Startup Weekend Calgary challenges anybody with a creative idea
The competition is held in hundreds of cities internationally and is designed to bring innovators together. In groups they evolve their media-focused ideas into viable structures and business proposals to be pitted against other groups in front of a panel.
There's also the chance to win top prize: $8,500 worth of services provided by Inceptive Solutions, Inc. meant to propel the business idea forward.
Justin Nowak, event facilitator, says, "It's fun, whether or not you win, you meet a lot of people, get to build a business and forge relationships as if you were working with these people for a month."
Devesh Dwivedi, an organizer for the tech-oriented event, says, "The overall weekend is supposed to give [participants] the complete experience of starting a company."
Nowak says, "You can find people that you can work on your business with, and it gives you that weekend to kind of create that relationship."
Luis Berumen was a competitor last year and loved the event so much that he became an organizer.
"First place doesn't really matter, seeing the idea grow is the real badge," he says.
The goal, which is to develop an idea into reality, has historically led to software development but anything goes as long as it has a business plan.
"Judges are looking for ingenuity, innovation, marketability, and how the product will make money," says Berumen.
"First place doesn't really matter, seeing the idea grow is the real badge."
— Luis Berumen, organizer with Startup Weekend Calgary
The organizers also agree that, when considering the nature of business, the atmosphere isn't as cutthroat as one would expect.
"The will to win is there with the entrepreneurship, but you're not going to throw somebody else over," Nowak says. "We have a lot of people in our group that would lend their expertise to help the other teams build their software."
With the $100 entry fee, organizers will provide food, coffee, Internet and workstations with computers. They will also make available a group of 12 professional mentors to be used as an assisted resource for business development.
Berumen says that, whether it's for design, layout, logo or user interface, the mentors will sit down with a client and figure out how they want to create a concept for their company.
In regards to last year's competition, Berumen says, "People were really integrated and excited about what other groups were doing. Some people, like me, were just jumping from one side to the other and trying to offer the best [advice]."
The event is also meant to stimulate the local economy. Last year's first-prize winner was Mido Deals, an online management system that filters coupons based on specific interest, which is still running online.
Dwivedi says, "Entrepreneurship is a good solution to the youth unemployment. We need something like this, and I absolutely love being behind it."
Startup Weekend Calgary will be hosted at AcceleratorYYC, 200, 1212 9 Ave. S.E. and the 54-hour event will start at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, with the business proposals being judged Sunday evening. Students pay $50 with ID.
For more information visit Startup Weekend Calgary's website.
- By KYLE NAPIER