Creating Amazing At Startup Weekend Okanagan 2013

Team Vernon 2013 was Marco Ariano, Jason Peters, Linda Mork, Bettina Berger, Hunter Le Blanc, Kyle Newton, Teresa Deak & Lorinda Jackson

Startup Weekend Okanagan began on Friday at 6pm with pizza, beer and some ice breaker games to get the attendee’s energy up.  When asked, about 70% of the room raised their hands to acknowledge that this was their first Startup Weekend.  Amongst those 70% were eight people from Vernon.

Last year, as far as I knew, there were no other people from Vernon at Startup Weekend Okanagan, it was just me.  With all the brilliant people and entrepreneurial spirit Vernon has, I knew that for the next one, there needed to be some North Okanagan talent present.

And so, the dream of Team Vernon was born.

It didn’t take much to get sponsors to help get a team of developers, designers and entrepreneurs down to Kelowna for the weekend.  One conversation with Kevin Poole, Manager of Economic Development & Tourism for The City Of Vernon, and two Kelowna hotel rooms for two nights were secured. A passing comment to Sherman Dahl, owner of the downtown UPS Store and Bold Media, and we had 6 Startup Weekend event tickets paid for.  The immediate support by the Vernon business community was astounding.

And with a little flexibility and wrangling, eight Vernon techies headed to Kelowna to be a part of one the most fun, crazy, and innovative events in the Okanagan.  Developers Marco Ariano, Bettina Berger, Kyle Newton, Linda Mork and Lorinda Jackson, along with Designer/Developer Jason Peters, showed off their mad skills. While entrepreneurs Teresa Deak and Hunter Le Blanc demonstrated their creative powers.

There were no Vernonites on Startup Weekend Okanagan’s winning team, the project planning app, Arkitektor. However, Lorinda, Bettina and Hunter were on the team who’s business took second place, the parking spot finder app, Coo Coo.  Jason and Kyle were on the team that developed Chef Shuffle, winner of the Biggest Social Impact award.  Marco was a part of the team that produced Shift Line, an app that got the attention of enterprise organizations, within BC and beyond.  And both Linda and Teresa were on the team that created Fresh Okanagan, an app that received over 100 likes on Facebook on launch day and will be moving forward with an enormous amount of regional support.

After 54 hours of hard work, Team Vernon members came away with more knowledge and connections, as well as an understanding of what it takes to get a tech startup going.

But don’t just take my word for it:

“The thought of starting a business can seem really daunting, even when you have an idea it can be difficult to gain any traction. The slogan of “No talk, All action” is very fitting for Startup Weekend. It’s amazing what a group of people can accomplish when you sit down and are forced to get things done under time pressure. The weekend has made me realize it’s a lot more realistic than I once thought. Most of all I met some great people and I really look forward to keeping in contact with them” – Hunter Le Blanc

“Absolutely astounding to witness so many people come together, interact, plan, strategize, and produce their products in such a short time span.” – Jason Peters

“The Startup Weekend Okanagan team really know how to host an event. Everyone was helpful and very organized which made it easy for me to focus on the task at hand. I also got to learn some new tricks from my peers with regard to my profession so win or lose, I couldn’t possibly go away empty-handed.” – Kyle Newton

My guess, Startup Weekend Okanagan’s Team Vernon’s going to be a whole lot bigger next year.

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