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.

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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.

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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 gocompello@gmail.com








5 Things to Expect at Startup Weekend – by Global Startup Battle Winner

Guest post from Greg Connell – team member on Startup Weekend Toronto’s first place team and Global Startup Battle Champion (2012) for GroupNotes.
Startup Weekend Toronto 2012 - Groupnotes
Startup Weekend Toronto 2012 – Groupnotes
1. Late nights and lots of coffee
Startup Weekend kicks off Friday night with 1 minute pitches and ends with the final presentations on Sunday evening. That’s not a whole lot of time to do everything needed to wow the judges, including customer validation, design, and the actual building of your idea. To make the most out of this time, you might have to sacrifice some sleep. Be prepared to stay up late coding and up early the next morning getting back at it. I promise, it’ll be worth it. And coffee helps!
2. Learn something new
Have you been wanting to learn a new coding language like Node.js, play with cool things like Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, and 3D Printers, or have an idea you think could turn into a business? Well there’s no better place to do it then a Startup Weekend.
3. Meet some cool people
MakeWorks is going to be packed full of talented designers, developers, hardware hackers, marketers, and people who love startups. Expect to work closely with your team and mingle with everyone else. You never know, that person might be your future co-founder, next employee, or someone who can help you with your day job.
4. Actually build something
Startup Weekend’s slogan is “No talk, All action”. That means there’s no time to hum and haw over options and there’s certainly no red tape to cut though. If you have an idea, you can build it immediately. Aim to have something built by the final presentation on Sunday and maybe, if you’re brave enough, even do a live demo!
5. Mentorship and advice from experts
At Startup Weekend, there will be a whole slew of mentors there to help your team out. These will be people with a whole lot of experience building things so I suggest you ask them questions and have them scrutinize your plan. The more help you get, the better your final pitch will be and the better chance you’ll have at taking home the grand prize!
Bonus: You’ll quit your job and start a company
This might not happen to everyone, but I’m willing to bet it will happen to someone. Over the course of the weekend, you’ll be validating your ideas, talking to customers, and building a ton of awesome things. But after Sunday, everything doesn’t have to stop. You can take what you’ve worked on and turn it into a real business that might even let you quit your job. It happened to my team at Startup Weekend Toronto in 2012. Who will be next?
Greg Connell







We Won Startup Weekend!

By Jeremy Haber

I am proud to say, “We won Startup Weekend!”

I am an ambitious entrepreneur and a proud sponsor of Startup Weekend Etobicoke with Simplistics Website Design (check us out at www.simplistics.ca).

As a business that started only three years ago, it was an honor to sponsor this incredible event. Supporting entrepreneurs and growing businesses is a passion of mine – in and outside of the work place.

So when I heard I could be more than just a sponsor, but also a participant, I jumped at the opportunity. Now I must admit – I had a really long week and was looking forward to a quiet weekend at home… but developing a business in 54hours? I couldn’t pass that up.

The weekend started off with hearing each entrepreneur’s pitch. With so many great pitches and incredible ideas, it was difficult to choose just one. I really would have loved to switch between each group, but a tough choice had to be made.

I narrowed my options down to three really unique ideas. Debating between “Pop-Up Here”, “Ownwise”, and “Aqua Repair”. I also was seriously also debating joining “What do I say?” an app that crowd sources if you should say something or not – they did a really great job presenting.

With my experience in building businesses and understanding what’s most important to the judges, I knew I couldn’t resist joining “Pop-Up Here”. I asked myself if this was a company I would invest in, and it certainly was!

Once our group was established we started investigating the business direction. We went all over the map determining the best route to take the business.

We had a million questions to answer and only 54hours to answer them.

We ended up with our minimal viable product being that Pop-Up Here matches short-term vacant commercial space with businesses looking to test out an idea in a retail setting. But getting there wasn’t easy.

Should we offer to furnish the place? Why don’t the landlords already do this? Is there even a market for this? How do we make money?

So how did we answer these? We did our research and made our calls. We even did a field trip to a vendor sale happening that weekend and surveyed the local business owners.

During Startup Weekend we had the pleasure of meeting so many great mentors. These mentors helped guide us through all aspects of the business.

We were the first group to pitch to a panel of judges. Our pitch went a little long because we had just too much to say! Our idea was solid – you could feel the passion down the hall! I could have sworn Tom was pitching Apple’s latest gadget. He claims he never pitched for Apple, although they should get his number.

