This past weekend was the first Startup Weekend in Canada, held right here in Edmonton! About 30 local developers, designers, and idea people got together at Enterprise Square for the event, organized by Startup Edmonton. As I mentioned last week, Startup Weekend’s mission is to teach entrepreneurship in a fun, interactive way. It’s also a great way to see first-hand the talent that exists in the local tech community.
The weekend got started on Friday evening with the pitches. Anyone with an idea for an application or product was invited to write it down on a flip chart. After all the ideas were collected, each one was given 60 seconds to make an elevator pitch, trying to attract people to the team. When that was done, everyone spread out and slowly but surely teams formed. In the end, six teams came together for the weekend.
The teams starting to form on Friday evening
For all of Saturday and most of Sunday the teams were hard at work on their ideas. There is no required deliverable at the end of Startup Weekend, but each team was working as quickly as possible to get as much done as they could in time for a demo. Startup Weekend forces teams to focus on bringing an idea to life quickly, which is an important skill to have. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but being able to execute on them is much more difficult. Starting with just the seed of an idea and less than two days later having something workable to show to others is incredibly valuable. Another great thing about Startup Weekend is that it provides an opportunity for individuals to work together, even if they had never met before. It’s amazing what can happen when two or more creative people get talking.
As the teams put the final touches on their prototypes on Sunday evening, members of the local tech community started to arrive. The final part of Startup Weekend was the demo, giving teams a chance to show off what they had worked on for the last two days.
Here’s what was built at Startup Weekend Edmonton:
- HomeCricket, an iPhone application that utilizes Open Data from the City of Edmonton to help you find a house. It shows you assessment information, as well as the nearest police stations, schools, parks, and more.
- Life Radar, a to-do application for the iPad that uses a points system to motivate you to get things done. Neat app, especially when you consider that no one on the team had ever built an iPad app before!
- RightPath, a web-based Q & A style app that connects high school students with mentors from the business world. Students ask questions about careers, mentors answer.
- PaxImperium, a social real-time strategy game for Facebook. With no developers on the team, they focused on a detailed product pitch instead, complete with financial projections.
- GameGigs, a web-based app that connects game developers, designers, and players. It uses the Twitter API for authentication, which made for an interesting (and challenging) demo!
- Green Planet, a Facebook-based app (with an iPhone app too) that builds awareness around environmental sustainability. As you complete real-life missions (like replacing light bulbs in your house with energy efficient ones) your virtual planet benefits.
I’m really amazed at what was created in such a short amount of time! The apps were all polished and well-thought out, and while there were some bugs in the demos as expected, every team completed enough to clearly convey their idea. Many of the ideas changed quite a bit from the original pitch on Friday, and it would be interesting to see how they’d change even more if the teams continued working on them. With the Apps4Edmonton competition now underway, I suspect some of the teams may do just that.
There are loose plans for another Startup Weekend in Edmonton, tentatively scheduled for the fall. Stay tuned to Startup Edmonton (and on Twitter) for updates. You can see the rest of my photos from Startup Weekend here.
Congratulations to the Startup Edmonton team and to all the participants for a very fun and successful weekend!