Island's next entrepreneurs get expert lessons at Startup Weekend PEI

It's a boot camp for would-be entrepreneurs; Startup Weekend PEI is the place to learn what it takes to start your own business.

'An opportunity to have a Business 101 class over the span of the weekend'

Startup Weekend PEI brings people interested in becoming entrepreneurs together, to learn how to put together an idea for a business. (Startup Weekend)

Startup Weekend PEI will bring together budding entrepreneurs, designers, and developers to launch start-ups or new businesses in the course of 54 hours this coming weekend.

The event is run by volunteers from the business community on P.E.I., including mentors with lots of success and experience running their own companies.

Alicia Bruce, one of the weekend organizers, was a participant last year, and learned how supportive the P.E.I. business community is to new entrepreneurs. (CBC)
Alicia Bruce, the co-lead organizer, became interested after participating herself last year, as she explained to CBC Mainstreet's Angela Walker.

"I think I just saw it on Facebook, and looked into it," she said. "I had friends in other cities around the world who had participated in it. I'd heard about the event before, so I figured I'd sign up."

No experience necessary

She was thrown into the business world, despite having no experience at all.

"I saw this as an opportunity to have a Business 101 class over the span of the weekend," said Bruce. "We were actually doing something tangible. You're trying out life as an entrepreneur over the course of the 54 hours."

There are no qualifications for who can come, other than having potential interest in creating a start-up.

They are so supportive and willing to help.- Alicia Bruce, Startup Weekend PEI

"You can come with an idea or without an idea, we're open to both camps," said Bruce. "If you come with an idea, you have 60 seconds to pitch it in the pitch firing round. And if you don't have an idea, you're going to be listening to these ideas, and help vote on which ones make it to the next level."

Once a few ideas for start-ups are selected, everybody splits into groups to do more brainstorming.

"Teams form around the idea," said Bruce. "If you were one of the people who pitched an idea, you're going to be trying to attract people to your team. And you're going to be looking for people in different sectors, or with different skill sets to help you develop your idea over the course of the weekend."

Working with the professional mentors, the teams then hone the ideas, and come up with a final product.

It can just be a learning experience, a way to plant a seed for the future, or even become reality.

Start-up success story

Two people who met over the weekend last year, who didn't even bring a pitch with them, came up with an idea during the workshop, developed it there, saw it go through drastic changes thanks to the mentors, and then become a viable business.

TopFeed is an online marketing platform that connects local producers with consumers, bringing products right to their doors. It launched as a start-up two weeks ago.

Alicia Bruce said the experience taught her how supportive the entrepreneurial community is on P.E.I.

"I'm not a business person, and I didn't see any opportunity to segue into that world," she said. "But through meeting the mentors and sponsors throughout the weekend, they want to see economic success on P.E.I. as much as any of us, and they are so supportive and willing to help and point you in the right directions even after the weekend."

Registration for Startup Weekend PEI is open until Friday, but space is limited. The cost is $60 for adults or $40 for students, and the information can be found at

With files from CBC's Mainstreet