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Innovation & Job News

Toronto Startup Weekend coming August 9-11

Toronto is stocked with an increasing array of incubators, accelerators, mentorship programs, and commercialization programs. But how do you know if you're ready to apply and participate in those full-fledged programs? One way to find out: try out an idea in a low-risk environment, and garner reaction before you get too far along.

Would-be entrepreneurs will have the chance to do just that at Startup Weekend, coming to Toronto August 9-11. Startup Weekends run in cities across the world, organized by a non-profit of the same name, and the goal is simple: help someone launch a startup in just 54 hours.

This upcoming Toronto installment has a theme: education.

"The startup weekends are a movement of entrepreneurs across the world who want to get together and practice the startup process in a really compressed timeframe," explains MaRS education specialist Joseph Wilson, one of the event's co-organizers. "The EDU angle on it is that there's so much interest in the education entrepreneurship space that specific verticals of startup weekends [became appealing]."

Startup Weekend EDU will be the first sector-specific weekend in Toronto, and the first education-themed weekend in Canada. "Toronto and Ontario are very good relatively speaking in education," Wilson continues, "and this has informed the entrepreneurship scene in the city. In the last few years we've seen an explosion of ed tech companies...and there are even more in the water, which we're hoping to draw out with something like this."

The weekend is open to people with a wide variety of skill sets, ranging from developers to designers to educators. The weekend is structured progressively: at the outset anyone can pitch an idea, and then based on the strength of various pitches, teams form around the most promising and work through them throughout the weekend.

"You can't build a product" in a weekend, of course, Wilson concedes. But what you can do, "is push yourself to push out a prototype or a quick beta, to test the concept, to quickly test the idea in the most practical way possible." It's a form of crowdsourcing, in a way, except not to raise money but to establish an idea's viability.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Joseph Wilson, co-organizer, Startup Weekend EDU
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