After hearing so many great pitches and seeing how they evolved, we were one of four teams who won a physical prize.

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These four teams were certainly not the only winners. Everyone who participated was a winner. Building a business is hard work and it takes a lot of time and dedication to be able to do that. And for every person who participated in Startup Weekend – you should be congratulating yourself!

I hope you learned something new and exciting that you will take to the next Startup Weekend! I’ll see you there with evolving new ideas!

Oh, and just a little plug:

We help new businesses every day establish a presence online. We want you to succeed, so we build result-driven WordPress websites that allow you to take control over your website’s content! Let’s talk! 905-597-6943. You can also check us out at www.simplistics.ca/








SW Etobicoke Spins Out Some Awesome Businesses!

By Organizer Sarah Lenarcic and Volunteer Silvi Stermasi

Are you constantly daydreaming about quitting your day job? Do you have a great business idea that you’re looking to launch? Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? If your answer is yes, then Startup Weekend might be just the thing for you!

HumberLaunch just hosted Etobicoke’s first Startup Weekend, a 54-hour startup building frenzy, at Humber College Lakeshore Campus. Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities.

Entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs came together for an exciting, weekend-long event where they pitched ideas, formed teams, built products and launched startups. Energy was high and passion was evident as teams from technical and non-technical backgrounds worked on articulating and validating their business ideas.

Participants started off this weekend by pitching brilliant ideas such as Jogah—a social app for runners and Fuber—an Uber type service platform that delivers food from your favourite restaurants.  After forming teams around the top, the 55 participants spent the rest of the weekend developing their business models and preparing to pitch their final prototypes on Sunday night in front of the judges. Teams were judged on solution validation, business model validation and user experience.

The winners? We’re glad you asked!

Pop-Up Here matches short-term vacant commercial space with entrepreneurs looking to market a service or product for a brief period of time. They won Best Solution Validation.

GoCompello is Carpooling to events, made easy. At Compello, carpooling is a fun, convenient & affordable way to get to and from your next event. The team took home the award for Best MVP

OwnWise is for property managers seeking expertise and convenience. It is the complete solution for integrating security into core rental operations. They won the prize for Best Business Model.

Q.it allows you to post anonymous questions to people within a 2km radius of you. They left with the Diamond in the Rough award.

Winners received in-kind prizes such as office space, legal and accounting services, pitch assistance and many other things to help them continue to develop their businesses after the weekend.

“Meeting and collaborating with people from different backgrounds was by far my favourite part of the weekend. It’s so amazing when you and someone else are facing a problem but approach it in two completely different ways and are able to come up with a collaborative solution,” said Hamza Mortage an energy analyst and participant from Startup Weekend Etobicoke.

All in all, we think the event was a total success and can’t wait to do it all again! If you’re itching to test out an idea or simply looking to network with like-minded individuals you can check out Startup Weekend Toronto – The Internet of Things Edition happening November 21-23. For more information on Startup Weekends happening in a city near you, visit the Startup Weekend website!








Nov. 4 – Information Session for Startup Weekend Toronto

Please join us Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 6pm for an information session about Startup Weekend Toronto – Internet of Things Edition.

When: Tuesday, Nov. 4, 6pm

Where: EndLoop, 45 Camden St. Suite 300 (third floor) – near Queen St. West & Spadina

There will be a short talk about why participating in a Startup Weekend is so flippin’ amazing and a Q&A session with past winners.

No need to RSVP – just show up!








So Who Is Going To Judge Your Pitch? Meet The Panel!

By Angela Thibert

Angela is a student volunteer for Startup Weekend Etobicoke

We hope you are getting excited for Startup Weekend Etobicoke, I know I am! We are only 3 days away now, and you have already met all of the mentors. Now it’s time to meet the judges.

These judges will be listening to Sunday night team pitches and decide which team has the best solution validation, business model,  and user experience design.

Andrew White

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Andrew is the President and COO of CHAR Technologies Inc.  During his graduate studies at U of T, his passion for technology and the environment led him to co-invent the product SulfaCHAR, a zero-waste solution for the natural gas industry. He has bee very successful in his efforts and has won various awards for his entrepreneurial pursuits.

Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith

Kevin is the Chief Story Architect at Impact Assured Business Services, a company that helps tech startups and social enterprises maximize their impact. He helps to do this by focusing on a variety of different areas such as communication and branding strategies, sales, and video/design.  Prior to his role today, he has spent 14 years at Dell Canada and 20 years in sales, tech and marketing.

