Skill Garden is a prime example of what can come out of Okanagan Startup Weekend.
The idea for the platform, which matches novices looking to learn new skills with mentors who want to teach, was one of the winners of the 2017 event that is held annually for those looking to get a business idea off the ground.
This year’s event goes this Friday through Sunday at Kelowna’s Innovation Centre.
“Come with an open mind,” said Maizal Munif, who is a developer on the Skill Garden team. “You’ll meet some new friends, you’ll build your network, you’ll learn some new technologies, and you’ll get over your fears. It’s just great.”
The premise is simple. Developers, designers, entrepreneurs and anyone with an idea will assemble at the Innovation Centre on Friday night and spend the next 54 hours creating a prototype, validating their idea and receiving feedback from experienced entrepreneurs. The best ideas will then be singled out on Sunday night.
It was at the event two years ago that Munif, who had been a perennial Startup Weekend attendee and had won with other groups, joined the team that worked on Skill Garden.
“We validated the idea by going out and talking to people on the streets, whether it makes sense to connect mentors with life skills with students who don’t have much experience in them,” Munif said. “We got positive feedback from people on the street. They were all interested in it, so that was our market validation.”
Munif, whose day job is senior web applications developer for beelineweb.com in Lake Country, and the Skill Garden team have their product online at skillgarden.ca, and now they are trying to get mentors and students to sign up. After all, everybody is good at something.
“Kelowna’s going to be our test market, so we’re trying to see how many mentors there are that want to teach and be more social and be connected to the community,” Munif said.
Startup Weekend is another way to get connected to the community. A ticket will get you seven meals, benefits and discounts from Techstars’ global partners, one-on-one time with business mentors and “all the Internet and coffee you can consume,” according to its website.
“Even if you don’t have an idea, it’s the people that you meet and the friendships that you make. Those will go a long way,” Munif said. “It’s basically being able to network with people and learning about new technologies and what’s out there right now that you can get access to.”
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