Announcing the Winners of the Startup Weekend Canada Competition

In September, we initiated the first Startup Weekend Canada Competition and saw events take place from British Columbia to New Brunswick. Teams competed for the opportunity to win the grand prize (1st place), first prize (2nd place), and second prize (3rd place) of our national competition.

The judging panel consisted of Sunil Sharma from Techstars Toronto, Sam Haffar from Real Ventures, and Jeanine Jacobson of Founder Institute. They had the difficult task of evaluating the city-based winning pitches to determine our national winners.

Today, we announce the winners of the Startup Weekend Canada Competition!

Photos by

SkiptheLine, a Montreal based team that wants you to never wait on hold again when calling customer service, has won the Grand Prize. SkiptheLine also took first in the #GlobalSWAI competition and was recently sent to Paris for Hello Tomorrow. They will be receiving one Founder Institute fellowship slot, a membership package with executives at Techstars and Startup Canada, and each team member will receive a copy of DoMoreFaster by Brad Feld and David Cohen.

Wiggins, a contact based knowledge management system and team based out of Bay of Quinte, has won second place. This team worked incredibly hard over the weekend and we are excited to offer them a Founder Institute fellowship for one member of their team.

Third place goes to Memo:Re! Memo:Re, otherwise known as Memory Chat, is a team that wants to find a way to keep your voice alive long after you are gone for your grandkids and kids. They are based out of Kamloops, BC, and we are excited to offer them one Founder Institute fellowship for taking third!

This competition brought out the best in our communities across Canada. Through Startup Weekend, we reignited the flames of innovation and we are proud of all attendees that took part in this experience.

We thank all of the participants and give a huge round of applause to our incredible organizing teams in Calgary, Kamloops, Montreal, Bay of Quinte, and Saint John. We also want to thank our partners, Startup Canada, Propulsio 360, and Founder Institute for their contributions in making this initiative a success.

See you at the next Startup Weekend near you!  

Pangolin takes the 1st place in Techstars Startup Weekend Toronto, powered by INFINITI.

54 hours of action took place during the weekend of October 20-22, in Workhaus Commerce Court in downtown Toronto. Participants from all over the Greater Toronto Area got together to pitch their ideas, form teams and take the first steps to launch their startups. The event was possible thanks to the support of INFINITI Canada, a company that empowers entrepreneurs in different stages, previously with their INFINITI LAB for later stage companies and now through Techstars Startup Weekend, the event where entrepreneurs go to ‘get their start’.  

On Friday night more than 24 ideas were shared in front of the audience, and out of those, 7 were chosen to be worked on by teams during the weekend. On Saturday, the teams were coached by mentors from all over Ontario, including mentors from the Toronto startup community like Oksana Salamaszek from The Working Group, Tariq Haddadin from Techstars Toronto, and Grant Brigden from the startup Rover, which won 1st place in the past edition of Toronto INFINITI LAB. The teams got advice from mentors from the INFINITI Canada team, including Julie Daigle Raphael Huegli and Chris Little. You can see the full list of mentors here.

Some of our Coaches and Jen Riedel, facilitator of the event.

On Sunday the teams presented a 5-minute pitch in front of a panel of 3 judges: Theresa Humphrey, Brand Manager for INFINITI, Angelo Del Duca, Angel Investor, and Sunil Sharma, Managing Director of the Techstars Toronto Accelerator Program.

The top 3 places went to the following teams:

1st Place: Pangolin –  Pangolin helps lower the premium for retailers by mitigating risks for insurance companies using smart IoT devices

2nd Place: Hybernate – Hybernate helps businesses decrease the expenses related to HVAC through IoT

3rd Place: GEM – GEM helps millenials be congruent with how they spend their money and what their values are, using a ‘GEM’ reward system.

Besides taking the top 3 places in the contest, one member of each of the winning teams got a full scholarship to join the January cohort of Founders Institute Toronto, so they can continue developing the skills needed to be great founders.

Techstars Startup Weekend was a great success. Thanks to our signature sponsor INFINITI, Workhaus for being great hosts, and to all the mentors, coaches and judges that helped empower this amazing group of entrepreneurs.

Stay connected to the Techstars Toronto community by following us on our Facebook page here. 

Announcing the Startup Weekend Canada Competition

Techstars believes in the ability to start a successful company anywhere, beyond borders, and beyond large metro areas.

