This past weekend, Winnipeg was alive with an enthusiastic entrepreneurial spirit, as tech pros came together to pitch cool new projects to a crowd that was laser-focused on innovation. Ramp Up Weekend was in its 8th incarnation, and it brought all the excitement you'd imagine from a startup crowd.
The startup community in Manitoba is thriving, and the organizations supporting it are proof. Startup Winnipeg — aka Ramp Up Manitoba — is an example of the kind of collaborative nature being injected into our business world. Their goal is "to connect marketable ideas with the talent needed to launch them, and resource access to fuel growth."
Ramp Up Weekend is one of the key events of this group, and they bring together developers, designers, makers and entrepreneurs who may not otherwise be able to connect. The event gives supporting sponsors like MTS and Innovate Manitoba the opportunity to get right in the trenches with teams as they build the next big thing.
New this year was a podcast of the weekend, and it was also live on Periscope. (Side note: "What's Periscope?", you may be asking. It's a live video streaming app that was recently purchased by Twitter for upwards of $75 million. Users have flocked to the service (pun intended) and the amount of video people are consuming on Periscope is staggering. Keep an eye out for more on the service).
Local web app development company Bit Space Development created a walkthrough of the weekend to showcase their new PanoPla app. It's pretty impressive technology which offers panorama views to help you explore the world. Check out their panoramas from the weekend here or view them below. Click and drag the image to get a 360 view of each space, and use the navigation buttons to move to the next panorama.
What Happens in 55 Hours?
The weekend starts on Friday and continues over the next couple days. The objective is to build minimum viable products (MVPs) in 55 Hours. It's not entirely about how many startups succeed or launch, but more about building deep relationships among the attendees who may be learning and taking their first steps towards entrepreneurship in Manitoba.
Attendees have 60 seconds each to pitch their ideas. That's one quick pitch! But it's fantastic practice on demonstrating your product vision and benefits as succinctly as possible. For those who are fresh out of ideas, no worries, as you can still attend a Ramp Up Weekend. After all ideas are pitched, everyone votes for their three favorites and the most interesting ideas will gain traction and move forward in the process. Teams will begin to form into cross-functional groups, combining the different skill-sets of attendees, including designers, developers and other business professionals. The rest of Friday evening is spent brainstorming and planning for the next two days which will be about building MVPs.
It’s all day building on Saturday. This is when you really pull up your sleeves and get at it. Logos and websites are created, mock-ups are designed, products are built and customer validation happens. It's a real entrepreneurial tornado! Mentors are also on hand to float from team to team. They may also be asking tough questions and helping the teams survive the ‘pivots’ ahead.
This day allows you to continue building and have another round of mentorship. 'Pitch Prep' sessions are available for teams looking to scrub up on their pitches. The afternoon is time to polish up your project and pitch, because after dinner it’s time to head to the judges. Teams each have five minutes to pitch followed by five minutes of Q&A, and the pressure is on. Once everyone has finished their final pitches, the judges make their selections to determine the winners.
That evening, the awards are handed out and the teams catch their breath with a sigh of relief — and a well-deserved one at that! The weekend is over, but just like me, everyone hopes to see these startups move on and launch right here in Winnipeg.
Above: The weekend featured multiple podcast sessions. Check out their feed here.
Above: Jerin Valel of MTS was a Team Captain and Mentor for the weekend.
Above: It was an exciting weekend, and the podcasting team was hard at work.
Above: Collaboration is key, especially on group pics!
Winners of the weekend were also announced via the podcast. Listen below for the full report.
MTS was a corporate sponsor of Ramp Up Weekend 8 and proud to support the startup community in Manitoba. See other supporters of Startup Winnipeg on their site, and check out 20 Reasons to Start Your Business in Manitoba.
About the Author
Marney is the Vice President, North Forge Fabrication Lab. The North Forge Fabrication Lab provides access to advanced digital fabrication and prototyping equipment with support from entrepreneurial and innovation communities. In her spare time, she helps to shape one of the world's most respected blogs dedicated entirely to Additive Manufacturing / 3D printing. She is also a volunteer for TEDx Winnipeg as a team member who selects and works with engaging speakers.Follow on Twitter More Content by Marney Stapley