Recently, Centre for Arts and Technology sponsored three of recent Graphic Design Graduates, Curtis Blanchette, Rudi van Heerden, and Dan Swedberg to attend Startup Week Okanagan. This popular local annual business and technology event brings together industry leaders and up-and-coming wizards alike to push their creative boundaries, come up with new venture and project ideas, and just overall have an awesome time. We caught up with Curtis Blanchette, who filled us on these three grads’ über successful and enjoyable Startup Week Experience. This is what Curtis had to say…
CB: We all came to SWOkanagan as a student thinking we were going to learn a lot and have fun, maybe have a chance to pitch for a team... We never pictured we would end up on a rockstar student team.
How the idea for the “Intexticated” app came about
Drew (from Okanagan College) kept messaging friends screenshots of what he was thinking to say to a girl. He commented on how it was a pain texting back and forth and that there had to be an easier way. So we were having a beer, as everyone said their pitch. Then Drew thought "What’s another app that we can think of right now, another common problem, outside the box, strange and weird… we already have safe pitch ideas...” Just then he remembered talking about the need for a “bro app”, [an app that would] help us make better choices when texting after a few “beverages”, the rest pretty much splintered out from there and we ended up going with [the concept].
About the experience at Startup Week
The overall experience was completely mind blowing. None of us really knew what to expect going into the week. Then… the ideas just started to flow. The passion of all these talented entrepreneurs and creative minds under one roof was unbelievable.
About our group
How my time at Centre for Arts and Technology prepared me for jumping out into the industry like this
Without the skills and diverse training I received at Centre for Arts and Technology, I would have been lost in this fast paced environment. CATO gave me the necessary skills in many different areas of Graphics and Web. No-matter what issues came up throughout the weekend, we were not only able to overcome them, but really put our heads together to resolve issues and create resolutions.
The most challenging part of the weekend was just how little time we had to accomplish [creating a working app concept and website]. It really drove us to show up early with our computers and just start plugging away, no-time to think, just produce, produce, produce. We all got along so well, so solving problems together locked up in a boardroom was no difficult task.
From Day 2 onwards, we had a pretty strong direction with very minor pivots in our overall business model. So it was just a matter of putting our heads together and getting as much done as possible.
Delivering our “Big Pitch”
We decided to really put on a show for the final pitch on Sunday night. Seeing as we had a working model app, we were able to send SMS's directly to the phones of the judges panel and had them interacting with our app during the final pitch presentation. This made quite an impact.
On realizing we gave the “top pitch”
When we realized we had won we were so excited. All that hard work, little sleep, RED BULL, coffee and beer had really paid off.
What’s next for our project (and where to find it)
We came so far with this project over the course of 3 days, so we plan on re-convening our team and taking it to the next level. Heck, you just might see it in the App store one day ;)
To learn more about Startupweek Okanagan you can visit: http://okanagan.startupweekend.org/. Project Name "Intexticated"
Project Twitter handle @drunksaviour