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Startup Weekend aims to boost small business prospects

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Tom Paes, Logan Savage and Jasmyn Newton say they love Sarnia and want its small business sector to prosper.

They also want more youth to put down roots and find reason to stay.

So they’re organizing the first Techstars Startup Weekend in Sarnia Sept. 28 – 30 at 148 Front St. N.

Startup Weekends are a worldwide phenomenon, bringing would-be entrepreneurs together for brainstorming and learning, mentoring and critiquing to come up with viable small business ideas.

“We feel like there’s leakage in Sarnia where people leave and we feel that entrepreneurship is one of the best ways to keep young people here,” said Savage.

He works with Paes and Newton at The Cube at Lambton College where people are welcome to bring business ideas and find support and information resources to get them off the ground.

Nurturing small business is their profession but Paes, Savage and Newton say they are volunteering their time to bring a Startup Weekend to Sarnia because that’s how much they believe in the concept.

Newton and Paes participated in a Startup Weekend in Toronto last fall and were convinced Sarnia needs one.

“It was the coolest thing ever,” said Newton. “People can be so scared to talk to other people about their business ideas but, at a Startup Weekend, you’re surrounded by like-minded people who support you, help you and challenge you.”

The weekend is billed as 54-hours of superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs.

Friday night starts with pitches, selection of the top 10 business ideas, and formation of teams.

Saturday and Sunday are about building a business plan, creating tools to market the concept, working with mentors from the local business community, and surveying at least 20 people to prove the concept is viable.

The organizers have purposefully chosen a downtown location for their event so there’s easy access to survey participants.

By the end of Sunday, each team presents their business idea and possibly a prototype of their product to a panel of judges. It’s a competition and winners are announced.

“The best part of this event is the feedback from people with a lot of business experience,” said Paes, who participated in a Startup Weekend in Brazil before moving to Sarnia.

“It’s about developing skills to grow your own business,” said Newton. “They might be technical skills, communication skills or maybe networking skills.”

There’s no cash prize for the winners but prize packages are being assembled.

The trio is looking for 60 participants to register for the weekend. They are also recruiting a variety of mentors, sponsors and judges.

Participants are required to pay $75 (students get a discount) and that includes seven meals throughout the weekend. Spaces have started to fill up and organizers anticipate a number from out-of-town.

Savage, Newton and Paes have made their own video that further explains Startup Weekends. It can be viewed on Startup Weekend Sarnia Facebook, website and Instagram pages.

For more information, visit  Tickets can be purchased  at  /

Got a great idea for a business story? Contact [email protected].



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