22 startups were launched from scratch this weekend during Startup Weekend Toronto. It was a weekend full of inspiration, excitement, stress, and—of course—startup swag.
175 participants, consisting of local developers, marketers, designers, and enthusiasts, came together to build startups. Some people arrived with preconceived ideas and a team of fellow colleagues, while others wanted to be spontaneous and brainstorm ideas with likeminded strangers. 65 participants made their pitches and the ball got rolling.
Startup founders met fellow cofounders. People walked around looking to create dream teams, wanting to connect with the people and idea of their choice. But that Friday night wasn’t easy for everyone—teams weren’t fully formed, ideas were a dime a dozen, agreements couldn’t be made, and some people simply didn’t get along.
“The hardest part of a startup is just getting the idea off the ground. And that’s why we have Startup Weekend, to encourage people to get out there and execute," explains Chris Eben, organizer of Startup Weekend Toronto. “When you actually have an idea and a team rearing to go, you have to get yourself to start and only then you realize that it takes a number of attempts to actually make something work."
It was definitely more than one attempt for some of the teams. Whether it was changing designs altogether, pivoting twice or thrice, or coming up with two iterations instead of one, participants at Startup Weekend made it clear that sleep wasn’t an option. As Fahd Javed, a university student and a participant with Startup team “MenuSnyper” explained, “I couldn’t sleep even if I wanted to because my mind was racing. I think I just rested for three or four hours both nights.”
The efforts of 22 startups culminated with five minute presentations. Every startup introduced some new concept of innovation to appreciate. From apps that help save time waiting at doctor’s offices to alarm clocks that get your friends to call you, the pride for Canadian innovation was obvious.
Winners from last year’s Startup Weekend came to provide feedback on their journey followed by a panel discussion with Toronto’s Startup industry leaders. The winners of this year’s Startup Weekend Toronto are:
• GroupNotes in first place (an online platform to share and annotate pages of the web in collaborative research projects).
• FlyShortcut in second place (an online program that calculates the cheapest route to a destination by using your final destination actually as a stopover).
• Milk in third place (an online app that allows a user to subscribe to necessities with free shipping).
The judges and the organizers agreed that this year was a great year for Startup Weekend in Toronto. “There are quite a few finalists that have a high potential to sustain themselves as high impact Startup companies in the future," noted Sunil Sharma, panelist and Chief Connector at Extreme Startups. “However, the teams really need to contemplate and assess what they want to do now.”
Mr. Sharma encourages the participants that as they get back into a routine of work or school over the next few days, that they should study their teams and each member’s commitment. “They need to be very aware of their teams diversity and analyze their team structure. Now is the time to move quickly and decide who is going to opt in or opt out, and who is seriously committed in moving forward."
In my opinion, whether these Startups continue and go on to become future empires or decide to close shop, they’re all a success. They’ve gotten a taste of the effort that goes from launching an idea to execution and have experienced that invigorating combination of excitement and anxiety.
The experts all say that startup success is a combination of luck and hard work. I don’t know about anyone else this weekend, but I definitely saw hard work take 95% of the cake.
And what about the other 5%? Well, that was all startup swag, of course.