Sunday evening marked the wrap of the latest Startup Weekend Chicago. For those reading who are not familiar with the brand, Startup Weekend is a ” global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities.” Essentially, startup enthusiasts come together and present new ideas, form teams, build actual products, and then present them to an audience—along with a panel of official judges. This is no small operation: in 2011 alone, Startup Weekend hosted 400 events in 100 countries around the world. This is quickly becoming a massive movement.

Here’s a great video about Startup Weekend:

Over 100 starters joined in the most recent Startup Weekend Chicago to form 18 teams, all of which built and presented a startup in 54 hours. Talk about lean, mean startup teams!

I’ve been to a few Startup Weekend events in Chicago before to check out the idea pitches, which happen within the first two hours of the event. I’ve even walked into a Startup Weekend event late in the evening on Saturday night, as all of the teams are working ridiculously hard around the clock to literally create an entire startup with a brand new group of people. We’re talking the level and quantity of work that normally takes a startup team months, at best, to put together.

But, yesterday was the first time I saw the actual final presentations. And I’ve got to say, I was blown away. Most of the 18 teams created real websites, applications, Twitter pages (with followers!), and/or products. They did product research, development, UX, and visual design. They created financial projections. Some even went out and closed sales. Unreal.

While “hustle” was an overused word in the PowerPoint decks, I can see why: all of the teams did just that over the last 54 hours. Here’s what the intense weekend schedule looked like:

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If nothing else, Startup Weekend is a shining example of what can happen when startup founders and teams toss aside their assumptions about what’s possible and just focus relentlessly on building something amazing. We can all create initial products faster than we ever thought possible. And, given the quality of work coming out of Startup Weekend—coupled with the ever-popular Lean Startup methodology—perhaps we should.

But of course, Startup Weekend is something else. Aside from the exercise in startup minimalism and efficiency, actual startups come out of this intense weekend. In Chicago alone, the list includes (but is not limited to): CareContent, WeDeliver, BikeRecov, EventPix, and EditHuddle.

It’s also a movement that, given it’s size, scope, and popularity, is now fundamentally changing how thousands of people think through the art and mechanics of successfully starting a company—and fast. After carefully observing the Startup Weekend Chicago experience, I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of ideas and crazy work ethic of everyone partaking in this intense, sleepless 54-hour event.

Here’s a full list of the 18 startups that formed over the past weekend at 1871 in Chicago:

– Diabetes Winners! (1st place)
– Rushour (2nd place)
– The Ruly Mob (3rd place)
– Healthify My Team
– Instant Insights
– StoryLory
– QCumber
– Calendher
– Rap Chat
– EarHustle
– OpusSpace
– 4play
– Estia
– Plato’s Lab
– Arenapalooza
– Lends
– LoopLine
Judges evaluated all team presentations based on the following criteria:

JudgingCriteria (1) 2

As you can imagine, preparing to address and be judged on all of these factors for a brand new product in a mere 54 hours is highly impressive. I was blown away by the quality of startup ideas, apps, and presentations. After having seen three Startup Weekend events in Chicago now, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that all entrepreneurs should go through a weekend like this one several times before and while they start new companies.

This past weekend would not have been possible without the powerhouse Startup Weekend Chicago team behind the scenes, making everything work smoothly so the event would go off without a hitch. They made sure the 100-plus participants had plenty of snacks, caffeine, cereal, and pasta (by the way, no ramen in sight). They stayed up with the teams late in the evening, and curated a 3-hour final presentation extravaganza. The event simply would not have been possible without the brains, hearts, and sheer energy of the Chicago team: Adam Haun, Chris Campbell, Chris McKeever, Kit Mueller, Becky Rother, Kirk Lashley, and Andy Abbott.

So what are you waiting for? Time to get ready for the next Startup Weekend.