On Sunday, June 2, the Rickshaw Theatre was home to plenty of technical difficulties—but many more technical delights as it hosted Startup Weekend Vancouver’s final presentations.
Perhaps chronologically the balance was skewed; it took a full hour and a half for the presentation to begin. But once the competitors began to take to the stage, it became quickly apparent that this would be one of the most competitive Startup Weekends Vancouver’s ever hosted.
The business concepts ranged from vulgar to sublime. The night’s opening act was Intiimi, a salacious enterprise that entailed 3D printing of user-designed sex toys. The ice was shattered by their tittering over satisfaction being guaranteed.
The second pitch was the appropriately named Pitch’n, a startup meant to connect would be volunteers to opportunities to put their professional skills to good use.
Regrettably, the technical difficulties came back with a vengeance for CleanDragon’s presentation. CleanDragon’s product, an app to gamify environmentally-minded shopping for families. The product’s concept was solid, but the technical failings rattled the speakers into generic platitudes. One hopes that the team’s members are not discouraged from participating again.
Familyping is a service meant to minimize conflict between family members spread across different cities, while Pingr can turn a smartphone into an interactive polling device.
Language XP, the evening’s champion, came out swinging; its positioning as the Expedia for international students hoping to coordinate homestays was reinforced by the fact that it already had begun to acquire a userbase. A userbase of one is still a userbase, though, and it’s easy to envision Language XP’s success.
GearExchange and Second Round followed, each meant to encourage technophiles to get active; GearExchange through the lending and borrowing of camping and athletic equipment, and Second Round through the creation of a Meetup-like social network for sports enthusiasts. The idea has legs, as the success of organizations such as Hockey Community has proved.
Promio, likewise, had traces of another Vancouver success story. Its bid to utilize Twitter contest data for marketing purposes gave it echoes of Fanbase, Vancouver’s Instagram marketing platform.
Until the judges’ announcement decided the matter, the other fan-favourite to win was Kurate Style, the brainchild of Jessica Karalash. Kurate Style, conceived to be a Songza for fashion, intends to provide outfit ideas and inspiration curated by mood or occasion. They won second place; both Language XP and Kurate Style are continuing forward.
The night was not without its missteps: Lean on Me had good intentions, but an unclear business model, and Cost Plus won hisses of animosity for daring to have brought eight years of experience and smaller-scale work in the field to the table that weekend. But once the teams had won their applause, and the organizers and Language XP had taken to the stage, the auditorium couldn’t have been a happier place.
Startup Weekend introduces people to the life of entrepreneurship—often to success in the field. The futures of the companies created that weekend are yet to be revealed. But the future of Startup Weekend Vancouver seems assured, and that’s reason enough for celebration.
Update: Language XP is now known as Domastay.