Skip to main content

One idea involved linking drivers in need of a short-term parking spot to homeowners willing to rent them a driveway space.

Another floated creation of a calendar to integrate a busy person's assorted schedules into a single, visible timetable, so someone wanting a meeting could see ahead of time which time slots were available.

A third would connect students in need of online tutoring with a network of suitable teachers.

But it was Visualize.Me, a proposal that would revolutionize the résumé business so employers would view an online presentation of a résumé rather than just reading it, that won the top, $500 prize at the second, hugely enthusiastic Startup Weekend Toronto gathering.

The 54-hour symposium was a kind of brainstorming among teams of tech-proficient young people, many of whom didn't previously know each other.

Startup Weekend Toronto, is an offshoot of the non-profit Startup America Partnership, headed by AOL founder Steve Case and Carl Schramm of the Kaufmann Foundation, which provides seed money for new business ventures in North America and in dozens of other countries.

In theory, the "startup" theme encompasses any type of new enterprise. But in this instance, the weekend was entirely devoted to the Internet, social media and everything else in the digital world.

Second prize went to BabySimplify, an online tool for new parents to separate the products they really need for their child from the countless ones they don't.

And the third entry the panel of judges liked was an idea termed Reputate.Me, a kind of screening system that would use a person's personal history to assess their trustworthiness.

A big part of the weekend session in Toronto involved quick on-the-street consumer surveys, to gauge potential interest in the different projects, and the development of business models showing how the various ideas could make money.

All three winners will get a raft of useful legal and consulting services from various corporate supporters. And if the past is a guide, the teams that produced the winning presentations have a good chance of seeing their brainchildren emerge as bona fide, money-making companies

"It's a pretty mixed bag," organizer and software expert Chris Eben said of the 188 people who paid about $70 apiece to take part. Over the 2 1/2 days, their ideas were whittled down to the best 19, which were then presented in a series of four-minute pitches and judged Sunday afternoon at a venue on downtown Queen Street West.

"People who are looking to get out of the 9-to-5 corporate world, that's probably where the most commonality exists."