Startup Weekend Vancouver transforms ideas into success stories

Nov 15 2016, 6:31 am

How do you make a great idea happen?

That’s the question plaguing entrepreneurs across Vancouver – and some of them do it by participating in a weekend of encouragement, judgement, and gruelling work.

Startup Weekend Vancouver, an annual event for local entrepreneurs, has been giving startups a leg up for eight years.

Anyone with an idea can join the event and spend 54 hours putting together a prototype and business plan. At the end of the event, participants put their prototypes to the test for a panel of judges and potential investors.

The top three winning teams take home thousands of dollars in prizes to further their startups, and many others continue their ideas into the business world.

We’ve talked with two startups that originated in past Startup Weekend Vancouver events to learn how the weekends furthered their futures.

Culitech – Startup Weekend Vancouver 2015


Madeleine Liu/Startup Weekend Vancouver

If there’s one thing we should learn from Culitech, it’s that age doesn’t dictate how successful your startup can be.

Madeleine Liu and Angela Wang were only 16 when they signed up for 2015’s Startup Weekend Vancouver. They wanted to create intelligent cutlery to fight food-borne infections and allergies. Each utensil uses near-infrared spectroscopy to look at the unique pattern of vibration the food molecules produce and identify what’s actually in your food.

Liu and Wang won first place in the 2015 event, and have gone on to do even more. The technology is still in development, but Liu and Wang are hoping to get their product to market sometime in the future.

We’ve talked to Liu to learn how Startup Weekend gave this project the jumpstart it needed.

How did participating in Startup Weekend impact your entrepreneurship journey?

Startup Weekend Vancouver 2015 impacted our entrepreneurial journey by connecting us to an incredibly supportive network of other entrepreneurs and startup resources. Since last year, I have received an invitation to attend BC Tech Summit 2015, been featured in The Globe and Mail BC’s 10 Under 20, as well as BCBusiness’ 30 Under 30, and been offered a spot with The Next Big Thing. Most importantly, I have discovered my passion for entrepreneurship and the social initiatives that follow.

Where are you at with the venture now, and what are your plans for moving forward?

Since Startup Weekend, we performed several laboratory tests, validating our proposed technology. We remain active in the local startup community and continue to make progress.

Musefind – Startup Weekend Vancouver 2014


Musefind/Startup Weekend Vancouver

You don’t need to win a prize to have a successful startup – Musefind came out of Startup Weekend Vancouver and it didn’t even place in the finals.

Musefind was developed by Jennifer Li, Stephen Shen, and Andry Tanusdjaja. They wanted to connect brands to social media influencers, and created an end-to-end software platform to do so.

Since they participated in Startup Weekend Vancouver in 2014, the three founders have had massive success. To date, Musefind is the only Canadian startup to be funded by Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, a leading tech accelerator in New York. Because of this, Musefind received a $100,000 investment and a ton of sponsor benefits.

We’ve talked to Li to learn about how Startup Weekend Vancouver helped her startup get all the way to New York.

How did participating in Startup Weekend impact your entrepreneurship journey?

It actually made us hungrier for success than when we arrived. I learned a lot about pitching and presenting during Startup Weekend – one judge even told me that I came off intimidating. It’s all good feedback and learning. It’s only made us better as founders.

What was your overall experience of Startup Weekend?

The best parts of Startup Weekend were meeting Andry, our third co-founder, and learning how to better our pitch. Looking back at what happened in that week of November 2014, we’ve come such a long way. The initial fight and hard learning during Startup Weekend only built the foundation of the underdog fighting spirit in the three of us that now translates to the full team of Musefind today (17 people).


Have an idea you think you can take all the way? Maybe you should bring it to Startup Weekend Vancouver.

This year’s event is happening between November 18 and 20, and registration ends on November 16 at midnight. Tickets are $125 and available online.

Daily Hive Vancouver is a proud media sponsor of Startup Weekend Vancouver.

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

+ Listed
+ Sponsored