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Christchurch Startup Weekend 2014 – what an event!

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Congratulations to everyone involved in this year’s Startup Weekend Christchurch 2014 (#SWCHCH on Twitter) event – held at EPIC from Friday 14th  through to Sunday 16th March. An amazingly enjoyable and positive event which I think bodes well for the future of Christchurch and New Zealand’s business community.

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(Photo credit: Mark Tantrum)

For those who don’t know, Startup Weekend is a global movement for nurturing and developing entrepreneurs, helping them to learn new startup business and technical skills by forming teams and competing during an intensive weekend to build a new business in just 54 hours. This year’s event is the first since the first Christchurch Startup Weekend since 2012 – see my blog post from that event (… interesting to have my memory jogged that Pozly founder and now established #chch mover and shaker Tim Hatherley-Greene was on the winning team Tsk way back then…)

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This year’s event was amazingly well organised – nearly 100 entrepreneurs from a diverse range of backgrounds, ages and skillsets worked hard for two days, morning till late, developing new business models and honing their startup pitches for the event finale. The event was won by the codemonkeys from House Intel, with second prize going to One Great Gift. In all, nine teams formed and toiled relentlessly to impress the judges. The judges and organisers – veterans of Startup Weekend events around the world – were all agreed that the standard of competition was incredibly high by international standards.

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From my privileged perspective on the mentoring team, #SWCHCH’s success is yet another indication that Christchurch has turned a corner after the earthquakes and a clear signal that a new cohort of entrepreneurs is coming through. (In particular it was great to see so many women not only taking part but actively stepping up and leading their teams). As Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said while opening Sunday’s pitch event: these entreprenurs are the future of our city’s success and we need to continue to provide them with opportunities and support.
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One other positive observation from such a successful event is just how suited the EPIC centre is as a venue for these events – in its short lifetime EPIC has become the natural home for Christchurch’s entrepreneurs and innovators and we really can’t remember what life was like before it! Long may we continue to benefit from such a crucial infrastructural asset towards ensuring our city’s future success.

A big shout out to the Startup Weekend organisers, Geoff Brash, Jess Eastmond, Chanelle Scott, Robina Dobbie and also Memia alumni Sam Ragnarsson and Tom Harding. Plus facilitators Rowan Yeoman and Dave Clearwater and the whole mentor team. Amazing job guys, you should be proud of the results.

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