Startup Weekend Vancouver Brings Together Over 200 Startup Enthusiasts and Announces This Year’s Winning Team

Nearly 200 attendees gathered at Unbounce last night to witness the startup teams competing in Startup Weekend Vancouver’s 7th annual competition. This year’s Startup Weekend Vancouver involved 125 participants, with 52 pitches presented at Startup Weekend Vancouver’s kick-off night on Friday — which resulted in 15 teams formed.

Over a span of 54 hours, teams took to the streets of downtown Vancouver to validate their startup ideas, develop their minimal viable product and prototype, while gaining valuable insight and feedback from a team of industry professionals as their Startup Weekend coaches.

With the steady growth of startups emerging within Vancouver’s technology sector, events such as Startup Weekend Vancouver have provided participants with an unfair advantage in receiving an outpour of support from the Vancouver startup community.

“The tech scene in Vancouver is at a tipping point with the success of companies such as Hootsuite, and Slack — both of which once started in Vancouver as startups themselves,” said Sean Elbe, the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC)’s Technology Sector Development Manager. “With the steady growth of startups emerging within Vancouver, we expect up to 15,000 jobs opening up within just the tech sector alone. We were excited to help foster this startup momentum through our support of Startup Weekend.”

As the final presentations on Sunday night fast approached, teams prepared to pitch to their panel of seasoned entrepreneurs and top-tier VCs consisting of: Ryan Holmes (CEO, Hootsuite), Wade Foster (CEO, Zapier – which emerged from Startup Weekend Columbia), Amy Rae (Principal, Vanedge Capital), and Igor Smirnoff (Chief Commercial Officer, PressReader).

After an intense, 3-hour long round of pitches, three well-deserved startups made it to the top 3: Draft Madness (3rd Place), HouseHive (2nd Place), and Culitech, claiming the winning title of this year’s Startup Weekend Vancouver competition and category winners of having the “Most Disruptive Idea”, presented by PressReader. Additionally, Automated Vertical Agriculture (AVA) took home the title of having the “Best Impact”, presented by Spring Activator.

Thebrain-child of two young entrepreneurs, Angela Wang and Madeleine Liu (both whom are still in secondary school as eleventh graders), Culitech offers detachable cutlery that can detect allergens, toxins, and nutritional content (calories, sugars, proteins, etc.).

HouseHive, claiming 2nd Place, offers an online platform which connects household service providers to city residents.

Draft Madness, at 3rd Place, offers a revolutionary March Madness drafting platform to enable players to win more money through engaging in fantasy sports.

Lastly, AVA was awarded as having the “Best Impact” by Spring Activator. AVA provides a simple, beautiful solution to home gardening using the AVA device, a microwave-sized, smart urban gardening box for the urban cultivator.

With the support of local and global sponsors such as Google, dotCo, Vitamin Water, Branch Metrics, Zenefits, Unbounce, Jukebox, QuickMobile, PressReader, the finalists took home over $16,000 in prizes to help further their startup success.

Other local sponsors for this year’s Startup Weekend Vancouver competition include:

  • BC Innovation Council (BCIC)
  • Smythe CPA
  • Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC)
  • Small Business BC
  • Lighthouse Labs
  • MacPherson Leslie & Tyerman LLP
  • iQMetrix
  • Launch Academy
  • Todoist
  • Spring Activator
  • Mailchimp
  • Mobify

About Startup Weekend Vancouver
Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 1800 past events in 120 countries around the world in 2014.

For more information on Startup Weekend Vancouver, please visit:


#SWVan Update — Here are this year’s awesome startup ideas

Our 7th Startup Weekend Vancouver event kicked into high gear at Unbounce Friday night with over 150 attendees eagerly awaiting to pitch their ideas. When the dust finally settled, a total of 52 concepts were pitched resulting in 11 ideas voted in, and 15 teams finally formed.

Early Saturday morning, the teams got right to work bringing their startup ideas to life. Some took to the streets of Downtown Vancouver for customer validation, and others hustled to develop their prototypes (with coffee in hand, of course).

