Crossing the finish line: judging criteria for SWTO

You’re heads down and working hard, teams. Creating, validating, making, innovating… and for what? To help keep you on point while you drive your ideas to the finish line, here’s a reminder on the judging criteria. Remember, you’re competing for a host of rad prizes AND the chance to represent Toronto at Global Startup Battle: can we win a third a year in a row?!

The three key criteria are:


  • did your team get out and talk to customers?
  • are you actually solving a problem?
  • have you identified a specific target market?

Execution and Design

  • do you have an MVP or prototype?
  • how functional is your technical demo?
  • Design matters! How easy is your product to use?

Business Model

  • are you solving a problem? (value proposition)
  • is your idea unique?
  • how do you plan on making this a successful business?

Also, courtesy of our Global sponsor Coca-Cola, our friends at vitaminwater are sponsoring the vitaminwater do-er award! Here’s the details: 

Glaceau vitaminwater believes in the creators, the movers, the shakers, & the do-ers who are making things that help people rock their day like nobody’s business.  maybe it’s a breakthrough app that lets you play with your dog remotely while you’re at work and he’s at home (done!) or a chair that allows deaf people to feel sound so intimately they can hear it (happening!) and you – budding entrepreneurs who make the world go ‘round.

that’s why we are here, hydrating you through startup weekend and doing our part to help unleash the power of your idea. we want to acknowledge your hustle, your passion, your spirit by hydrating your team for a whole year and give you access to some of the resources we use that help us do what we do.  think of it as one way we’re trying to pay it forward. we were, after all, a start-up of our very own once.

vitaminwater and UP GLOBAL will be granting the vitaminwater do-er award to the team that best demonstrates their take-no-prisoners, hustle-their-hearts out, work-their-booties-off attitude.  so what if you don’t win startup weekend? we only care about the overall positive pursuit of your idea. 

for complete contest details click here

You’ve got your marching orders, SWTO teams. Dazzle us!




What's being worked on at #SWOttawa

The room hummed and buzzed with energy and eager attendees waiting to pitch on opening night of Startup Weekend Ottawa last night. Near 15 ideas across a range of verticals were presented and the top 7 were chosen to move forward. Participants quickly got to work recruiting like-minded folks with complimentary skills to join them and move the project forward. Teams finally settled in and started to brain dump around 10pm. Teams will now spend the next 1.5 days working on their MVP, Validation, Execution and Business Model in preparation for the Final Presentations on Sunday night in front of a panel of judges. 

Take a peek at some of the awesome projects being worked on by our teams:

PlayerBet: Betting / fantasy leagues for professional video gaming.  

HandShake: Helping professionals make and manage connections as simple as a handshake.

AirSupport: Virtualized AirBnB rental management.

Schmoozle: Choose your own adventure for dating.

Muse365: An online community for habit-forming daily doses of creativity.

“Locals”: Connecting travelers with locals for a better experience away from home.

Okie: “Carry your okie” patron-powered content for karaoke DJ’s. 

Keep following the event hashtags on twitter #SWOttawa to stay up to date with the latest details and developments throughout the weekend.

SWTO Teams: Meet the judges!

Wanna know who you’re presenting to tomorrow, teams? Here’s our fancy Internet of Things Edition Judge’s panel!

Natasha Baker is the founder of SnapEDA, a platform that accelerates the design and manufacturing of electronics. She is also a technology contributor to several publications including Reuters and Forbes. Natasha has a BASc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto, and has held technical and marketing roles within the electronics industry since 2006, working with companies such as National Instruments and Analog Devices.

SnapEDA is democratizing the development of electronics and fuelling the innovation of new gadgets, including wearable technology and Internet of Things devices, by providing the building blocks electronic designers need to design and manufacture products faster.

Karl Martin is the founder and CEO of Bionym, makers of the Nymi wristband which authenticates identity using the wearers cardiac rhythm. He has a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Toronto, with expertise in biometrics, cryptography, and privacy. A builder at heart, he’s happiest when creating things (especially with blinky blinky lights).

Matthew Leibowitz joined Plaza Ventures as Partner in 2012. Throughout his career, Matthew has been involved in all aspects of the investment cycle having completed dozens of transactions of early stage technology companies. Matthew was formerly a Principal with an institutional investment firm in Toronto. Matthew focuses on origination, vetting, due diligence, negotiation and deal structuring of investments and private equity financing agreements across technology sectors, as well as the refining of business concepts, selecting appropriate business plans for investment and monitoring and enhancing the
performance of portfolio companies.

