‘Maker Moms’ take top prize at Toronto Startup Weekend

A shot of teams in action planning out their business ideas during Toronto Startup Weekend. Image courtesy of Holly Knowlman, lead organizer, Toronto Startup Weekend

TORONTO – A group of self-titled ‘Maker Moms’ took home the top prize at Toronto Startup Weekend for a business idea that aims to be the next big playground craze for kids.

Griflens, led by mother and past winner Alison Gibbins, uses 3D-printed story beads to allow kids to tell an interactive story that changes depending on which beads you have in your collection, both on and offline.

Startup Weekend requires participants to pitch an idea to fellow participants and a panel of judges in just 60 seconds, by explaining who they are, what their idea is and what they need to make it a functioning business.

“The quality of teams presenting was incredibly high,” said lead organizer Holly Knowlman.

“Seeing such a wide range of hardware-focused products that have real market potential was great. The drop in material costs means that hardware startups are becoming increasingly more viable, which we thought made this the perfect time to experiment with a maker edition of Startup Weekend. The ideas we saw totally backed up that assumption.”

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Participants later team up with whomever they think has the best idea to form teams – the 20 teams with the most votes then have until Sunday night to try to execute the idea and build as much of their product as they can.

READ MORE: Toronto Startup Weekend kicks off, attracting tech funding hopefuls

This year’s theme was “Makers,” which means a fleet of 3D printers, laser cutters and rapid prototyping tools were thrown into the mix for teams to use.

Gibbin’s team walked away from the competition with a Makerbot Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer, as well as iPad Airs for the team members and a range of services and tools to help them launch their business.

Griflens has already started taking pre-oders for the game on its website.

Pawly, a startup based on a robotic chew toy that helps pet owners interact with their pets while they are away through video and voice connectivity, won second place at Startup Weekend.

Both startups will go on to compete at the Global Startup Battle Champions Circle, against teams from around the world.

Check out social reaction from the weekend below:


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