Startup Weekend Vancouver showcases fast pace of innovation

Startup Weekend Vancouver

Vancouver’s tech entrepreneurial spirit reached a fever pitch among early 100 competitors on 17 teams at Startup Weekend Vancouver from November 18 to 20. Taking place a the Launch Academy, it was the eighth event of its kind, with teams aiming to validate their ideas while gaining insight from experienced entrepreneurs and mentors.

Entrepreneurs need to be prepared to answer questions on the fly.

“Vancouver is the rising global capital for tech innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Hussein Hallak, general manager of Launch Academy, the signature sponsor for the event. “Bringing together entrepreneurs, developers, designers to build viable startups from scratch in 54 hours, is a testament of the great talent pool we have in our community.”

Harmony — which offers an online platform for musicians and composers to transcribe music played into sheet music using machine learning technology — took first place. GiftFairy and WalkSafe took home the second and third place prizes respectively. The winners took home over $20,000 in total prizes, largely consisting of scholarships to various entrepreneurial accelerator and incubator programs.

Competitors ultimately pitched their refined startup ideas to a panel including investors and entrepreneurs, including Launch Academy CEO Ray Walia, The Next Big Thing managing director Joanna Buczkowska-McCumber, New Avenue Capital managing director Manny Padda, and Exvera Communications founder Brittany Whitmore.

For many participants, the satisfaction from the event came from the journey of taking their idea forward. For instance, the team for WalkSafe explained that just by going through the process of market validation, you quickly find out how important it is to really get in touch with the decision maker among your customers. Their app lets female users geo-locate other women within 150 metres of wherever they are, to help them get to their destinations more safely, akin to a campus safe-walk program.

Entrepreneurs need to be prepared to answer questions on the fly and be flexible if customers ask questions for which an early-stage startup has no firm answer, even on core elements like pricing, they explained.

Startup Weekend Vancouver is part of a global community of entrepreneurs in the tech sector, which put on 1800 events in 120 countries around the world in 2015.

Jonathon Narvey

Jonathon Narvey

Jonathon Narvey is a content marketing strategist and BetaKit Senior Editor. Living and working in the heart of downtown Vancouver, he's watched this city's tech hub grow and start to compete on a world-class level. He has learned most of what he knows about tech startups and entrepreneurial spirit by interviewing some of the most innovative thought leaders here and abroad. He's always up for learning something new about the startups, leaders and technologies that are changing our world.