Edmonton’s First Startup Weekend Education

SWEDU Edmonton Banner
Startup Weekend Education Edmonton

 

What is Startup Weekend?

Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities. StartupWeekend.org has hosted 1500 events in 726 locations around the world. Last weekend we held Edmonton’s first ever Startup Weekend Education (SWEDU) and the first Startup Weekend in four years. I had never participated in a Startup Weekend before but I knew it could be a powerful learning experience and I was excited to help bring it to Edmonton.

Startup Weekend Education Edmonton
Startup Weekend Education Edmonton

I believe that we are in a time when we can transform education. I don’t think that entrepreneurial thinking should be reserved for those who plan to start a business. Knowing how work with a team to take an idea, refine it, validate it, and pitch it are useful skills for everyone to have. SWEDU provided educators, students and others with coaching from experienced designers, business mentors, and industry professionals as they learned to design and build prototypes. At the end of the weekend teams pitched their ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win prizes to help take their idea to the next level.

We didn’t attract as many educators and students to SWEDU as we had hoped, partially because it was a new event, and partially because of the length. Educators spend a lot of time working outside of the classroom. I would probably not have been able to spend a whole weekend doing something like Startup Weekend when I was teaching in Innisfail, I always had correcting and planning to do. I think SWEDU will lead to other Startup Weekend events here in Edmonton which will help spread the world about the Startup Model. I’m sure it will be easier to sell tickets to the next event.

Stephanie and Angie getting ready for the start of Startup Weekend Education Edmonton
Stephanie and Angie getting ready for the start of Startup Weekend Education Edmonton

I was recruited to the SWEDU team by Angie Terasoff. Angie, Stephanie Chan and Sherry Langland had hosted the first ever Startup Weekend Education in Western Canada in Calgary in October and they were eager to bring the event to Edmonton. Yvonne Guertin and I were the only ones on the organizing team who had never been to a Startup Weekend before. Based on feedback from teachers and students who told us that a whole weekend was too long for them, we shortened the event by one day, making the timeframe to prepare a pitch even shorter.

Day 1, Friday March 6th

As things kicked off at NAIT, I was probably as nervous as the participants. Angie kicked things off with a warm welcome to all and an explanation of what to expect. I provided what could have been my worst ever introduction to our first speaker, Chris Gusen of Make Something Edmonton. Sorry Chris, I promise I’ll do a better job next time to get a chance to introduce you. After Chris talked about Edmonton’s great maker attitude, 14 year old entrepreneur Tom Stoesz gave participants advice about making the most of the weekend based on  his experience at SWEDU in Calgary, where his team won for their pitch.

Speakers Chris and Tom have dinner with Carrie and Anne-Marie
Speakers Chris and Tom have dinner with Carrie and Anne-Marie

 

Then, the real work began with the group randomly divided into teams and given a few minutes to prepare half baked pitches. It was a great icebreaker and gave people an opportunity to start to work together as the prepared a pitch for the random idea they had been assigned. One person from each team had one minute to make their pitch.

Preparing for Half Baked Pitches
Preparing for Half Baked Pitches

 

Ryan delivering the fist half baked pitch
Ryan delivering the fist Half Baked Pitch

After the half baked pitches people had a few minutes to prepare pitches for their own ideas. You can view the half baked pitches and the initial pitches here.

Preparing to pitch
Preparing to pitch

After the pitches dotmocracy was used to vote for best ideas.

The best ideas were selected using dotmocracy
The best ideas were selected using dotmocracy

Those who had the best ideas picked their dream teams and got to work refining their ideas. Coaches were on hand to help.

Ryan's team gets to work
Ryan’s team gets to work

Here is the archive of what Day 1 looked like on Twitter:

 

Day 2 Saturday March 7th, 2015

On Saturday morning we had a great breakfast provided by the students at WP Wagner High School and served by NAIT hospitality students.

NAIT Hospitality Students
NAIT Hospitality Students

Angie welcomed everyone back and laid out the agenda for the day. Pitches needed to be ready by 6pm.

Angie kicks off Day 2
Angie kicks off Day 2

  David Lloyd introduced us to the Lean Canvas model which is a better tool for startups to use because it is easier create and update than a traditional multi-page business plan that take weeks to create.

David Lloyd introducing the Lean Canvas model
David Lloyd introducing the Lean Canvas model

Teams worked all day to refine and validate their ideas.

Planning
Planning
Compu-Thinking Validating with Stephanie and Sherry
Compu-Thinking validating with Stephanie and Sherry
Compu-Thinking Planning
Compu-Thinking planning

 

Priya validitating her idea
Priya validitating her idea

 

Preparing for the pitch

As the afternoon wore on the focused shifted to preparing for the pitch.

Practicing the pitch with Reg Cheramy
Practicing the pitch with Reg Cheramy
Team Super Great Wonder Club getting ready to pitch
Team Super Great Wonder Club getting ready to pitch
I am History
I am History
Team I am History
Team I am History

 

 

 

 

Crystal Politics kept it in the family
Crystal Politics kept it in the family
Breakaway Group Voice 2 Action
Breakaway Group Voice 2 Action

You can view reflections about their Startup Weekend experiences from each of the team leads here.  

The Pitches

At 6:30 it was time to present the pitches to the judges and audience.

About the pitch
About the pitch
The Prize: A Startup Toolkit
The Prize: A Startup Toolkit

If you’d like to watch the pitches, follow this link.  

The judges deliberating
The judges deliberating
The fantastic judges
The fantastic judges

 

Compu-Thinking was the Runner Up

Compu-Thinking
Compu-Thinking

The Winners of Startup Weekend Education Edmonton – Crystal Politics

Winners Crystal Politics
Winners Crystal Politics

I had a great time, I learned a lot and I shot more than 6 gigs of photos and video! I’m looking forward to the next Startup Weekend event in Edmonton. Bryanna Kumpula and I have already talked about a food related event.

Here is the archive of the Twitter feed on day 2:     

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *