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Friday, August 24, 2012

Vancouver Startup Weekend

Vancouver Startup Weekend

August 23, 2012 Posted by Paul Davidescu @pauldavidescu

There are a lot of things one can do in 54 hours. For some people that’s time spent on their average workweek, a camping trip, a road trip, and in some Hollywood star’s case, a random weekend wedding in Vancouver. Last weekend, for some entrepreneurs, 54 hours was the amount of time they had to make a team, build a company, and present it to a room of judges, company’s, media outlets, and potential investors. Buckle up, Vancouver Startup Weekend just hit BC – here’s the inside scoop.

I was extremely impressed with the event and was flabbergasted when I compared Friday’s opening night to Sunday’s final presentations – the rapid evolution of teams and ideas was quite impressive. What didn’t change was the incredible energy and adrenaline omitted from the packed auditorium from start to finish.

Opening night was exciting and nothing short of a gong show as F-bombs became the new form of communication and for approximately two hours, 63 people pitched their startup ideas. When the dust settled, 17 ideas were chosen for the weekend and 150 people scrambled to join a team with the right balance or skills and personalities.
Both Saturday and Sunday consisted of teams getting down to business and really forming, developing, and even destroying some ideas in order to best position products and ensure that on Sunday evening, they had something solid to showcase to the judges. Teams had access to coaches all weekend long as local CEO’s and entrepreneurs volunteered their time to help the cause. Amongst the coaches, there was large representation from the Hootsuite team alongside other local Vancouver tech companies. Our friends over at also helped out by keeping our entrepreneurs well fed throughout the entire weekend.

Sunday evening was quite the spectacle as teams stuck their necks out and got ready for a showdown with the carefully selected judging panel.

The startup ideas ranged all across the map with notable ones focusing on app’s for optimal networking tactics, booking last minute tickets or entire vacations, to renting boats and recreational equipment. All 17 teams had four-minute presentations to impress the judges and many did just that by getting creative via delivering cupcakes to the crowd, making the judges pull out their phones, and even collecting change off street strangers to fund their idea. I was very impressed with the presentations and noticed that most teams already had company t-shirts, making it look like they had been working for various weeks!

Although everyone was truly a winner, the judges awarded these top three teams to end off the night:

1st place: Route Captain – Optimizes delivery routes for small to medium delivery couriers
2nd place: 7pm Tickets – purchase available last minute re-sale tickets for events without having to meet the seller in person.

3rd place: Rent2Play – an easy way to book recreational equipment online.

Overall, it was a fantastic event with some really bright and energetic people. If you are looking to ditch the office job and venture into the entrepreneurial world, or if you just want to meet some like-minded people, it doesn’t get much better than Startup Weekend. For those looking for the next big entrepreneurial event, today is the Grow 2012 conference – good luck getting tickets.

Judging Panel
Jason Bailey: There is only one Jason Bailey and I mean that in a variety of ways. Throughout his 15 years of having the “entrepreneurial disease” he has built a variety of companies from virtually nothing to many millions. He also invests and mentors more companies than you can count on both hands and he’s currently the CEO of Eastside Games. Oh and did I mention he’s freaking hilarious – pure wit and sarcasm, no one got the crowd going like him on Sunday.

Boris Wertz: I could write an entire article about Boris, but in the interest of your time, I’ll keep it brief. Boris is one of the top tech early-stage investors in North-America and the founding partner of version one ventures. He also is one of the founders of Growlab – an amazing organization we have been featuring a lot this year.

Kimberly Kaplan: Best known for her impressive work with the worlds largest online dating website, Plenty of Fish, Kim is an active member in the entrepreneurial community and is constantly laying down the law as a judge at various startup presentations. In early 2011, Kimberly launched Offeron which has gone through a few iterations and is currently focused on investing in startups.

Arnold Leung: Arnold is another UBC Sauder Alumni and founded Appnovation Technologies when he was just 22 years old. In just a few years he led Appnovation to $7 million in revenue and now employs 45 people. He was described in introductions as extremely analytical and the kind of person who thinks of and solves every possible business problem before it crosses most other peoples minds.

Kenshi Arasaki: Kenshi is CEO of Vancouver Based Social Gaming Startup – A Thinking Ape, a fun place where engineers love to work. Before they grew out of it, the company used to occupy The Network Hub, which is a shared office space that the Vancity Buzz team works out of. Kenshi used to be a software engineer with Amazon before joining the squad.

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