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For the first alumni spotlight, we sit down and chat with Abbe Hyde and Jacob Manning. Abbe and Jake have gone from participating to being part of the organising team, and their startup SuchCrowd is powering our ticket pre-sales for 2016!

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How did you first hear about Startup Weekend?

I had attended the first startup weekend in Dunedin back in 2013 … so I guess I was on the mailing list. I love startup weekends and was super keen to go again,

What were you expecting when you stepped into the event on Friday?

I actually wasn’t sure if I was going to participate until I decided about half an hour before. At the time I was desperately trying to finish my Masters and really wanted to use the weekend to make some progress … but the fun of startup weekend drew me in once again,

Did you end up pitching?

I did, I thought of a problem I wanted to solve on the way to the weekend. It was a prominent problem that I had found from years of marking assignments.

What idea did you work on over the weekend?

The idea I pitched was one that I managed to form a team around so I got to work on that. It was marking software to make paperfree marking much faster, easier and more attractive to tutors.

What was the highlight of the weekend?

I snagged 3 developers for my team! I didn’t know we had so many in Dunedin 😉

And what was the hardest point?

The hardest, yet most rewarding part, was learning how to communicate with the 3 devs I had luckily scored. I learned so much but I was probably the worst ever project manager for them to try and build something … languages, frameworks, features … my head was spinning.

So what are you working on now 1 year on?

One of the developers that was in my team, Tin Htoo Aung, was willing to give me a second chance and after the startup weekend 3 of us (including Jacob Manning who was also on my startup weekend team) began working on a different project. Tin Htoo Aung was developing a ticketing system and we wanted to find a novel use for it,

With myself leading validation (talking to customers and learning about the market)  and Jacob organising the business model (how do we make money) we hit upon a problem we thought we could solve in the event planning industry.

So now we are co-founders of SuchCrowd which is a novel crowd engagement tool that allows people organising events, shows, gigs and workshops to test their ideas with the crowd and see if they can sell enough tickets to go ahead and do it.

How has the business progressed since starting?

We applied for Lightning Lab, a business accelerator in Christchurch and were one of the ten teams accepted. This gave us funding and intense mentorship for 3 months. We launched our online platform (www.suchcrowd.co.nz) in September and have run over 25 events through it now, including one in the USA. We’ve learnt a lot from our early customers which are enabling us to improve our offering and onboard more customers.

What’s next for SuchCrowd?

We’ve expanded to a team of 5 and are currently closing a round of funding. We are super excited to enter high growth mode and focus on expansion to new regions and countries.

Any words for people still on the fence about Startup Weekend?

Do it.

And any advice for first time participants?

Use it as a networking opportunity, find out as much as possible about everyone in the room, that way even if your startup weekend idea doesn’t fly long term you may have met your ideal co-founders for the next venture.

Jason Beck