“Learn, network, startup. 54 hours,” is the official tagline of UBC Startup Weekend, a student-run, weekend-long workshop on entrepreneurship. Lead organizer and third-year integrated engineering student Pranav Menon understands the wariness students have of becoming entrepreneurs. The chances of failure can be overwhelming.
On February 3 through 5, Startup Weekend works to simulate the experience of being an entrepreneur without all the costs and consequences. Two of the most notable successes to come out of Startup Weekend in previous years are Gravit8, an online collaboration platform for students, and Ohm Wearables, a type of “smart” yoga pant. Although many think of tech companies when “startup” is mentioned, this is definitely not the case, as a startup can be anything. Any idea can be cultivated into a product and Startup Weekend is the place for it.
Participants can expect a weekend focused entirely on them. A big part of the experience is a new network of professional contacts and the opportunity to develop communication skills. All participants will be invited to a dinner before the event to find and mingle with potential teammates and mentors, so that teams are ready to go as soon as the weekend starts. Delegates will then choose a project that interests them, and work with a specialized team for the duration of Startup Weekend. On the final day, teams will present to a panel of judges, reminiscent of shows like Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank, and compete for the top spot.
One of the highlights of the event are personalized mentorship sessions, where a business professional is paired off with a team to help bring the idea to life. UBC alumnus Willson Cross, Sauder graduate and founder of GoFetch, a company now worth $2 million, will be among the mentors attending.
“The culture is becoming popular — the idea of entrepreneurship and starting something of your own,” said Menon
Furthermore, Startup Weekend doesn’t leave you wondering what to do next, since what is an idea without a dedicated team behind it to see it through from start to finish? A multitude of resources and programs, including e@UBC and the upcoming service EHub, will be available to help budding entrepreneurs.