On Thursday February 9th Torstar Digital employees will gather after work to begin the ambitious task of building a new business in just 54 hours as part of Startup Weekend. The event is not part of their regular work, but a voluntary activity that provides all employees with the opportunity to make their mark in the organization by pitching an idea for a new venture they want Torstar Digital to pursue. They will form into teams based on their favourite ideas and spend the next two days turning these ideas into real ventures. All the teams will make final presentations and one will win. Torstar Digital is the first company in Canada to do a Startup Weekend as a corporate event. Chris Eben, lead organizer for the Toronto Startup Weekend will help kick off the event and get Torstar Digital employees prepared for the intensive experience.
“Startup Weekend events in Toronto and around the world have proven to be one of the most effective ways to motivate and inspire innovation. I’ve seen people accomplish so much over the course of a single 54 hour period,” said Chris. “I’ve been truly amazed and have become a firm believer in the power of bringing people together, mashing them up, and seeing what they can do. Entrepreneurship can exist in many different forms and is a powerful force wherever it’s found. I’m excited to see what Torstar Digital can do with this event and happy to see an organization like this supporting this type of activity across their team.”
Torstar Digital has a history of building and growing innovative businesses both through acquisition and incubation across the digital space in Canada. Past acquisitions have involved scaling and growing small entrepreneurial ventures into leading Canadian businesses including WagJag.com, TravelAlerts.ca, Olive Media and EyeReturn Marketing.
Torstar Digital has also leveraged its startup culture and business assets to incubate new ventures including TOPS, a content management system, Jaunt.ca, a travel group buying site, and ShopCatch, a mobile shopping app and retail solution. Torstar Digital’s future lies in creating a home for great entrepreneurial talent that want to build Canada’s leading digital businesses, and the company believes that driving further innovation and finding great new ventures can come from tapping into the expertise and entrepreneurial drive of its existing talent.
“We are very proud to be the first company in Canada to hold such an event. We are focused on creating the next generation of digital businesses in the country and who better to do so than the smart entrepreneurial talent of Torstar Digital,” said Candice Faktor, VP, New Ventures at Torstar Digital. “We believe magical things can happen when we give people the opportunity to work together from different functional areas and portfolio companies in an entrepreneurial immersive experience like StartUp Weekend.”
On Thursday February 9th, participants will gather at Torstar Digital’s King Street offices to be inspired by successful Canadian entrepreneur, Daniel Debow, CEO of Rypple, who recently sold his start up to Salesforce.com. Throughout the next two days, teams will form and work tirelessly to produce innovative new ventures through developing a business model, seeking customer validation and building a product.
On Saturday afternoon the teams will present their final pitches to a group of judges, a mix of Torstar Digital senior leadership and prominent Canadian venture capitalists, including Matt Golden and Matthew Leibowitz. While the winning team will walk away with $5000, the real prize will be the opportunity to see their concept further developed and potentially turned into a real Torstar Digital portfolio business.