News / Ottawa

Share what you have, say Startup Weekend winners

Three newly minted online Ottawa-based businesses have emerged victorious from a weekend-long event where 50 entrepreneurs with software, design and business backgrounds raced to create new web-based services.

At the sold-out Startup Weekend Ottawa event last Friday, attendees pitched 31 ideas to the group and the top 10 became new businesses teams would work on for the rest of the weekend, said the event's organizer Cheryl Draper.

Only three walked away with the top prizes Sunday night, with first place going to the site, a new online community that helps users share their belongings with people nearby.

"My Dad is always complaining about not being able to use tools like a miter saw, which, if he bought (one), it would sit in his basement," said David Rust-Smith, the team's founder and leader. "How great would it be if we came up with a site where you can share the stuff you have and borrow from the people around you?"

Rust-Smith said that the free site will allow users to rate and recommend items they borrow. "If you're new to a community, it's a good way to meet your neighbours," said Kyle Sergeant, one of the team's members who noted the service would be a boon to tight knit communities of car enthusiasts who could share specific tools, or new moms who could swap baby gear.

The team walked away with prizes such as nine months of free office space, legal advice and online courses from to help them launch their business.

Second and third place winners took home similar prizes, but their businesses were of a different nature. Second place winner allows fast-food, take-out and food truck customers to place their orders ahead of time and pre-pay, avoiding line-ups.

Third place winner Virtual Plaza is a shopping system that allows people to buy products by scanning bar codes from print ads and posters.

"It was a great, great experience and I'm glad to hear Cheryl is bringing it back in November," said founder Myles Foster. "There's a lot of entrepreneurs in this city and it's an excellent gateway to bring similarly minded people together."

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