Ian Collins is the founder and CEO of the Crowdcare Corporation, building the next-generation of app based tech support platform that will enable regular people to quickly and easily solve their everyday problems with their smart devices. Ian is an entrepreneur and investor who has founded 6 tech companies in the last 18 years, while raising over $100 million in venture capital.

Volunteer at Startup Weekend Toronto

Want to get involved with the Toronto startup community, network with like minds, and participate in a highly-creative, energetic and fun weekend? Then, consider volunteering at Startup Weekend Toronto this weekend! Our theme is The Internet of Things. It’ll all go down at MakeWorks (1139 College Street).
Click here to learn what volunteering at a Startup Weekend is all about.
If you haven’t participated before, watch this video. Toronto’s got a pretty good track record; the last two SWTO winners went on to compete against hundreds of international teams, and won the Global Startup Battle. THAT’S TWO YEARS IN A ROW!
You can sign up to volunteer here. On top of supporting the development of new-born startups, you’ll get meals all weekend, cool SWTO swag, and a seat to watch the final pitches on Sunday. And don’t forget the after-party. There are a few spots left — so act quickly!
Feel free to reach out to if you have any questions.
It’ll be cool to see some of you there. 🙂
The Organizing Team

Getting Ready for #SWTO

Startup Weekend Toronto is almost here!

The organzing team is pulling together all the details to make your weekend the best.  Get lots of rest, practice your one minute pitches and recruit your friends to join us.

Here are some Questions and Answers to help you prepare for the weekend:

Q. How do I get more information about the Weekend?

A. Follow us on twitter (@startupwkndTO), like us on Facebook (Startup Weekend Toronto) and watch the blog ( for updates over the next few days for announcements.  You can also start practicing your tweeting for the event using hashtag #SWTO.

Q.  Are there any tickets left?
A. There are a very limited number of tickets left for designers, makers, and developers here.

Q. What should I bring?
A. Your laptop (optional but recommended), power cords, connectors to overhead projector, lots of enthuasism, mobile device for the global hashtag battle.

Q. What should I do to prepare?
A. Get lots of sleep, figure out what problem could be solved by the Internet of Things that you can pitch, practice your pitch, do a bit of research on your idea (are others already doing it? how big is the market?).  Check out this blog post for pitch tips.

Q. How do I get to the event? Is there parking, transit, and bike stands?
A. MakeWorks is as 1139 College Street, just west of Dufferin St., on the south side.  There is limited metered street parking, so you might want to park at the Dufferin Mall (about 3 blocks north) – but we can’t officially recommend this since you might get towed!  If you are taking the TTC try the 506 College streetcar or the 29 Dufferin bus (south from the Dufferin subway station or north from Exhibition Place).  There are a few city bike stands on the sidewalks outside MakeWorks.

Q. What supplies and gear is provided?
A. You’ll have access to 3D printers and a laser cutter, from our sponsor MAKELAB. On Saturday we can use the tools and space at The Shop. Plus we have a bunch of core components to build with. Check out this blog post for the full list.

Q. I have more questions.  How can I get them answered?
A. Post them on our Facebook page or tweet at us.

See you all on Friday!

What Can You Make With All Of This?

With Startup Weekend Toronto IOT Edition in just under a week, we thought you may want a glimpse of what building blocks and tools will be available to you.

First, there are the incredible tools available at MakeWorksCheck out the list here. Yes, there is a laser cutter. And we have 4 of MAKELAB’s bank of 3D printers ready to run overnight to help you get what’s in your head out into the real world. Not to be left out, on Saturday, you’ll have access to The Shop where you can use their tools to fashion wood, ceramics, and more to contain your creations.

On top of that, we’ve got a bunch of other core components to anchor your IoT startup. Here’s a list:

  • Raspberry Pi Model B Kits
  • Raspberry Pi Noir Cameras
  • PiTFTs
  • Arduino Uno Rev 3 Starter Packs
  • Adafruit ARDX – v1.3 Arduino Experimentation Kits
  • Arduino WiFi Shields
  • Qtechknow ArduSensor Learning Kits

On top of all that, $300 in credits for Google’s Cloud Platform, a $100 credit for Amazon’s AWS, and a free .co domain for your shiny new startup.

So with all of this, you’ve got a platform to build the IoT startup you’ve been dreaming about.

Tempted? Get your tickets here and we look forward to seeing what you can build!


Tips for Friday night pitches

Are you getting excited about Startup Weekend Toronto – Internet of Things Edition?

