I had an amazing Global Entrepreneurship Week that started in Sydney and ended in Wolfville. We had some superb meetings and presentations here in Sydney with the likes of Jeff and Phyl Amerine from Startup Junkie Consulting, Permjot Valia, Bob Pelley, Darren Gallop and the usual luminaries here at Navigate and UIT. Sadly I had to cut the festivities short up here but happily it was to attend StartItUp, and RiseUp, hosted by Acadia’s Launchbox.
The first of the two connected events was the startup competition: StartItUp!. This was my first experience of the sort. Friday afternoon the 45 participants were given 18 problems and had 24 hours to create a 3 minute pitch proposing a business solution to the problem. Factoring in the need to back up all assumptions with research or, ideally, real-life validation meant that these complex problems would require some energetic effort over a compressed time. I was attending without a preconceived group so after thinking about which problem I might enjoy solving I met Hilde, Marjan and Estha from the Cultiv8 Sandbox at Dal AC.
They seemed like great partners and they didn’t disappoint! We were trying to figure out a way to increase rural tourism in NS and immediately hit the phones. We were so fortunate to catch Jennifer McKeane at Tourism NS who was a wealth of knowledge and went above and beyond in helping us understand the data, issues and opportunities. We worked our ideas through the LEAN canvas to identify the specific opportunities and challenges and went to sleep Friday with a solid idea of what we were doing. We divided the labour Saturday morning and canvassed the Farmer’s Market before it opened to speak with vendors, attended the big craft fair down the road to validate the other side of our idea, created a mockup of our phone app, styled and practiced our presentation and had everything submitted and ready to roll by 2pm.
I think we did a great job, primarily due to some spectacular teamwork and the efforts and skills of everyone at the table! There were 13 teams and I was honestly disappointed to not take any of the top 3 spots (which would have been a share of the $10k prize pool!). We walked away proud of what we accomplished and wiser for having experienced the intensity of the competition.
StartItUp! was a tough act to follow but RiseUp! was up to the challenge. Also put on by the Sandboxes (charged with supporting startups in post-secondary institutions), this saw 15 startup founders or hopeful prospective founders meeting, networking, and starting to work though understanding the LEAN business model canvas and charting their path forward. Jenelle Sobey from Norex in Halifax gave an inspiring presentation on Saturday night about the opportunities Atlantic Canada has to make real economic progress through its startup infrastructure. Sunday morning Alastair Jarvis from Lunenberg-based Woodscamp opened all our eyes to what the startup process could look like, in sharing the 13 revisions to their LEAN canvas they iterated through before launching.
Woodscamp is quickly becoming my favourite Nova Scotian startup. I love that they are addressing a market inefficiency in a way that supports both sides of the market and will hopefully result in rural development and more efficient resource use. I followed up with Alastair after his presentation and he was kind enough to share some of the resources he found helpful in designing a startup that created a marketplace. I am working through them now.
RiseUp! is part one of a three part series. The second part will be on building a team and the third on funding a startup. I am excited about the relevance of the material and the opportunity to network with other startups at a similar stage of development. While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Sydney and haven’t come close to exhausting the learning and networking opportunities there, it was great to get some exposure to the larger Nova Scotian startup scene and meet some new peers and mentors.
I couldn’t have been happier with my experiences at Global Entrepreneurship week. Not only did I learn a ton but I have followed up with at least a half dozen solid connections and hope to count these people as advisors and friends as the process of launching my startup continues.