We’ll be opening our doors to almost 200 guests for our sold-out event on Sunday night, and we’re excited to see our teams present their innovative ideas. Here are the exciting ideas our #SWVan teams have been working on so far (*updated team names):

1. Magic Motion 

Magic Motion is an affordable virtual reality (VR) system that enables PC-gamers to enjoy VR games using Google Cardboard. As a direct competitor to Oculus Rift, Magic Motion’s advantage is making VR gaming affordable for the average PC gamer.


2. Draft Madness

Draft Madness is a new platform for fantasy drafting of March Madness (one of the largest sporting events in the United States featuring men’s college basketball). Draft Madness allows you to draft your favourite team through a live, interactive auction, double your winnings when your team wins, and buy/sell teams amongst your friends throughout the tournament.



3. Closure

Imagine suddenly losing a loved one, and now having the daunting task of settling all their outstanding liabilities (phone bills, loans, credit card payments, etc.), finding a funeral home, estate lawyer, and countless other tasks while still grieving for their loss. Closure is an automated platform that will close all outstanding tasks required to manage the death of a loved on — saving you time, and stress while allowing you to grieve.

4. ActivePal

ActivePal is an online community that connects you to active pals nearby who love the outdoors. Key pain points outdoorsy people face are: finding other active people nearby to enjoy the outdoors with, connecting with smaller groups of people (avoiding large groups of hikers), and finding an active community for outdoor activities (that’s not a dating site!). This platform will be filtered based on location, availability, interests, and various activities you’d like to do.


5. ActiveShadow

ActiveShadow is an online platform that helps people improve their presentation skills through a live, online audience. Think SoundCloud meets Toastmasters. Users will connect on the platform with the intention of wanting to improve their presentation skills, or to provide feedback on the presentations that others’ make. The platform will enable presenters to record their presentations, and engage in Q&A with their audience.

6. Culitech

Culitech aims to produce smart, attachable cutlery that will detect toxins, allergens, and nutrient content in your food. This smart utensil will enable both consumers and households to take precautions of any dietary sensitivities, or toxins (i.e. mould, bacteria, etc.) that otherwise may harm cause harm to your body.

7. is a web and app-based platform that optimizes rental property revenue, helping landlords get more money through an auctioning system. This rental property revenue optimizer allows you to get the best market price for your rental property by crowdsourcing bids from qualified, trustworthy renters.


8. HouseHive

HouseHive enables your local neighbourhood to leverage purchasing power by bundling common household services. This online platform helps organize you and your neighbours to find common services you all require, package up the service requests, and connect you with the best local service providers in your community. With HouseHive, you can find out who’s already working in your building (home cleaners, dog walkers, cooks, carpet cleaners, etc.) and find the best deal on your shared services.



9. Rideaway*

SurfLife is an online community that connects extreme sports professionals with new learners to provide their expertise, share lessons and sports equipment. Through SurfLife, you can find suggestions for local spots to best enjoy the sport, and learn from seasoned professionals at a fraction of the price. SurfLife’s extreme sport-listing will include (but not limited to) surfing, ski/snowboarding, and mountain biking.

10. Wow Her

Wow Her is the Expedia for date nights — a web and app-based platform that will enable users to find and search for date night ideas. Filtered based on budget, location, and interest, Wow Her will personalize your next date night suggestions.

11. AVA

AVA, or Automated Vertical Agriculture creates beautiful, modern, indoor farming units for the urban cultivator. Paired with a smart tech plant food gel dispenser, users can grow and monitor their organic produce using AVA’s mobile app. AVA aims to encourage more urban cultivators to adopt a healthier, self-sustainable lifestyle.


12. Quantext*

Carbon Context is a B2B platform that simplifies environmental data for companies to make better choices in their project initiatives. Corporate Social Responsibility representatives (CSRs) are often tasked to evaluate possible environmental impacts made on any company-initiatives, however the data collected is scattered and difficult to understand. Carbon Context provides a clear, visual representation to enable businesses to make better design decisions to prevent harmful environmental impacts that damage may damage the earth.