Here’s some links and tips for your pitch on Friday night. Components of a great pitch: Hi, I’m [name]! The problem solving is [problem]. My solution is [solution]. To do this, we’ll need [team]. Where [name] = [your real name OR nickname], [problem] = the thing that your are trying to solve AND who does it help], [solution] = [name of your solution AND why it is unique AND how it used IoT], if time permits [team] = [types of people who can help you solve the problem].

  • Who can make a pitch? Anyone who has a ticket to the Weekend (sorry volunteers, mentors, and judges – you’ll have to get a ticket to pitch!). All participants are encouraged to make a pitch!  It’s part of the fun of Startup Weekend.
  • How long are the pitches? No longer than 60 seconds.  There will be a timer and you’re time is up at exactly 1 minute.
  • How do I sign up to make a pitch? Just show up Friday night.  When it’s pitch time, put up your hand if you’d like to make a pitch – you’ll get a big piece of paper with a number.  Put the name of your idea on the top of the page.  We will call people up to pitch in order based on the number on your paper.
  • Can I use a slide presentation for the pitch? You can use props but no slides.  Remember, you only have 1 minute.
  • Can I pitch an idea I’ve already been working on? No!  Startup Weekend is all about meeting new people and creating innovative solutions to real problems TOGETHER.  You can research your idea ahead of time. If you come with an idea you’ve already worked on, it’s not fair to the other participants and teams.  Play fair – as a general guideline – if you’ve created code, a logo, snagged a domain name, or already sold something – then don’t pitch it during the weekend.  You will meet some amazing people who may be able to help you with your existing idea after the weekend.
  • How will the pitches be voted on? Each participant will get 3 Post-It Notes.  Each represents a vote.  The pitch ideas will be posted around the room. Place your votes on the ideas you like best.  You can vote for each idea once – so be prepared to pick your favourite 3 pitches.  You can vote for yourself – but only once!  The pitch ideas with the most votes will move on to form teams and build the idea during the weekend.
  • My pitch idea was not selected, can I still work on my idea during the weekend?  Yes, but you need to recruit at least two other participants to be on your team.  Also, maker supplies will first be distributed to teams that were voted in.  We’ll try our best to get you maker supplies but we can’t guarantee that there will be enough to go around.  Your best bet is to join another team.

Here are some other resources:

Compello Drives Their Way To Winning Best MVP

By Nahel Jarmakani, Startup Weekend Winner

Startup Weekend is a great story of creation and collaboration. Over 50 complete strangers arrived at a space at Humber College Lakeshore Campus on Friday night not really sure what to expect, but eager to build the next big technology startup. I initially pitched “CleanCommute”, an idea I’ve had in my head for a few months, and the audience loved it. Attendees of Startup Weekend chose “CleanCommute” as one of the top 10 ideas, and groups where formed by choice. Entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs gravitated to the ideas they liked the best and the leaders they believed in most. Our 5 person team included a great mix of talent in design, development and business and we were excited to create something solid over the course of the weekend.


What followed was a series of customer validation surveys, interviews, brainstorming and feedback. The unique thing about this event is you have quick access to feedback from over 75 potential customers, including some truly great mentors. It is worth acknowledging HumberLaunch for the great job they did in delivering a well-organized event.

And thus Compello was born. Latin for “drive together”, Compello is a ridesharing software platform whose mission is to offer event attendees a fun, convenient and affordable way to carpool to and from an event. Besides saving users time and money, Compello helps connect people with common interests. For event organizers, the platform offers attendees an additional option for commuting to and from their event. Having won the award for best Minimum Viable Product (MVP) at Startup Weekend, what’s next for the team is to really validate the idea at an event and build a functional MVP.


To conclude, can you remember how many times you have had an idea in your head, which died at the next sight of a “similar startup” or with the next person that challenged you? Well I am here to tell you that through Startup Weekend, our idea can came to life in more ways than we could imagine. And you JUST might have some fun and meet some great people along the way!

Creation and collaboration…

For more information, please email

T-Minus 6 Days to Register! Supplies are ordered!

Only 6 days left to Register!

After brainstorming about what you may need in addition to regular stuff we’ve made the order for sensors, resistors, buttons, switches, LEDs, Arduinos, boards, adapters, plugs and more.

We cannot wait to see what will make!

Remember anyone can participate!  There are many roles that need to be filled on each team! If you have an idea, don’t be shy and come out and pitch!

T-Minus 8 Days to Register!

Are you thinking of pitching an idea?

Check out the following post for a great guide to help you think through your idea & structure your pitch!