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Toronto’s Entrepreneurship Week

It’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, and so this week many are using this as reason to celebrate the spirit and efforts of entrepreneurs. In Toronto, Ryerson is hosting a range of events through their Start Me Up program. And the SociaLight Entrepreneurship conference happens this coming Saturday.

This past weekend, I had the chance to spend time at Start Up Weekend Toronto. The premise is that a bunch of enterprising people get together, and by their willingness to work together and focus collective efforts to build something of value, a project that was a mere notion on Friday evening can become a working prototype by Sunday afternoon.

There were several hundred people there to participate, all of them eager to chat and network and connect with a group with whom they could make something happen. Most identified as either developer, designer, business person, or volunteer, though all seemed to share common spirit of entrepreneurialism.

From my first moments on the elevator up, the people I met wanted to know what I was about and what value I could offer. Unlike many other professional gatherings, Start Up Weekend is a hands on affair, where those with ideas have 60 seconds to pitch the crowd, and then the best 20 ideas are voted on and those gathered self-organise into groups and to work on the selected projects.

The event’s organiser and host, Chris Eben, set out a few ground rules before handing over the mic for the pitches. When you address the crowd, answer the following four questions:

1. Who Are You?
2. What Problem Are You Solving?
3. How Do You Plan To Solve It?
4. What Do You Need From Us?

I think these are worthwhile questions that we attempt to make connections in the world.  And it was interesting that while not everyone decided to take the mic and address the crowd, we all understood that to have a role on the team we needed to be able to offer something of value. Which returns me to one of my favorite questions to ask of young people, “What are You Building Today?”

 

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