13. Blue Circle Project

Blue Circle Project is a food redistributor service that takes any leftover food from grocery stores and restaurants and re-distributes them to local animal farms, charities, etc. Billions of dollars worth of food gets wasted every year, and produces substantial amounts of CO2 emissions into the environment. Blue Circle aims to reduce the amount of food waste to help foster a low-carbon economy.

14. Local Log

Local Log is a discovery engine for local shopping, helping shoppers discover local stores and support local businesses. Additionally, local business owners can expect an easier transition to developing an online presence for their store through Local Log.

15. Lift

Lift is a match-making service for fitness and nutrition coaches to connect with new and goal-orientated clients. Moreover, Lift will match clients with their ideal coaches who can best accommodate for their fitness and nutritional goals. These highly-trained coaches will be vetted based on their experience, training/background and professional network to offer a variety of options for clients to choose from.

Startup Weekend Vancouver is Here — Thank You to Our Amazing Sponsors!

The moment we’ve all been waiting for Startup Weekend is finally here, and we are thrilled to present the 7th Annual Startup Weekend Vancouver event tonight at Unbounce!

Startup Weekend Vancouver is a volunteer-run event, and we couldn’t have done it with the support of all our amazing sponsors:


Unbounce has always been an amazing supporter of Startup Weekend Vancouver, and as our Signature Venue Sponsor for this year’s Startup Weekend, we are so excited to host our competition at their new headquarters in Downtown Vancouver. Unbounce will also be providing a 1-year account for the winning team for SWVan.


Originally founded in San Francisco, CA, it’s hard to believe that Zenefits was once a startup only two years ago, and has been our biggest contributor to helping us put on an amazing event. Zenefits Financials is one of the fastest-growing SaaS Businesses ever, and we’re thrilled to have them as our Platinum Sponsor and hosts of our Official After Party for SWVan!


While serving customers in over 100 countries, most people don’t think of Jukebox Print as a startup, but in fact, Jukebox was once the very definition of a startup— created and managed by one person. Huge thanks for Jukebox Print providing us with all the beautiful print work for SWVan! Find out more about their story in our latest guest blog from Jukebox’s Founder & CEO, Loredo Rucchin.


Headquartered in Vancouver, BC, QuickMobile was named Deloitte’s #1 Fastest Growing Technology Company in Canada in 2013, and has now expanded globally with offices in London, UK, and Singapore. This year, we are thrilled to have QuickMobile provide our attendees with our Startup Weekend event app —complete with a list of our event schedule, profiles of our judges, coaches, sponsors and more!


PressReader is the global leader in multi-channel, cross-platform content distribution and monetization, and the chosen partner of more than 4,000 publishers from 100 countries. We’re grateful for PressReader’s support in SWVan this year as one of our Gold Sponsors, and sponsor for one of our extra prize categories for “Most Disruptive” idea.

In addition to our featured sponsors, we’re so thankful for the support of our Bronze and Silver Sponsors:

To our awesome community and media sponsors, thank you for providing some awesome prizes and perks for our SWVan attendees:

Lastly, huge thanks to Guayaki, SPUD, KIND Snacks, Whistler Water, and Red Bull who have graciously donated supplies for the event.

Thank you again to all our amazing sponsors, and for more information on a complete list of all our awesome perks and prizes, be sure to check out our Big Basket of Prizes!

How to Prepare for a Hackathon or Startup Weekend

Guest blog post by #SWVan coach, Tony Gui

Challenged accepted.

All-star teams formed.

Adrenaline is the fuel for ideas.

Post-its, pivots, and coding, OH MY!

Hungry, Sleepless, and Determined.

All for the experience to pitch the next greatest idea or startup over a weekend.


