When biomedical mechanical engineering student Antoine Machaalani participated in last year’s Startup Weekend, he had a partner and an idea to use 3D printers to make prosthetics more affordable for the over 60,000 refugees in Lebanon who needed them.
“In one weekend we had a website built for us for free, we got mentorship from successful entrepreneurs which allowed us to come up with our first business model and, on top of that, we got to pitch our ideas and receive great feedback,” said Machaalani. “We went in with an idea and a partner and came out with a multidisciplinary team of five very motivated students that have been working on 3Dextra’s (his startup’s) mission since April.”
This year, Machaalani is returning to seek additional marketing support for Dextra’s upcoming crowdsourcing campaigns and to continue to expand the project.
In an effort to support ideas from an even broader range of disciplines, this year’s Startup Weekend is introducing two new categories (social impact and mobile health) to the existing Maker category, with $1,000 in prize money up for grabs for student entrepreneurs’ best pitches.
Budding entrepreneurs will have a chance to share their ideas, practise their pitches and get to know their fellow participants on Friday, November 18, and then break into teams to perfect their pitches before the final judging and awards ceremony on Sunday, November 20.
“We wanted this year’s event to be more open and to appeal to students beyond the typical disciplines from engineering and management schools,” said electrical and computer engineering professor Hanan Anis, NSERC chair in entrepreneurial engineering design, coordinator of entrepreneurship and innovation in the Faculty of Engineering and organizer of Startup Weekend. “That’s why we’ve introduced these new categories and why we’re partnering with the library to host the event, because they’re open to all.”
For Jasmine Bouchard, head of the Media Library, where the participants will spend their entire weekend perfecting their craft, it’s heartwarming to see library space being used in such innovative ways.
“Whether it’s hosting groups like Enactus to allow them to work on their social entrepreneurship projects, or welcoming Dr. Anis’s Startup Weekend, we’re thrilled to be partnering with groups that help accelerate students’ ideas,” said Bouchard.
“The library is an interesting setting. I imagine libraries as being quiet places of reflection, as opposed to vibrant collaborative spaces,” said Machaalani. “Sharing ideas in a library loudly would definitely make me feel that I'm acting ‘outside the box,’ which is kind of what entrepreneurship is about.”
Startup Weekend is free and open to all, and participants are welcome to share their ideas as loudly as they wish. Learn more about the weekend and register.