Thursday, March 28, 2013

Startup Weekend Okanagan - Chef Shuffle

Huge congratulations to Maizal, our Web Applications Developer, who recently won “Biggest Social Impact” with his team at the Startup Weekend Finale in Kelowna, BC! Rumour has it Maizal and his team will be sporting new shirts that say, “Empowerific Social Awareness”. 

Maizal recently participated in Startup Weekend Okanagan. Startup Weekend Okanagan is part of the non-profit global network, Startup Weekend, that consists of entrepreneurs, leaders and individuals meeting together to develop, promote and pitch new business ideas or products.  In approximately 54 hours, programmers, developers, marketers, managers, etc. meet together in teams and work to develop a business startup idea.

The concept that won, “Biggest Social Impact”, of the weekend was Maizal and his team’s business idea, Chef Shuffle.  According to Chef Shuffle’s Facebook page,  their concept and vision is “…to build a community that shares fresh, home-cooked meals with each other. Food is love, and we love food!”.  

I asked Maizal a few questions to give us an insider’s perspective! Can you give me a bit of a background on the Startup Weekend?

Maizal: The Okanagan Startup Weekend started here in Kelowna last year and basically it brings together people who are interested in learning about creating startups who may only be specialized in a few areas of a business i.e. management, finance, marketing, design or development. It’s a great opportunity to meet passionate people with expertise in different business areas where the strengths of each member is used in the creation of a startup. I heard about last year’s event very late to be a participant, but I was very intrigued by it and I did attend the final presentations to see which start-ups were built over the weekend. The atmosphere and energy around the teams was amazing and the things they had built over a weekend was incredible. To think that they had spent the previous 54 hours working and still had the enthusiasm to present to local entrepreneurs and investors. What made you decide to participate in this event? 

Maizal: I wanted to be a part of the energy created in a startup and I wanted to make a contribution. I was curious about what was involved in the process of building a startup and I wanted to meet like-minded individuals who had the conviction and drive to make things happen. And I wanted to learn and experience it firsthand. Can you give us a brief description of Chef Shuffle? 

Maizal: Chef Shuffle is a framework that enables the sharing of meals with friends in exchange for credits which can then be used on other days for a fresh home-cooked meal when you are too busy with life to prepare a meal. I have kids and my wife and I are busy most nights of the week with activities; we do cook but love the idea of taking a few days off by simply making extra portions on the days we do cook and sharing those portions with our friends. The Chef Shuffle platform will facilitate the meal planning, sharing of meals with friends, credit exchange and the gathering of feedback on the meals. We as a team plan to build community through the sharing of meals and the cultural aspects that come along with that. You can see one of the reasons why we won the social impact award. Do you or any of your team members plan to pursue this idea?

Maizal: A few of the members have expressed interest and are keen on keeping the energy from the weekend going. We are currently gathering feedback and validating the idea. We are also testing a concierge MVP (minimum viable product) with friends and family using shared Google calendars and business cards for credits and a private Facebook group for feedback. A few chef shuffles have happened already and we have had positive feedback. We have been continuously integrating comments and observations into the system even going back to when the startup was just an idea. The Okanagan Startup weekend teams are meeting again on April 4th for a re-group session where we will have a debrief and I imagine we will find out more about how we would want to proceed. What was the most rewarding part of the weekend?

Maizal: I think the most rewarding part was meeting new people from within the community who were willing to be helpful and willing to share their knowledge. And having the privilege of working on a team with special individuals who were passionate about what they did. We even got to meet local mentors from the community who took the time out of their weekends to coach us and guide us through the weekend. Anything else you want to add?

Maizal: Just wanted to thank the organizers, mentors, coaches, participants, sponsors, volunteers, judges and anyone else involved for putting on such a great weekend. It was a blast and the journey was amazing. I would encourage everyone to participate at some level.

Thanks Maizal and huge congratulations!

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