In Canada we have seen a growth in startup activity, the introduction of the startup visa, and we are expanding with Techstars Toronto, our first Canadian Accelerator program. The time is ripe to drive momentum and to ignite the startup community nationwide.

What better way to do this than through a friendly competition? From September 1st through October 1st, we are excited to launch the Startup Weekend Canada competition! In this inaugural year we will see seven cities compete through Startup Weekend programs happening all over Canada.

From the far port city of Saint John to the beautiful lakes of Kamloops, startup ideas will be spurred into action and the winning team from each city will be given the opportunity to compete for a grand prize.

“This first Startup Weekend Canadian competition is the tipping point to inspire and educate Canadians, no matter where they are, to launch tech ecosystems like we did in Montreal, as well as to help each other.” -Sergio Escobar, Startup Weekend Montreal Community Leader

On October 3rd, a panel of esteemed judges, including our Managing Director for the Techstars Toronto program, will crown a grand prize winner.

Are you ready to kick start your entrepreneurial journey? Save the date (or dates!) and venture out to a Startup Weekend near you.

If you have an idea that you are ready to take to the next level, curious to learn the foundations of becoming a successful entrepreneur, or simply want to network with the brightest people from your city, sign up for an event near you.



Register Now

Kamloops, BC

September 8-10, 2017


Belleville, ON

September 15-17, 2017


Calgary, AB

September 22-24, 2017

Coming soon!

Montreal, QC

September 22-24, 2017


Brampton, ON

September 29-Oct 1, 2017

Coming soon!

London, ON

September 29-Oct 1, 2017

Coming soon!

Saint John, NB

September 29-Oct 1, 2017

Coming soon!


Reflections on my Hometown of Montreal, Canada

I spent most of last week in my hometown of Montreal and it was a really great experience.

I left Montreal in 1990 because at that time, support for people like me (crazy entrepreneurs) was very limited. I had met some American entrepreneurs and found them to be kindred spirits and much more supportive. When offered the opportunity to join a startup in Miami, I jumped at the opportunity and moved within three days.

How times of changed!

Previously, I’ve gone back to Montreal a number of times, but it was to visit family, not to be in the community.

Last week, I attended FounderFuel demo day. There were about 1000 people in attendance and the companies were great. John Stokes of Real Ventures was very kind to bring me up on stage and reminisce at how he had come up with the idea after coming to Techstars demo day in Boulder in 2009. They have now graduated 10 classes and their companies have raised over $100M. Quite an accomplishment!

For the rest of the week, I attended Startupfest, an incredible festival now in it’s seventh year, celebrating entrepreneurs from around the world. I gave the keynote and attended many panels and discussions, ranging from the future of accelerators, to diversity and inclusion and more.

The comment I heard most often was how nice Canadian entrepreneurs are, and how they don’t let that be a disadvantage at all.

Techstars is excited to expand our presence in Canada, with the addition of our new accelerator program in Toronto, which will have applications opening July 24, 2017. We have long run Startup Weekends in the region and I had the pleasure of hanging out with about 25 fantastic community leaders at an event last week. All were excited about the opportunities for Canadian entrepreneurs.

In this time of immigration uncertainty in the United States, it’s great to have neighbors to the north that are providing an inclusive and startup-friendly environment.  

Oh, and I got to visit the home I grew up in. I admit that I got a little choked up.

Over $20,000 In Prizes 

Startup Weekend Vancouver is an action-packed weekend of entrepreneurial learning, execution, and fun. With such a short timeframe for teams to build a new idea, it’s amazing to see what they come out with.
First Place Prizes $11,800: 
  • 2 Full Scholarship to Launch Academy’s Lean Entrepreneur Acceleration Program (LEAP) – $3,000
  • 1 Full Scholarship to attend Draper University – $2,000
  • 6 Full Scholarships to Launch Academy’s LEAP Online Plus – $1,800
  • MLT Western Canada’s Law Firm Services – $2,500
  • Sponsorship to any of Spring’s Programs – $800
  • 1 Year Pro Account from Wantoo – $600
  • 3 Months Full Scholarship to the Venture Acceleration Program – $600
  • 5 Days Workspace Access and Mentorship at iQmetrix’s ThinkTank in Gastown with $500 worth of Food & Beverage
  • 2 Hours Virtual Mentoring by DraperU team
  • 1 Year Blinkist Premium Subscription with full access to the whole library – $79.99

