By Dennis Powers
Connector and Project Manager. Passionate about sales, marketing, media production and customer service. Dennis loves connecting companies with creative professionals and managing the work they do together.
*This post was originally published on Digital Okanagan’s Blog
I was happy to be the Roving News Reporter (aka ‘Les Nessman’ for anyone old enough to remember) for Startup Weekend Okanagan this year. This was the 2nd year for Startup Weekend Okanagan and it continues to grow and get better. Follow along as I witnessed talented entrepreneurs, business professionals, marketers, designers and developers team-up and work together to build businesses in a weekend!
Friday March 8, 2013
The event took place at the Kelowna Innovation Centre in rooms provided by Accelerate Okanagan. To kick the event off, we all gathered in a room where we were introduced to Jesse Heaslip, our Startup Weekend Okanagan facilitator from Vancouver. Jesse led us through games to get the almost 100 participants acquainted and then organized the initial pitches.
The excitement and the experience of watching the 40 or more pitches and the pitchers trying to get votes for their business ideas were a couple of the highlights. 10 business ideas were selected by votes from the participants. Those 10 team leaders then began forming teams around the business, marketing, design and programming talent they needed in order present a functional demo and business concept for the judges in approximately 54 hours time. Some teams ended up merging, so 7 teams were left and worked late into the night.
Saturday March 9, 2013
Saturday started where Friday left off. Teams and participants were at the Accelerate Okanagan building early, anxiously wanting to move their products forward. There were breaks for yoga, a parking lot BBQ and dinner, and even though the weather outside was typical Okanagan amazingness, every other moment was spent inside AO developing business models, validating business assumptions, developing go-to market strategies and designing and developing products. Optimism was high among all the teams as each team felt that they had the winning product.
Participants showed up at AO early Sunday morning. It was time to make final preparations and practice pitch presentations for Judgement Night. Excitement was high and the pressure was on as mentors met with teams throughout the day and offered feedback on pitches.
Sunday March 10, 2013
Judgement Night was held at the Kelowna Art Gallery. It was a packed house with team members, judges and community members all in attendance. You might think it was a tense situation, but it was fun! Teams made their pitches and judges questioned revenue models and projections, competitive analysis and more. All the teams were awesome, but Arkitektor was crowned this year’s winner with Coo Coo and SkootShare as runners-up. Fresh Okanagan, Chef Shuffle, Innr Circl and ShiftLine were the other teams that presented and presented well. With the relationships formed under pressure and passion for producing quality products and pitches, even though the participants were obviously exhausted, no one wanted the event to end and many celebrated with new friends and potential business partners late into the night!
In my interviews with team leads and conversations with team members, I heard the same key words and phrases over and over like: “awesome team” or “amazing team members”, “so much fun”, “collaboration”, “community” and “amazing experience”.
A special “thank you!” goes out to the participants, mentors, judges, sponsors, volunteers and organizers involved in this year’s Startup weekend Okanagan! I can’t wait until next year’s event! Contact Digital Okanagan if you want to get involved!