Okay, there was an actual winning team, but on the whole the objective of the entire Waterloo Startup Weekend exercise was to develop businesses around improving life in local communities – and it looks like “mission accomplished.”
Starting last Friday night, 70 young entrepreneurs gathered at the Communitech Hub in Waterloo to pitch their ideas and out of that group, 12 business ideas were adopted. Over the next 54 hours, after splitting up into groups including team leaders, developers and graphic designers, these 12 companies were hatched, business plans were drawn up, model websites and apps were developed and in the end came the pitch. An august group of judges from the Waterloo community, including Mayor Brenda Halloran, voted Barn Raiser the winner.
Originally the idea for Barn Raiser was Erin Atchinson’s based on her experience with volunteerism. It is a website designed to provide a meeting ground for local business, community builders and non-profit organizations to share resources, ideas and connections to support community building. Atchison’s team, consisting of herself, Tammy Bender and Charlotte Chan, impressed the judges with their minimum viable product, extensive market research and viability in the community.
“I find it almost ironic that the thing we were creating is similar to what Startup Weekend is,” Atchison told Communitech’s Kayleigh Platz. “I have lots of big ideas, ideas that could maybe go somewhere, but don’t have a place to put them. This weekend did the same thing for me. It gave me a reinvigorated sense of validation for ideas, especially with the mentors. It was an outlet to put our passions.”
Fibernetics’ co-founder John Stix worked as a mentor all weekend long helping the 12 teams with all their business development questions, pitch problems, or just to function as a sounding board.
“The amazing journey that an Entrepreneur embarks on can be incredibly rewarding and inspiring,” John said. “The relationships, celebrations, failures, risks and memories, make all the sacrifices seem like a group badge of honour that you wear proudly on your sleeve. These entrepreneurs astounded me with their innovation and go get it attitude. I can’t wait for the next one!”
Saferide finished second with their app that helps the youth to track, score and improve their driving skills.
Third place GLIDR, developed a “random app of kindness” platform allowing users to anonymously gift strangers with such things as a cup of coffee or a free lunch.
The intent of the community-focused Startup weekend was to inspire change in the Waterloo Region and to act as a catalyst to inspire the group of 70 extraordinary young people to engage in changing their community for the better. Members of the Barn Raiser team plan to continue with developing their new business, which demonstrates that it worked.
As part of their First Prize, Fibernetics is providing a NEWT Small Business Bundle that includes Unlimited Internet two business phone lines with Unlimited Canadian Long Distance free of charge for the next two years.
From John and everyone at Fibernetics, congratulations to all who participated, and a special congratulations to Barn Raiser on their well-earned win.