Check out the interview below with Larissa Drobot (@La_Rissa_D), co-organizer of Startup Weekend Hamilton 4 (@starthamilton) happening on April 25th – April 27th at McMaster Innovation Park!
Tell me about yourself.
I am a Hamilton native, an alumni of Mohawk College, a production manager (animation), and a freelance video editor. I am also one of Hamiltonâ€™s startup cheerleaders and an alumni of Startup Weekend Hamilton 2 & 3. This year I am one of the new team of volunteer organizers for Startup Weekend Hamilton 4. It is our first time collaborating together and we are building a great event on the strong foundation that was left to us by our predecessors.
Whatâ€™s Startup Weekend Hamilton 4 all about?
Startup Weekend Hamilton 4 is a 54 hour event where developers, designers, marketers, product managers, business and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch a startup.
Where and when is the event, and how can people register for it?
This yearâ€™s event will be held at Innovation Factory & The Atrium at McMaster Innovation Park (175 Longwood Rd S, Hamilton). It will run from Friday, April 25th at 6:30pm to Sunday, April 27th at 8:30pm.
People can register for it here.
Why did you decide to co-organize this yearâ€™s Startup Weekend event?
Two years ago I saw an article about Startup Weekend Hamilton 2 and I was intrigued by the concept and decided to sign up. I enjoyed the experience so much that I became more involved in the startup community. I have formed lasting relationships and am infected with the enthusiasm of the entrepreneurâ€™s in this town! After participating in Startup Weekend Hamilton 3 I decided that I wanted to help organize the event and create a great experience for others and their future startups.
How did the overall Startup Weekend movement get started? How big has it grown now?
Startup Weekend is a grassroots movement that began in 2007 when a group of individuals worked on a single business idea and developed it over the weekend. Today Startup Weekend events are held all over the world in over 100 countries and involve larger groups of individuals developing multiple startups in competition with one another.
What are some of the more interesting startups that have come out of past Startup Weekend events?
I might be a little biased as I am still involved in the project, but I feel Walkbug was one of the most interesting Startup Weekend startups we’ve had locally. Walkbug is an app that lets you create and share curated walking tours, allowing travellers to experience any city as locals do.
Outside of Hamilton I would say Groupnotes who won Startup Weekend Toronto and then went onto win at the Global Startup Battle. Groupnotes is a tool that you can use to easily share and comment on websites making it easier to share notes with groups of people.
Why should people attend Startup Weekend Hamilton 4?
Startup Weekend attracts the community’s best makers and do-ers. It is a great opportunity to build your network, create lasting relationships, and learn a new skill. If you survive the weekend you will have gained months worth of learning, building and networking by drawing on the resources of other individuals that a startup might not have at their fingertips.
Can anyone take part in Startup Weekend?
Yes. Anyone can join; it takes many different skill sets to develop a business.
What can attendees expect during the weekend?
On the Friday night there will be a rapid ‘Pitch Fire’ event where anyone can pitch their business idea, then the ideas are voted on and groups form around the selected ideas. The group members collaborate for the rest of the weekend to build the startup businesses. During the weekend mentors will be available to guide and answer questions that might arise. On Sunday evening the teams will present to a panel of judges who will then award prizes to the top three groups.
Do the startup projects at Startup Weekend have to be technology based, or are other types of startups allowed too?
Any business ideas are eligible however we strongly recommend that even non-tech projects focus on a tech-related deliverable such as a website for Sundayâ€™s presentations.
What will be different about this yearâ€™s Startup Weekend Hamilton event than previous years?
This year we are having an entrepreneur exclusive after-party on the Sunday night at a different venue (Stonewalls 339 York Blvd) where we will announce and award our prizes.
Where do you see Hamiltonâ€™s startup community going in the future?
The startup community is like a snowball going down a hill. As it gains momentum thereâ€™s no way in telling how big itâ€™s going to get. Hamilton has a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem with organizations, networks, resources and opportunities that foster the region’s new generation of entrepreneurs and young professionals.
What role do you see Startup Weekend playing in that community?
Startup Weekend plays a vital role in the startup ecosystem by giving startups a chance to meet cofounders, find developers, build a website, establish market validation, get support and get advice from experienced mentors. This process would normally take months but it all happens in 54 hours. Itâ€™s a great time saver and a way for entrepreneurs to learn and try new things and possibly develop an even greater idea.
How can the local community help you make Startup Weekend Hamilton 4 a success?
The local community can help us in many ways. Firstly get the word out. Everyone knows someone who would benefit from an event like this. Secondly, the â€˜weekend warriorsâ€™ as the participants are called need to keep up their energy, and any businesses that would care to support us this year or next year that could help out with refreshment/food donations, or sponsorship of prizes is always appreciated.