Take a bunch of fresh business ideas, throw them on the wall, pick the best ones, huddle up around them in small groups, figure out how to turn each one into a viable venture, and tell the world about it - all in one weekend.
This is the general agenda of the standardized entrepreneurial bootcamp known as Startup Weekend. These exercises happen all over the world but never in Prince George until Shauna Harper of Live Work PG, Will Cadell of SparkGeo, and aspiring entrepreneur Brittany West led the effort.
"This event is very good at binding a community. You get someone with technology skills, someone with entrepreneurial skills, someone with designs skills, put them together, and it's a perfect trifecta of business goodness," said Cadell. "You give them a challenge, they work on it to find a solution, make it workable, and then they pitch it to a panel of judges. That's how these weekends work, putting these mixes of people together to come up with innovations that might actually have application out in the real world, but it's also just to have fun."
The underlying theme is technology, but Cadell didn't want stereotypes to come to mind. Anything that improves on an existing item or process is technology, he said, anything that is built out of creative thinking. What Startup Weekends do is bring together people with an urge to invent and innovate and show them how to turn their ideas into business. A competition is built around it - the small groups are judged - but that is only to add a spark of urgency. After all, the whole thing happens in a 54-hour block of time.
"I've based my business on how I don't need to be anywhere in particular to do my job. I could be anywhere in the world - my clients are all over the world - but through technology I can be based somewhere that has the lifestyle I want for me and my family. I chose Prince George," said Cadell, who located here from the United Kingdom. "Why should our community not pursue better ways of doing our job, and better quality of life? We have the creative thinking here; we have the tools at our disposal."
Cadell listed some of the innovation notions he had heard since moving to Prince George a few years ago.
Anyone wishing to take part is directed to go to the event's own website (princegeorge.startupweekend.org) for more information and for the required preregistration. The weekend begins with a Friday night dinner and brainstorm on March 1, then plows through the next two days of structured inspiration. There is a cost (about $100) to offset the food and space rental.