Millennials are replacing their weekends for the opportunity to solve some bold and badass challenges to design better futures. Hackathons and Startup Weekends are being curated globally to bring together passionate leaders and entrepreneurs with diverse skills to design innovative solutions. Even NASA has seen the value of hosting their own Hackathon, providing access to their open source data to teams of technologist, developers, artists, designers, and entrepreneurs across the globe.

Whether you are a seasoned hacker/startup guru or a virgin curious about the experience, these weekends are full of adrenaline, excitement, frustration, emotion, and new learning. Come Sunday, it’s celebration of what your team has designed!

Having had experience in these events as both a participant and mentor, I’d love to share some key tips:

1 — Fall in love with the problem not the idea. Don’t trust anyone who thinks they have the next greatest idea. All ideas are crap and are based on assumptions. Get out of the building and test your ideas with real people who are having the problem you are designing for.

2 — Build Team Understanding. Chances are everyone on your team is coming from a different background. It may feel as though everyone is speaking a different language. As a team, understand everyone’s skills — some might be great at coding, visual design, or strategy. Visualizing the problem and process will make sure everyone is speaking the same language and feels heard.

3 — How Might We is an innovator’s most powerful weapon. As you unpack various problems along the weekend, keep asking How Might We. This secret will help uncover fresh ideas and insights.

4 — Visualize Everything! The one that picks up the pen solves the problem.

5 — The new 4 Ps: Prototype, prototype, prototype, and prototype.Design is not about building beautiful things. Design is about triggering the right responses. Build prototypes that can be tested on people to learn whether or not you are triggering the responses you want.

6 — Business Model Canvas. Learn to use the Business Model Canvas, this will help you visualize whether or not your startup makes any sense. How will you make money? Who are your customers? What is your promise to your customer? How will they know about it?

7 — Pitch! Show and Tell time. Make us resonate to the problem you are solving — what is! Show us how you can relieve that pain point for us — what could be!

*This was a guest blog post by Startup Weekend Vancouver 2015 coach, Tony Gui.

Tony Gui is a design strategist and creative hustler who splits his life between San Francisco and Vancouver.  He has founded two startups and is currently bringing the third to life. Kreatives will be a design and strategy lab working with investors and businesses to sustain innovation and launch new ventures globally.  Tony has taught design thinking around the world, mentored at NASA’s International Space App’s Challenge in New York, and is a finalist in the 2015 Fast Company Innovation by Design Awards. He is passionate about working with entrepreneurs and businesses to design meaningful futures.

#SWVanAlumni: Where Are They Now? Musefind Team Takes on the Big Apple

In the Vancouver startup community, you never know if the next person you meet will go on to become the next breakthrough startup entrepreneur. Startup Weekend is one of the key outlets for aspiring entrepreneurs to not only come together and bring their startup ideas to life, but also for them to meet an array of high potential founders with unique stories to share.

When military soldier-turned-artist and now startup CEO, Jennifer Yemu Li participated in Startup Weekend Vancouver in 2014, little did we know that this powerhouse entrepreneur and her co-founders would go on to build an online network of over 170,000 influencers on Instagram through their online platform, Musefind.

Musefind is an online platform that allows eCommerce brands to market through social media influencers. Incubated in Vancouver’s Spring Activator, Musefind has become the first and only Canadian startup to have been accepted and funded by one of New York’s leading tech accelerators, Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA).

We sat down with Jennifer to discuss her Startup Weekend experience and the support she has received from the Vancouver startup community that has led her to grow her business in New York.

How did you first hear about Startup Weekend, and what made you want to participate?

I had first found out about Startup Weekend from friends in the Vancouver startup community and by word-of-mouth. Around that time, I was also participating in the Kick program at Spring where I had met one of my co-founders, Stephen Shen, and then at Startup Weekend, I met my other co-founder, Andry Tanusdjaja. Since then, the three of us have built Musefind in Vancouver, and after getting accepted into ERA, we decided to move together to New York to grow Musefind even further.

Did you participate in SWV with the idea of Musefind — or was it initially a different idea?

