Later this month startup Weekend Toronto will descend on Ryerson's downtown campus. Techvibes is excited to be a media sponsor of this important event which will connect veterans and rookies in the startup community.
Chris Eben is the lead organizer of the Toronto event. He recently took some time out of his busy schedule to speak with us.
Startup Weekend in Toronto is happening from Sept 24-26 at Ryerson. Why should people attend?
Startup Weekend offers a great chance to do something different on the weekend. Get out and meet new and interesting people, hear and learn from a variety of speakers and mentors representing the best of the Toronto startup scene and, most of all, build something real. No other event provides this kind of platform for really doing something - giving everyone a forum for pitching their ideas, putting teams together and actually creating a startup over an intense 54hrs.
These events are taking place in cities all over the world and now it's Toronto's turn to get in on it. While it might seem implausible to really build something in one weekend, Startup Weekends everywhere are showing us that it happens all the time and many new startups have such great traction coming out of the weekend, they're still going months later and are often getting funded.
Who should attend this event?
Startup Weekends are appealing to a wide variety of people. Existing entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, folks who like to build things in their spare time, folks who like to build things all the time... and the list goes on. Essentially, if you have an idea that you want to get off the ground, come out and pitch it. If it doesn't get picked for the weekend of work, join in on another cool idea and work on that. If you don't have an idea but want to work on something interesting, come out and listen to the other pitches and join a team. If you're worried you don't have the right skill set, you're probably worrying for nothing.
To get a startup off the ground in a weekend you need people with just about every background as long as you're enthusiastic, ready to work and want to join in on the action.
Is Startup Weekend Toronto only for people who are looking to start a tech-focused business?
This question gets asked a lot. While there are no specific rules about what type of business you can start at SW, they do tend to be tech-focused and largely web or mobile apps of some sort. This is simply because these technologies lend themselves to fast, iterative development that can produce something real in 54hrs. Still, if you have a great idea in some other space, by all means, bring it and see what people think. The spirit of the event is the same, regardless of the type of business or idea you want to build.
For those not interested in starting a business at this time, is there still a place for them at this weekend to learn?
Absolutely. Part of the fun is coming out and joining in, regardless of your individual goals and motivations. Maybe you just want to see what other people are doing, help someone else with their idea, or just gain new insights and skills that you can take back to whatever you do right now. Still, there's a good chance that you'll catch the bug and feel that you do want to be part of something now, or very soon.
Why are you involved?
It was sort of a fluke. I was attending a conference in San Francisco and came across Startup Weekend Silicon Valley and thought, "why aren't we doing this in Toronto?" - so I tweeted about it. The next thing I knew, I was meeting the team from Startup Weekend headquarters at the same conference and they asked me to help them get things going in Canada. I've worked in technology and for startups throughout my career and I'm a big supporter of the technology and startup community in Toronto so thought why not. Running an event like this is new to me and thankfully I've met some great people to help along the way. I've been working with Karthik Soravanahalli, Ahmed Badruddin and Mic Berman as well as a host of others in the local community who have made it much easier and very rewarding along the way.
What is your role?
Rightly or wrongly, I ended up as lead organizer for Startup Weekend Toronto. Other than all the planning and logistics required to get this thing going (thanks again to my co-organizers!), my role is to make sure that this event provides everyone who attends an opportunity to have an unforgettable experience. There are no promises with regards to the outcomes for each participant but we are doing our best to ensure that everyone walks away on Sunday night feeling they learned a lot, met and connected with great people, and hopefully started something they're excited about that goes a lot further than one weekend.
Where can people learn more and even buy tickets?
Go to http://toronto.startupweekend.org and you'll find all the information you need about the event and registration, including links to the global Startup Weekend site where you can learn about past and future events all over the world. If you don't find what you need here, please get in touch with me directly either by email chriseben [at] startupweekend [dot] org or via twitter at @ceben or @startupwkndTO.