Startup Weekend – High School
Startup Weekend a Great Chance for Young Entrepreneurs to Share Ideas, Meet New Friends and Learn New Skills.
Some of the most successful, most impactful and more important businesses have started with just an idea? It may be an idea for a new product, a solution to a long-standing problem, or a way to better everyone’s quality of life.
The process that brings the spark of an idea to life is known as entrepreneurship. And many of those wonderful, creative and innovative ideas are born out of the minds of young people. They think outside the box, they are not yet bound by the structures and restrictions, the stresses and worries of ‘adult’ working life and are thus able to let their mind wander into uncharted territories, examine unforeseen avenues of progress, or just go off down some wacky, interesting rabbit trails.
Start Up Weekends were created a few years ago to harness this remarkable creative energy into 54 or so hours of learning, sharing, mentoring, team building and possibly life-defining entrepreneurial pitches. Now happening in more than 150 countries around the world, presented by the internationally renowned entrepreneurship community known as Techstars in partnership with the immensely influential Google for Entrepreneurs, the first Start Up Weekend is taking place in the Bay of Quinte Region this weekend, from Friday June 2, through to Sunday, June 4, at Loyalist College.
It is being organized by Quintevation, in partnership with Loyalist College’s Entrepreneurial Studies Business Launch program, and has been designed specifically for secondary school students from the entirety of the Bay of Quinte Region – from the shores of Lake Ontario to Highway 7 in the north, and from Brighton in the west to Greater Napanee in the East.
“We’re doing this because we’re trying to grow a culture of entrepreneurship here in the Bay of Quinte Region. If we don’t engage all areas of our community in this goal, everyone from our teenagers up to retired executives, then we’re not doing out job. We can’t just look at one small, narrowly-focused group of entrepreneurs and businesses, we have to encourage everybody to think entrepreneurially in order to find solution to some of the needs we have in our rural economy. And part of that is to focus on the next generation of entrepreneurs to encourage them to come back here after their schooling and help build our communities and our economies,” said Mary Doyle, General Manger of Quintevation.
“We want them to start thinking of their home community as a place where they can build something that is desirable and something that is going to draw them back after they have gone to school or gone and lived a bit in the city. If we can encourage them and get them involved in entrepreneurship and have them imagine a community that is something where they want to apply their expertise and creativity, and also live and raise their children, then we’re being successful. And this is part of Quintevation’s mandate and one of the big reasons why we have got involved with Techstars in bringing this Start Up Weekend to the Bay of Quinte Region.”
Any and all students who are interested in entrepreneurship, or who have some special interests or skills that might be of value to help an entrepreneurial endeavour, are encouraged to attend as they all have something to contribute. Even those who don’t pitch ideas can play a key role in helping to turn one of those ideas into a potentially viable business.
“The beautiful part of this whole process is that a young person can come with an idea, but no clue how to make that happen; make it a real business, or have the technical know how to make the app or whatever. And amazingly a team will form around them that will make it happen. That’s the magic of this weekend – it’s the development of a team around somebody’s idea, involving other kids who are coming in with skill sets that they want to apply to build something. They don’t necessarily have the ideas, but they have the skills. And that’s how companies get started by bringing together people with the ideas and other people who have the specific skills to bring the idea to market,” Doyle said.
There is also an unparalleled opportunity for the students to learn from an incredibly experienced and varied array of successful local entrepreneurial mentors.
“And on top of that fact is that this is part of a worldwide network of Start Up Weekends and is a Techstars event is amazing. I don’t think people realize what a big deal this event is. And for a student to take an entire weekend is a sacrifice, but they must look at it in terms of being one weekend in their life, but it could be a life-changing weekend where they learn something new about themselves, or they meet somebody new who helps change their lives or they develop something that actually turns into a viable business for them which changes their whole future,” said Doyle.
“And being able to put that they participated in a Techstars Start Up Weekend on their CV is really valuable on any kind of application for post-secondary education or for a job.”
The weekend has a format and a structure that is full of fun, free-flowing ideas, but also represents, to a certain degree, the kind of entrepreneurial ‘hot house’ atmosphere that often takes place in burgeoning start up companies.
“Friday the students are going to arrive in the late afternoon and do a little networking, have dinner and then listen to an inspiring address from a keynote speaker. For the rest of the evening they are going to get the chance to pitch an idea – they don’t have to – but they are going to be encouraged to. They will have 60 seconds and a microphone to say, ‘I think this would be a really cool idea. I would like to develop this or work on this or solve this problem.’ Then there will be feedback from the participants and a system of voting so that that several these ideas will be selected and those will be the businesses that are developed over the rest of the weekend,” Doyle explained.
“And after the pitches, the remainder of the night involves people forming teams around those business ideas. It’s a great way to actually witness the very organic development of a business team. So, people will be looking for specific skill sets from the audiences: someone who likes marketing and advertising, someone who have technical or coding skills. They can also get some of that expertise from the mentors the next day. By the time they go to bed Friday night they have pitched their ideas, formed their teams and starting at breakfast Saturday morning, they get to work on those ideas, which means building a business plan and figuring out how to build a minimal viable product.”
The expert mentors and facilitators will be around all day Saturday to help the teams, leading to a final pitch on Sunday for an auditorium full of their fellow students, all the experts, interested members of the public and a panel of judges. The pitches will last five minutes, followed by a Q&A session. These pitches can involve a demonstration, a working prototype or a multimedia presentation.
“Quintevation saw this as a really great opportunity for our region to run one of these world-class events, which is really the only one happening outside of Toronto and Ottawa. By connecting to Techstars and Google in this way we become part of that whole tribe and it opens up opportunities for our entrepreneurs,” Doyle said.
“We believe if we get this first one under our belts and people realize what is involved and they see the hype and they see the success of it, it’s going to really ramp up the excitement and interest for the next one and future Start Up Weekends down the road.”
For more information or to sign up for the event, visit http://communities.techstars.com/canada/belleville/startup-weekend/10948.
Or go to www.startupweekend.org.
For more information on Quintevation, please visit www.quintevation.ca.