The idea of Musefind was the same as what we went in Startup Weekend with — which was initially called Fame Mob. It had the same roots as Musefind, but we only had an MVP, and the idea wasn’t validated until we joined Spring.

How did you come up with the idea?

My co-founder Stephen and I both had similar experiences running an e-commerce business, and we both had frustrations around connecting our brands with influencers. So when we came together with our other co-founder, Andry, during Startup Weekend, we knew we were on to something.

When did you feel that Musefind first had legs?

When we sold our product to our first customer — without an actual product. It was just a concept during Startup Weekend, so when someone actually paid for something I had pitched to them, it was then when we realized we really needed to hustle and start prototyping.

You are the first and only Canadian company to have been accepted and funded by ERA in New York – congratulations! What led you to wanting to move Musefind to New York?

We knew that if we wanted to grow our company, New York was the place to be — and it was the best decision for our company. With ERA being the one of leading accelerators in New York, it was an honour to be selected as one of the 10 companies for their summer cohort, out of the 1000+ applications that they had received. Although we intend to grow our company here in New York during the whole duration of the program, we left our hearts in Vancouver, and we plan to be back if it’s best for our business. We want to be an inspiration to all the startups in BC, and come back to help further develop the startup community in Vancouver.

How have your first few weeks in New York been?

In just our first two weeks of being in New York, we’ve managed to double our growth, grow our revenue sales by 25% each month, and sparked a ton interest from major NYC agencies and digital advertising companies. We’ve even signed our first SaaS brand customers just last week!

What resources did you find the most helpful in Vancouver to get you to where you are now?

Definitely the people and the relationships we made in Vancouver. The support we received from Keith Ippel and Spring team — we couldn’t have done it without them. Also, developing our company in Vancouver really helped us connect and understand our customers better.

What were the best takeaways from SWV for you?

Learning how to work under pressure, meeting my co-founders, and being a part of Startup Weekend really made me realize how amazing the tech community was here in Vancouver, and support it has to offer for startup entrepreneurs.

How should someone prepare for Startup Weekend?

Be prepared for the unexpected — I know it’s a very vague thing to say, but be prepared for blow-ups between team members, or people not showing up the next morning — but more so, be prepared for the experience of working under pressure.

When should a startup founder start exploring options on participating in an accelerator — why not just look for VCs or angels?

It really depends on the level of the founders’ experience. If a founder had a past experience with a successful exit, perhaps working with a VC or angel would be beneficial. But for us, we were very focused on People, Product, and Industry — we wanted to be very selective on who we were going to be working with, and that they had a shared vision of what we wanted to accomplish.

What is the best business advice you’ve received?

Talk to your customers. Keith Ippel had always told us when we’re stuck on an idea or feeling crappy — talk to your customers to validate why you need to keep going. Spring definitely pushed us to keep going and we will always be grateful for their support.

Be sure to follow Musefind on social media to find out more about their journey through ERA:


We’re back, Vancouver.

Hey, Vancouver! Hope you’ve all had an awesome time celebrating on Canada Day! We’ve had some amazing highlights since organizing Startup Weekend Vancouver last November — with a number of our Startup Weekend participants like ConceptKicker, Votely, and My Green Space competing the Global Startup Battle (who, by the way, competed against 3,200 teams from 83 countries where ConceptKicker took home the title as the 2014 GSB Champion!) and now, Startup Weekend has become a part of the Techstars family with UP Global.


This year, we want to go above and beyond on hosting yet another epic Startup Weekend. After much anticipation, we’re excited to announce that the 2015 Startup Weekend Vancouver will take place on the weekend of November 20-22, 2015. With the support of our Venue Sponsor, Unbounce, Vancouver techies and aspiring entrepreneurs are invited to take a plunge into the world of entrepreneurship in just 54 hours.

Not sure what Startup Weekend is about? Find out more on our website — and stay tuned for our upcoming blog series featuring some of our past participants and various members of the Vancouver startup community.

Be sure to follow us on social media for more exciting announcements, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter below!