This past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in Startup Weekend Toronto - Maker Edition, a 54-hour event to create a startup from scratch. It was my second time attending an SW event this year with my first one in Kitchener-Waterloo at the Communitech Hub back in September. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect this time around because it was a special 'maker edition'. I knew there would be tons of 3-D printers and physical prototyping involved which was one of the reasons why I felt intrigued to participate, giving myself a new experience. Not to mention, I knew I would feel extremely productive and refreshed coming out of this weekend.
The event kicked off on Friday night held at OCAD University where anyone could pitch an idea in 60 seconds to the audience. After audience voting, the pitches were narrowed down to 11 teams. From there on, it was officially time to build the startup from user experience to branding and validations from customer surveys.
I joined WaveRider, a tracking device primarily for surfing that syncs to a mobile app. WaveRider allows surfers to track, compare, and compete with friends, along with tracking and managing each surf session with detailed analytics. It wouldn't be a maker edition without a 3D prototype now would it! I worked closely with one other designer where we designed the user interface and user experience of the mobile app along with a 3D model of the device using the 3D printers provided by MAKELAB.
WaveRider didn’t place but the overall experience was still worth it. By being a part of this 54 hour event, I was able to make new friends, collaborate and share ideas and lastly got the opportunity to work with talented developers and marketers to create a functioning prototype of our product.
What I learned:
- Avoid micro-managing. WIth such a short amount of time to build and create a startup, excessive supervision and managing small details will only slow the team down. Trust that each teammate is doing their part to the best of their abilities.
- Communicate with each other. There were times where progress was slowed because we weren't on the same page with certain features of the product, or what our plan was in general. Despite how little time we have, planning and communicating is key in order to have a thorough idea come through.
- Less on details, more on the idea. Startup Weekend isn’t simply about coding up a nice MVP, or having the most beautiful design interfaces, it’s about having a strong understanding of the market and need for the product. As a designer, it was difficult to not dedicate an immense amount of time fixing minute details on the designs but in the end, I knew that the judges were looking to see if we had an idea that would work .
- Connect. The startup events in Toronto never fail to bring out the most talented and awesome people in the entrepreneurial community; each with their own stories. It was important for me to build relationships and to try to learn as much from them as I could while I was there.
Overall, Startup Weekend Toronto Maker Edition was a success. I had a great time, met a ton of cool people and am grateful to have had the opportunity to create WaveRider. I'm definitely looking forward to attending more like this!
Our event presentation can be viewed here.
Media: WaveRider in Canadian Business.