the envelope,” said TLDR member Thibaut Labarre.  

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There’s also TLDR feature that allows you to send messages back to people, notifying them that you’ve used TLDR to shorten their email in hopes that they’ll clean up their prose in the future.

As is with all the teams at Startup Weekend, it was very, very impressive to see what the TLDR came up with in just 54 hours. On top of building a website and a demo, they also produced a video and set up a Kickstarter.

TLDR runs a form of “spell-check” to alert you of ways you can write more concisely.

Devore thought TLDR did a good job of hitting a major enterprise pain point with the amount of time people spend on Email everyday. And while some teams did one or two things really well — acing their demo or demonstrating good customer validation, for example —TLDR seemed to cover all the bases with their idea, business model and presentation.

That, Devore said, shows how cool Startup Weekend can be.

“That’s no one individual’s doing. It’s good leadership, good teamwork and the talent to create something,” he said of TLDR’s work. “That’s the magic of Startup Weekend — it’s not one thing, but rather the crystallization of effectiveness across the vectors to build a business.”

The next Startup Weekend event in Seattle will be held June 7-9 at the Redfin headquarters. Here’s a rundown of the other teams:

Second place: Check on You — An app that helps families make sure their relatives are healthy and doing OK.

Third place: CrowdSeek —  A tool that uses cascading incentives to help people find things.

Honorable mentions: Seattle Brewed — A website to showcase talent and connect people in the Seattle startup community.

Open Bar — An app that helps bars increase revenue on slow days.

People’s Choice Award: I’m Hungry — An app that helps people eat together.

Other teams:

Park Here — An app to help you find parking — the Yelp of parking.

Trax — A place for musicians to share and edit tracks while collaborating and connecting. 

Look Hear — An app to help tour guides make their tours more interactive.

Introgram — Helps make introductions across social networks more simple. — An app to help lenders determine credit-worthiness based on social data.

GarageSim — Helping you sell stuff in your garage.

Previously on GeekWire: Facebook reverses stance after blocking Microsoft and WhitePages from sponsoring Startup Weekend

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  • Lily Burtis

    The link in your article is broken!

    • Taylor Soper

      Hi Lily. Thanks for letting us know. We just fixed it. Should be good now.

  • Amyr Haq

    Taylor, thanks for coming yesterday and especially for covering this given the short notice.

  • Angry Troll makes email shorter. And anything else. Also has “create” that shows you how to write more concisely.

    Knock off the name, the tech, and make a KickStarter. That’s ballsy. Well they can use the seed money for lawyers.

    • Peter H

      So no one else is allowed to enter this space?

  • gseattle

    Next Startup Weekend in Safeco Field, public welcome, free parking (sponsored), entry tickets $2, bring the family, vote your favorite startup team ideas each hour, sneak peeks into team doings via the free wireless, with Facebook, WhitePages and Microsoft sponsoring the event to propel us all into a bright future. Really? Mmm, no. Actually, here for example, sequestered away behind locked doors at corporate offices, no welcome mat, public not welcome, no way to get any sense of what’s going on, no updates, no buzz. If you wanted to take your kids to be inspired for a slight glimpse and view of how the future happens, created by awesome rock stars, f’getabout it.

  • daveschappell

    Taylor — are any of the other sites launched publicly? You only have links to TLDR and SeattleBrewed. I’d like to check the others out, even if they have limited functionality due to weekend time availability.

  • Guest

    We wanted flying cars and got an email truncator!

  • Heon Jun Park

    I guess being in high school and going to these things are no longer cool

    damn 2 years and spaces changes fast…. but I guess that is why I love it so much :P

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