Have you ever wanted to build a business quickly? How about in 55 hours? This is your chance.
Ramp Up Weekend is Winnipeg’s sprint-like product development event, held this year on June 9 – 11. According to event organizer North Forge, teams will “test their mettle in a heated competition that rewards the top ideas with cash and prizes and everyone else with amazing amount of fun. The goal is to connect marketable ideas with the talent needed to launch them and to access resources to help fuel growth.”
Known to be the premier event to safely validate and unleash business ideas, the weekend welcomes programmers, developers, designers, project managers, financial advisors, entrepreneurs and other subject matter experts to collaborate intensively and create a ‘minimal viable product’ – a product that can demonstrate all the intended features and benefits, and kick-off future development or business growth.
Ramp Up Weekend is held at the ACE Project Space within Winnipeg’s Innovation Alley. From Friday through Sunday, teams will work on projects together, develop concepts, pitch their plans and build a potential new business. The winners will also receive a chance to develop their product further at the ACE Project Space, gaining access to office space, student developers and assistance from their team of project managers.
Ready to get involved? Here’s everything that the weekend will entail.
Friday – Ideas, teams & pitches
Come with an idea of your own or jump on a team. You may be lucky enough to get onto the ground floor of a new startup business, as some of the ideas could become reality.
Attendees will have 60 seconds to pitch their ideas – and everyone votes on their three favourites. With the most interesting ideas gaining traction, teams will form into cross-functional groups including designers, developers, and entrepreneurs (also known in the startup community as “hipsters, hackers, and hustlers”, or your tech startup dream team).
Although many ideas will be brought forward, few will survive past Friday night. Don’t worry though – this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as waiting to move forward with the right ideas can save significant time and money in the long run.
The remainder of Friday evening will be spent brainstorming for Saturday and Sunday’s activities, which will include building the ‘minimum viable product.’ Technology applications, hardware components and 3D printed or laser cut prototypes can even be created over the course of the weekend, so it’s worth getting a good night’s sleep.
Saturday – Business plans & pivots
Saturday launches into a full-fledged product marketing whirlwind. Ideas are validated through very quick surveys and focus groups – and things move fast. Competitive analysis is performed to determine the viability of the product in the market. Branding is discussed, mobile apps and website wireframes are designed, and even product prototypes are created.
Business cases with financial impacts and exit strategies are completed. Some teams will even choose to launch their business on social media to gain some quick influential marketing momentum. Mentors will travel from team to team to help by asking the tough questions and giving valuable advice.
Organizers provide meals and snacks throughout the event, including plenty of water, coffee and energy drinks to keep your creativity and productivity in high gear.
Saturday is also moving day, as some teams may abandon their projects to join other teams. In other cases, ideas pivot into something completely new or an enhanced version of the original idea – not unlike the reality of many startup companies and product development teams. Ideas are flowing and the creativity is non-stop.
Sunday – Final pitches at The Met
Sunday is another busy day that starts with mentoring from the experts as you continue to prepare your product pitch and finalize your pitch decks.
On Sunday evening, teams move to The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre (The Met) for the final pitch of the competition. These are 5-minute pitches in front of a panel of judges, followed by a short Q&A about your product and business plan. After everyone catches their breath, awards are also handed out for top teams – and they are well deserved.
Even if you’re not participating, the final pitch competition is open for free to the public starting at 5:30 pm on Sunday, June 11. Come support the teams and see the exciting conclusion of the weekend. You can register here.
Incredible business potential
Ramp Up Weekend offers a unique opportunity to accelerate a business concept into reality, and you might witness the beginning of a few new startup businesses in Winnipeg after the weekend, as seen in the past. One of the more successful startups that emerged from Ramp Up Weekend is Permission Click.
Despite the potential future successes, the event isn’t entirely about how many startups succeed or launch a new business. It’s also about learning, building deep relationships among the attendees and taking the first steps towards entrepreneurship – right in Manitoba.
North Forge member Ted Sims commented on his experience at Ramp Up Weekend. “What a challenging and inspirational weekend! I met some new friends and saw the amazing talents of all participants come together to create some great pitches for new ideas.”
With another event on its way, there’s definitely more to look forward to as we see some of our province’s best and brightest talent take action in developing new technologies and innovations.
Up Next: Learn about some exciting new local businesses in 10 Winnipeg startups you need to know.