Second Place Prizes $4,900: 

    • 1 Full Scholarships to Launch Academy’s Lean Entrepreneur Acceleration Program (LEAP) – $1,500
    • 4 Full Scholarships to Launch Academy’s LEAP Online Plus – $1,200
    • MLT Western Canada’s Law Firm Services – $1000
    • Sponsorship to any of Spring’s Programs – $600
    • 3 Months Full Scholarship to the Venture Acceleration Program – $600
    • 6 Months Blinkist Premium Subscription with full access to the whole library – $49.99

    Third Place Prizes $2,800: 

      • 4 Full Scholarships to Launch Academy’s LEAP Online Plus – $1,200
      • MLT Western Canada’s Law Firm Services – $1000
      • 3 Months Full Scholarship to the Venture Acceleration Program – $600
      • Sponsorship to any of Spring’s Programs – $400
      • 3 Months Blinkist Premium Subscription with full access to the whole library – $24.99

      All ParticipantsPrizes

      • A chance to win a part-time iOS course at Lighthouse Labs – $1500
      • 6 Months Pro Account from Wantoo – $600
      • $100 off Launch Academy’s LEAP Online – $100
      • Start Smart Series seminar vouchers from Small Business BC – $49
      • Complimentary Square Reader
      • And more…

      Startup Weekend Vancouver is back on Nov 18-20!

      We’re excited to officially announce that Startup Weekend Vancouver is back again on November 18-20th, 2016 at Launch Academy. Since you were a participant from previous years, we’d like to extend this invitation to have you back participating in this year’s event.

      It’s very fortunate to have this year’s event hosted at Launch Academy, Vancouver’s leading startup hub, who has helped over 400 early-stage startups to get off the ground. Yours could be next! 

      Registration is now open for all designers, developers, and anyone with a background in business, marketing, and PR.  

      We look forward to seeing you at this year’s Startup Weekend Vancouver. Stay tuned for more exciting announcements coming soon!

      We’re about 4 weeks away from the event, so get your tickets soon! Tickets are available through Eventbrite until 11:59pm on Sunday, November 13th, 2016.

      The world’s biggest startup competition returns to Vancouver – tickets now available!

      Startup Weekend Vancouver

      Vancouver, are you ready? The world’s biggest startup competition is returning to our city for the second year in a row, and tickets are now up for grabs!

      Startup Weekend Vancouver takes place on November 20-22, 2015 at the new Unbounce HQ, and will bring together developers, designers, marketers, product managers, and startup enthusiasts alike to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups. We’re excited to be one of over 250 cities taking part in the Global Startup Battle 2015!

      The stakes are high. Last year, not only did ConceptKicker, the winners of Startup Weekend Vancouver 2014, win locally. They also competed against 3,200 teams from 83 countries and took home the title as the 2014 GSB Champion.

      Are you up for the challenge? Tickets are available now for purchase!

      We’re giving away a Lighthouse Labs scholarship!

      In celebration of the opening of ticket sales, we’ve partnered with Lighthouse Labs to give away one full scholarship to their Part-Time Web Fundamentals Course. If you’re trying to build a minimum viable product (MVP), communicate with your dev team, or gain valuable career skills, this opportunity is for you. Everyone who buys a ticket before Monday, October 19 will be entered to the giveaway! Learn more about the course.

      What’s in store this year

      This year’s Startup Weekend is shaping up to be another can’t-miss event. We’re bringing out some of our community’s most experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts to support our teams.

      Throughout the weekend, teams can meet one-on-one with coaches and mentors. Our current lineup of coaches and mentors include Jayesh Parmar (CEO & Co-Founder, Picatic), Hussein Hallak (Director of Strategy & Marketing, 3 Tier Logic & Head Instructor of the Lean Entrepreneurship Program, Launch Academy), Wade Foster (CEO & Co-Founder, Zapier), Elizabeth Steward (VP Marketing, Dun & Bradstreet Cloud Innovation Center), and Keith Ippel (Co-Founder & Partner, Spring Activator).

      On the last day of Startup Weekend Vancouver, teams demo their prototypes and receive feedback from a panel of judges. We’re excited to welcome Boris Wertz (Founder & General Partner, Version One Ventures), Ryan Holmes (CEO, Hootsuite), and Wade Foster (Co-Founder & CEO, Zapier) as this year’s judges.

