Are you ready? Ottawa’s Startup Weekend kicks off May 24

Ottawa’s Startup Weekend kicks off May 24.

Nicole Belanger is a member of the Startup Weekend Ottawa organizing team. You can find her at @nskbelanger, and Startup Weekend Ottawa at @swottawa.

There are no two-ways about it: entrepreneurship is trendy right now. News of multi-billion dollar acquisitions and overnight successes like Pinterest and Instagram have piqued an interest in tech startups for many people.

But entrepreneurship isn’t all about big-dollar deals or splashy features in Inc magazine. No — it’s a lot less glamorous (and a lot more rewarding) than that. And one of the best ways to get a taste of the startup is to participate in Startup Weekend.

54 hours of insanity

Startup Weekends are 54 hour events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups.

Sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing entrepreneurship, these weekends held around the world are an experience unlike anything else. Having the chance to come together and spend an entire weekend (and I mean the entire weekend — very little sleep happens) with like-minded, entrepreneurial people from your community is an incredible opportunity to grow your network and flex your entrepreneurial muscle.

The Startup Weekend experience

It is almost impossible to describe the Startup Weekend experience in a blog post — the atmosphere is electric and the energy that comes from a room full of hackers and hustlers working together towards a shared goal is beyond words.

For more information about Ottawa’s Startup Weekend, visit

This video from Startup Weekend gives a great overview of what it’s like to be a part of your community’s weekend, but here is a breakdown of how a Startup Weekend works:

Friday night

Arrive in the evening, get some food in your stomach and have a drink or two while meeting your fellow participants. As soon as the evening festivities are over, we launch right into a no-holds-barred pitch session. Participants line up to pitch their startup ideas. These ideas are then voted on and teams are formed around the winning ideas. Teams work late into the night on their ideas.


Doors open at 9 a.m. and after a quick breakfast, it’s go time. As teams work on their ideas throughout the day, they will have access to mentors (local tech, design and entrepreneurship experts) who will help guide them as they prepare to launch their companies. Saturday is another late night as teams burn the midnight oil creating and testing their product.


Teams put the final touches on their products and prepare to deliver their pitch to the panel of judges who will choose the ultimate winners of Startup Weekend. The winning team(s) get access to resources and prizes that will help them take their startup to the next level after the weekend is over.

Are you ready to flex your startup muscle?

If you think you’ve got what it takes to join the thousands of budding entrepreneurs world-wide who have participated in Startup Weekend, be sure to register for the upcoming Startup Weekend Ottawa, happening May 24-26 at Shopify.

Tickets are $99 and include food and drinks for the weekend. Tickets for non-tech/marketing/business professionals are sold out, but there are still a few developer and designer tickets up for grabs.