Startup Weekends are all about working under pressure – given just 54 hours, “Weekend Warriors” with varying backgrounds, skills and experience levels gather to pitch ideas, form teams and launch innovative start-ups. But what happens when a fleet of 3D printers, laser cutters and rapid prototyping tools are added to the mix?
For Global Entrepreneurship Week, Ontario Centres of Excellence presented Startup Weekend Maker Edition Toronto, an event that brought developers, designers, makers and entrepreneurs together to move their business ideas from concept to creation. It was the sixth Startup Weekend
to be held in Toronto, but the first where participants built physical products in addition to launching start-ups.
Hosted at OCAD U, the Maker edition kicked off last Friday evening when attendees were given just 60 seconds to pitch their ideas to a room of potential teammates. Teams were formed to compete for awesome prizes including a MakerBot 3D printer, iPad Airs, Nymi wristbands, MYO armbands, start-up resources and the opportunity to participate in this year’s Global Startup Battle.
The “maker” element enhanced the creative energy of the event, as teams had access to 10 3D printers and a workshop of other tools to bring their product ideas to life. The prototypes created included a device that prevents seniors from falling, an interactive toy that lets people play with their pets from anywhere using their mobile phones, an intelligent cane that helps visually impaired people, and a smart pill box that monitors prescription taking.
Eleven teams delivered their final presentations to an expert panel of judges on Sunday afternoon. Griflens
, a start-up venture that creates interactive story beads for kids, emerged the winner, with second place going to Pawly
and third place to Ascend.
Thanks to the 3D printers, Griflens was able to create a prototype of their interactive story bead bracelet was used at a pop-up toy testing session on Sunday morning to get feedback from local children. The start-up is already taking pre-orders
for its “startup collection” starter kits and customized bead sets and will be using their 3D printer prize to create them.
Both Griflens and Pawly will go on to compete in the Global Startup Battle
Champions Circle, where they will face winning ventures from other Startup Weekend events worldwide. The grand prize includes $20,000 USD in funding, a trip to the Google headquarters in San Francisco, a Google+ hangout with a celebrity entrepreneur, and more.