Canada’s First Startup Weekend Women’s Edition is in the Books

Taking part in Startup Weekend Calgary’s Women’s Edition (SWYYC) turned out to be the best decision I’ve made in a long time, and not only because it was Canada’s first women’s startup weekend, where 90% of attendance was women.

On Friday night, 35 ideas were pitched, of which 10 teams were formed. It was an intense 54-hour weekend, with great prizes up for grabs. I didn’t have an idea, so I didn’t pitch, but you bet I will next time.

Here are the startups that presented their pitches in front of the judges on Sunday night:

  • BookMyBlog – a WordPress plugin that converts blog content into a ready-to-print or e-book format.
  • Building Blocks – a digital content marketplace for the everyday person to make 3D products in their home; “the iTunes of 3D printing”.
  • ElderBoom – A cloud-based digital life preservation tool to help conserve an elder’s life online.
  • Fungi Solutions – an education platform that raises awareness, accelerates mycoremediation research, and develop solutions through citizen science.
  • iBuildWise – a platform to simplify the search, management and purchase of environmentally-friendly building products.
  • Parkit – an app that helps you find and rent out currently existing parking spots in downtown Calgary.
  • YourWatt$ – an app, supported by utility companies, that engages consumers to be aware of their energy usage.

And the winners were:
2nd runner up: edSPOT – a web-based platform to help teachers review and find technologies for classroom use, and connect app developers with their users.
1st runner up: My Pet Profile – a tool to ensure all pet documents/information are in one place; your pet’s digital online “pawprint”.
The winner: TradesLife – a community platform connecting qualified, skilled and credible tradespeople with professional opportunities; dubbed as “the LinkedIn for tradespeople.”

A huge congrats to TradesLife. 

As for me? I went, I gave it my all, and now I’m exhausted. In return, my team created and won third place! Here’s some advice to those attending a Startup Weekend for the first time:
1) Be prepared to do anything.

I spoke to Tara Kelly, one of our awesome keynote speakers on Friday night, and asked her advice on how to make the most of the weekend for someone who doesn’t have a defined skillset. She told me not to commit to any specific role, but be open to anything.   Being free from a title allows you to dabble in every aspect of a project-building process and, by the end of the weekend, have a better understanding of where you should focus your attention.
2) Ask all the questions you can to all the people you meet. And meet all the people.

There were a total of 12 coaches, 4 keynote speakers and 4 judges that came out to offer their expert advice on various aspects of startups. My team made use of nearly all of them and it was very helpful.

Aside from teams using the available resources, personal connections are extremely valuable. Networking allows you to expand your circle of experts and talk to them when you most need it in the future. If you can’t meet everyone, meet the most important people. And don’t forget to introduce yourself.
3) Don’t be married to the project.

Having a vision and expectations set out in your mind at the beginning is a dangerous mentality to have in a team setting because it can slowly cause tension in the group. The best thing to do when you get too involved is to try your hardest to pull away and find ways to give input into other areas of the project (flexibility).
I met so many wonderful women (some men, too) and learned so much, I feel like my brain will be full for a few days. One thing is for sure: I cannot wait for the next Startup Weekend to do this all over again.