Vernon entrepreneurs thrive at Startup Weekend

Vernon tech enthusiasts soak up knowledge at second annual Startup Weekend Okanagan in Kelowna.

After a no-show in the first year, there was a large Vernon presence at the second annual Startup Weekend Okanagan in Kelowna.

Bringing their enthusiasm and talents to Kelowna were developers Marco Ariano, Bettina Berger, Kyle Newton, Linda Mork and Lorinda Jackson, along with designer/developer Jason Peters, showing off their coding and design skills. Entrepreneurs Teresa Deak and Hunter Le Blanc demonstrated their talents for innovation and strategy.

While there were no Vernon members among Startup Weekend’s winning team – awarded to the project planning app, Arkitektor – Jackson, Berger and Le Blanc were runners-up for their part in the parking spot finder app, Coo Coo.

Newton and Peters helped develop Chef Shuffle, winner of the Biggest Social Impact award, and Ariano was a member of the team that produced Shift Line, an app that earned the attention of enterprise organizations.

Deak and Mork were on the team that created Fresh Okanagan, an app that received more than 100 likes on Facebook on launch day.

Vernon team members came away with a lot of knowledge and connections, as well as an understanding of what it takes to get a tech startup going.

“The thought of starting a business can seem really daunting,” said Le Blanc. “The weekend has made me realize starting a business is a lot more realistic than I once thought.

“Most of all, I met some great people and I really look forward to keeping in contact with them.”

Added Newton: “The Startup Weekend Okanagan team really knows how to host an event. I got to learn some new tricks from my peers with so win or lose, I couldn’t possibly go away empty- handed.”

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model – anyone is welcome to pitch their business startup idea and receive feedback from their peers.

There were more than 40 pitches last weekend, and once the top ideas are determined by popular vote, it becomes a 54-hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing and market validation.

The City Of Vernon supported locals in the event by donating the cost of two Kelowna hotel rooms. The UPS Store/Bold Media donated the admission cost for the eight Vernon participants.

“We see technology and entrepreneurship as two key growth areas that will help diversify and grow Vernon’s economy,” said Kevin Poole, Vernon’s economic development officer.