Startup Weekend is a 54-hour competition designed to provide an amazing experiential learning opportunity for AI enthusiasts, developers, designers, and business-minded individuals to come together to create a business. Join us for a weekend event centered on ACTION, INNOVATION, and EDUCATION.
Article by: Amir Abushanab
For some, the weekend of November 23rd will be just another chance to relax, maybe even enjoy a long weekend, before heading back to daily life on Monday. But for those with a drive for entrepreneurship, an eye for innovation, and a love of tinkering, it’s time to get busy. Each year, these people gather to attend the world’s largest business innovation competition: The Global Startup Weekend.
Startup Weekend is a 54-hour long contest that brings together hustlers, hackers, and hipsters of all backgrounds for the chance to prototype and pitch a complete business idea to a panel of mentors and veterans. The very first Startup Weekend was held at Boulder, Colorado in 2007 by Andrew Hyde. The volunteer driven organization has continued to grow, eventually being picked up by Techstars in 2015, and now operates in a staggering 1000 cities worldwide.
The flagship Startup Weekend’s ‘Global’ moniker isn’t just for show; more than 15 Startup Weekends, spanning from Hong Kong to Paris to La Paz, will be taking place simultaneously from, after which the winners from each city will duke it out on a global stage.
As of today, the most notable success to come out of Startup Weekend is Rover, a startup for dog owners. While once a simple idea at one of the many Startup Weekends, it’s now a thriving business valued at over a billion dollars. However, with all the buzz and potential of AI, there may be a new top dog soon.
As this year’s flavor of The Global Startup Weekend is themed around AI, Montreal is uniquely positioned to overtake the competition. With over $300M invested in AI in the last 3 years alone, it’s no wonder the city has become a hotspot for AI research and startups. Last year, the Montreal team ‘Skip The Line’ made it all the way to the final round in Paris, and this year looks to be no different as the AI scene continues to explode and the city overflows with top talent.
That’s not all Montreal has going for it though.
“There is something very unique about Montreal” says district m CMO Adrian Pike “I’ve been lucky enough to live in lots of places, and no where do you get the sense of community and desire to give back like you do here. C’est Incroyable. We’re very happy to sponsor an initiative that supports our young entrepreneurs”
With backing from big multinationals like Accenture, IBM, Bell Canada and BDC Capital, as well as fast-growing startups like district m, Dialogue, Element AI, and Lighthouse Labs, this year’s AI Startup Weekend is poised to be the best yet.
But it’s not all sunshine and roses. While it’s a great opportunity for personal and professional growth, at the end of the day Startup Weekend is still a competition, one that’s been likened to “a hackathon on steroids”; not only do the participants need to go through the herculean task of developing their prototype over a weekend, they also need to back it up with a solid business plan and a flawless pitch.
“I’ve seen things get very heated. You need an immense amount of focus, dedication, and skills to make something happen,” said Michelle Yu, one of organizers for last year’s Global Startup Weekend and this year’s organizing lead. “However, Startup Weekend participants thrive under this pressure, and form connections that take them down very exciting paths in their lives. Whether you want to make new friends and connections in Montreal community, or you’re someone looking for your next co-founder, I can’t think of a better place to find these diamonds”
Regardless of the outcome of the projects, one thing you can be sure of is that this weekend will be one to remember.
Want to get involved? All the info you need can be found here.