Ben Zlotnick

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Ben is the founder of INcubes Accelerator, a firm developed solely to helping startups. Aside from this, he has also launched many startups of his own, including one of the most successful Landscape & Construction companies in Toronto. Along with this wealth of experience, he also carries a business degree from York University.

Ferhan Bulca

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Ferhan is the CEO of Acumyn Inc, where he has devoted his time to making radiation therapy devices safe for use. Aside from this role, he is also the creator and lead instructor for the Business Innovation Certificate program at U of T. His areas expertise includes new business design and implementation, product and service development, and strategic planning and execution

Startup Weekend provides a great opportunity to pitch to a panel of professionals from the entrepreneur and investment community who are excited to share their knowledge and provide valuable feedback.

The event is coming up fast and it’s sure to be a crazy ride! Follow us on Twitter to stay connected. @SWEtobicoke #SWE2014








My first Startup Weekend Toronto

I had an idea… but no clue what to do with it…

Despite two business degrees and fifteen years working in marketing, I didn’t know how to take my first entrepreneurial steps.  As a thirty-something mom and full time government employee, I signed up for the 2nd Toronto Startup Weekend in June of 2011 with much apprehension and anxiety.

Before the event, I can remember scouring the Internet to find out what Startup Weekend was all about.  I found some early media coverage and a couple of blogs and learned that I’d have to pitch my idea and get enough votes to have my idea built over the weekend.  I read that there would be some networking before the short pitches so I created 8 powerpoint slides, shrink them down tinny tiny and mounted them in a View Master toy so that I could show the other participants my idea before I pitched.  It was a rather strange presentation method but I was able to engage with a handful of participants who encouraged me with smiles during my one-minute pitch. The pitch itself whizzed by so quickly and I was excited that I finally had shared my ideas in public.

When the voting was complete, the energy and excitement of finding teammates to help build the idea over the weekend was intense.  I remember having all these strangers come up to me saying, “Hey, I like your idea – do you need a back end coder/UI designer/front end guy” and thinking to myself that I didn’t even know the difference between a front end and back end coder. [And what the heck was Ruby on Rails?!.. they asked if we could use it and I thought that they were referring to a jewellery shop on a train!].  That night I met 7 amazing people who built a business over the weekend and became life long friends, mentors, and partners.

Saturday and Sunday were a real blur of activity, ideas, and creativity.  I outlined the problem we were trying to solve and the team collectively came up with brilliant ideas to solve them.  It was a real collaborative effort, with everyone bringing a different skill set to the team.  We broke into mini teams of front end and UI design, back end coding and database set-up and customer validation.  Together we built a working website, with a back end database, and recommendation algorithms, all validated with an online survey and guerrilla style interviews on the street.

One of my fondest memories was late Saturday night.  Everyone was jamming away and a crowd had gathered around one of the team members.  I asked one of the spectators what they were watching and he exclaimed, “You have one of the best coders in Canada on your team – it’s so cool just to watch him code!”  It highlighted to me how Startup Weekend brings people of so many backgrounds and skills together to achieve something so remarkable in only 54 hours.

The final pitches on Sunday were a blast.  We had formed a tight team and, since our product was targeted to expectant parents, we took a team picture of all of us pregnant (with balloons under our shirts).  One of the guys (thanks – Steven!) even pretended to be pregnant at the beginning of the presentation, which made the crowd chuckle and got the pitch off to a good start.  The five minutes went by so quickly and I was so proud of what we had accomplished together, even if we didn’t win.  It was also amazing to see the progress of all the other teams had made and I felt thrilled to be part of such a wonderful, vibrant community of entrepreneurs.

The event itself was over, but the experience continues to this day.  I’m still in touch with most of the team members and one even became my co-founder.

By Alison Gibbins, Startup Weekend Junkie and part of the organizing committee for Startup Weekend Toronto – Internet of Things Edition on Nov. 21-23, 2014.  Tweet your Startup Weekend questions to me at @alivey or @startupwkndTO.








Mentors Are Ready to Startup Your Weekend (part two)

By Angela Thibert – Angela is a student volunteer for Startup Weekend Etobicoke

If you can see yourself becoming an entrepreneur in the future then Startup Weekend Etobicoke is for you. Come share in an event where creativeness and innovation are celebrated. Startup Weekend Etobicoke is the place to meet others just like you who all share the common goal to build their own business.