      We’ve also partnered with fantastic supporters to give the best perks and prizes to our attendees. They include Unbounce (our venue sponsor), QuickMobile (our gold sponsor), BCIC, MailChimp, Smythe CPA and Lighthouse Labs (our silver sponsors), iQmetrix and Spring Activator (our bronze sponsors), & Futurpreneur and Todoist (our community sponsors).

      We’re continuing to add more mentors, coaches and partners. Stay tuned for more updates by following us on Twitter, Facebook, or signing up for our newsletter.

      Grab your ticket today before they sell out!

      Zone Montreal: A New Match-Making Platform for Entrepreneurs!

      Welcome to Zone Montreal Inc., the matchmaking platform designed to help you meet and learn from other members of the entrepreneurial community!

      What is it?

      It’s Brain Dates for learning humans, where you can find like-minded people interested in sharing knowledge face to face, one-on-one.

      How it works?

      Zone Montreal Inc

      Congrats Fondation Montréal Inc. for this amazing project.

      Montreal-based MakerBloks Hits Crowdfunding Goal in Two Days! Wants to Rethink How Kids Learn Electronics

      MakerBloks A Montreal startup that wants to teach children about electronics is seeing strong success on Kickstarter, reaching its $25,000 goal on the second day of its crowdfunding campaign. MakerBloks are colourful blocks that allow children to create real electric circuits. A Kickstarter campaign to fund their creation launched on Tuesday morning, raising over $20,000 within 24-hours and reaching its goal on Wednesday afternoon. Francois Poirier, the CEO and creator of MakerBloks says he got the idea while working as a product designer. Clients would come to him with little more than a circuit board and his job was to make the products look good and be easy to use, but he says, “I actually had no idea what they had in their hand, the [printed circuit board] itself was a mystery to me.” Poirier says his then-seven-year-old niece was developing a strong interest in science and technology at the same time so he thought it would be fun for the two of them to learn about electronics together.

      “I looked at all the different ways to do it, software, books, DVDs and toys,” he says, but nothing fit. When it comes to toys, he says, “they are all bad, they are all using outdated technology.” He says the toys on the market might make sense to engineers but they don’t make sense to a six-year-old. Having worked as a consultant for Mega Brands, he thought about creating an educational tool that involved bright plastic blocks.

      One of the MakerBloks kits being launched as part of the Kickstarter campaign also includes a augmented reality feature – a mirror that attaches to an iPad’s camera and allows children to solve puzzles in a virtual game using their real-world blocks. It’s another thing that Poirier says sets MakerBloks apart from other electronics kits on the market. “They don’t use what the kids are using,” he says. “I thought it was important to adapt to the kids of today.” Still, Poirier says MakerBloks won’t be going entirely virtual. “For me it’s really important to always have the hardware piece, the blocks,” he says. “Because if they are more interested in electronics when they are 10, 12-years-old and they actually want to pick up a soldering iron and build real circuits, it’s always going to be a physical world.” As part of the Kickstarter campaign, MakerBloks is offering several different kits as individual perks, that will help guide future developments from the company. “I think the Kickstarter campaign will actually give us a really good idea of what our audience wants,” Poirier says. That’s a big part of why he decided to launch his product through a crowdfunding campaign. “Gaining visibility and validating the product is the major reason we’re doing the Kickstarter, for sure the funding will help but it’s not the main goal,” he says. “Dollars are the best feedback you can get.” While delivering the MakerBloks on time and living up to the promises made in the Kickstarter campaign is Poirier’s main goal right now, he’s also got his eye on the future. He wants MakerBloks to be the flagship product of a company that’s focused on science, technology, engineering and math learning for kids.

      Makerbloks Awards
      Makerbloks Press Coverage

      Originally posted in TechVibes Canada

      Montreal-based Makerbloks Wins 2015 Silicon Valley CrowdPitch Competition!



      Congratulations to Francois Poirier of MakerBloks, the winner of the 16th Founder Showcase CrowdPitch CompetitionMakerbloks creates small, reactive building blocks that allow anyone to learn and build electronic circuits without any technical background. The company took first place at the Montreal TechCrunch Pitch-Off, which led to them attending TechCrunch Disrupt in New York to showcase their new product.


      François Poirier is a graduate of Silicon Valley Founder Institute as well as Google-backed Startup Next program in Montreal, Canada.

      Originally posted on