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Students test ideas at Startup Summit

  • [Queen's Startup Summit]
    Teams of student participants work on a project during the Queen's Startup Summit, which was held Jan. 30-Feb. 1.
  • [Queen's Startup Summit]
    Student participants discuss the details of their project during the Queen's Startup Summit, which was held Jan. 30-Feb. 1.
  • [Queen's Startup Summit]
    Participating students were divided into separate groups during the Queen's Startup Summit, which was held Jan. 30-Feb. 1.
  • [Queen's Startup Summit]
    Student participants discuss the details of their project during the Queen's Startup Summit, which was held Jan. 30-Feb. 1.
  • [Queen's Startup Summit]
    Teams of student participants work on a project during the Queen's Startup Summit, which was held Jan. 30-Feb. 1.

Undergraduates with an entrepreneurial spirit are gathering on campus this weekend for the Queen’s Startup Summit (QSS). The summit, which runs from Jan. 30-Feb. 1, brings together developers, designers and product managers who are given just two days to build a startup company and pitch their idea to a panel of judges. At stake is a cash prize to help make their idea a reality.

Klaudia Litwiniuk (Artsci ’15) and QSS co-chair, has been involved with the summit’s executive team since it began in 2013. She says that the intense environment serves as great learning experience for the student-delegates.

“They’re getting opportunities to network with industry professionals and other students while testing out an idea and seeing how other people react to it,” she says. “Delegates are learning the ins and outs of team dynamics and getting a taste of what larger conferences are like.”  

After pitching prospective products to the group, delegates vote on their favorites and form teams around the ideas they think have the most potential. After that, it’s two busy days spent making a business model, marketing plan and a prototype of their product. Working out of Goodes Hall, the teams have access to a group of mentors who have volunteered their time to offer guidance and advice to the students. Once time is up, they have 15 minutes to pitch their company to the judges and respond to critiques and questions.

Though many of the companies created for QSS don’t continue into the future, Ms. Litwiniuk says the benefits are in the experience and through meeting other students. Among QSS’s nearly 90 delegates, 30 are from universities other than Queen’s. 

“This is more about developing skills than finding a permanent career path,” she says. “That’s why we open the competition to students from first to fourth-year, from all over, we think everyone can make a contribution and learn something.”

Queen’s Innovation Connector is a founding partner and sponsor of the event which is meant to give students a brief foray into the life of an entrepreneur, along with its rewards, challenges, successes and failures. It’s just one part of an innovation network that includes seminar series, SparQ Labs and the Queen’s Summer Innovation Initiative.  

More information and the eventual results of the event can be found on its website.