Fortunately we have something that can set you apart- the chance to be mentored by several industry professionals who have once been in your shoes. Here are some more amazing coaches that will be around throughout the weekend.

Jacqueline Spicer

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Jacqueline is the president and creative director at INK TANK Design and Communications. Her company has won many awards for its work as a design and communications firm. Jacqueline’s expertise lies in marketing, public relations, and event management. Aside from this she enjoys writing, and brings that creative flair wherever she goes.

Hadi Aladdin

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Hadi is the Co-founder and CEO of CoursePeer Inc and various other organizations in the Middle East and North America. His different organizations touch on a wide array of topics from education, technology, digital advertising, and agriculture.  With such an extensive range of experiences, he can be classified as a social entrepreneur working towards a vision. As well, he is an experienced start-up mentor, author, and speaker. 

Mark Stoiko

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Mark is a professor at the Humber College Business School, where he loves to teach about business planning, general management, marketing, and sales. Before he started teaching, he ran his own advertising agency and marketing research firms. This is not his first time mentoring start-ups either. He has shared his knowledge and expertise with young entrepreneurs for many years.

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, you do not want to miss this opportunity to turn your ideas into action. All of these industry professionals will be available to offer the advice, knowledge and expertise you are looking for, whatever your business idea! Startup Weekend Etobicoke is the first step in getting where you want to go, so come out and make the most of it.

Stay turned for a look inside the judging panel that is lined up for Startup Weekend Etobicoke.








Mentors Are Ready To Startup Your Weekend (part one)

By Angela Thibert: Angela Thibert is student volunteer for Startup Weekend Etobicoke

Have you ever thought about starting your own business? You have some great ideas, but the problem is you don’t know where to begin? Let us inspire you. Startup Weekend Etobicoke gives you the opportunity to take the first steps in starting a business and provides fantastic coaches to share their expertise throughout the weekend.

All of these industry professionals are volunteering their time at the event with a common goal: to share their knowledge and help you build that business! These coaches will be at your disposal all weekend, so come and take advantage of these great resources!

Marvin Dolgay

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Marvin is the founder and president of Tambre Productions Inc., a music and audio production house. This is a company that he has built from the ground up from his apartment. He enjoys composing his own work as well, and has won multiple awards for his work in the entertainment industry.

Dalia Asterbadi

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Dalia is the founder and CEO of her own company realSociable, a company dedicated to helping other companies achieve a greater sales capacity through improving customer engagement. She has an extensive background in marketing, management, and loves to problem solve.

Julie Murphy

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Julie is the CEO and managing partner at CLUES, which aims to provide strategies and tactics to help organizations improve their effectiveness on a range of different dimensions. She has over 20 years of experience in marketing and customer relationship management. From her experience, she has most enjoyed customer profiling and customer value optimization.

Andrew Yoshioka       

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Andrew is the founder and president of Sanbonki Inc, a management consulting company.  His company focuses on helping other companies create value, and gain support from investment and partnerships. Andrew’s greatest insights are in the life sciences industry. He has already participated in many other Startup Weekends and competitions, so this is not his first time around.

Lyndon Johnson

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Lyndon is the founder and general manager of public relations firm Think Different(ly). His firm is different from others in that he is focused specifically on providing pubic relations, marketing, and publicity counseling to startups and small businesses. He is definitely in the right place.

Elizabeth Fenuta

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Elizabeth has extensive experience in the architecture field. She has completed her Masters degree at the University of Waterloo, and has spent time studying abroad in Italy. She has worked in various architecture and design firms around Toronto, and now is a partner at Hout Architecture Inc.

Having this impressive roster of coaches guiding you at Startup Weekend is an opportunity not to be missed! Come get work with experienced entrepreneurs and industry professionals and get advice specific to your business.  Startup Weekend is a great way to network and build meaningful relationships with people who may help you in the long run.

This post only provides a snippet of the coaches that will be participating in Startup Weekend Etobicoke. Stay tuned for Part 2 to learn about the other coaches!








Announcing: Startup Weekend Toronto – Internet of Things Edition

 

Startup Weekend Toronto
November 21st-23rd, 2014

Pssttt… did you hear?  Startup Weekend Toronto is back and the theme this year is “Internet of Things Edition”.

So get your thinking caps on and identify problems that could be solved by “the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing Internet infrastructure.” [source: Wikipedia]

In other words, come out for the weekend and create super cool enterprises that use physical and digital stuff to solve real world problems.

More details to come but for now, reserve your tickets before they sell out!