← Techstars Blog

At Startup Weekend, we refine undeveloped ideas into viable businesses. Startup Weekend combines the best parts of a hackathon, business plan competition and pitch contest. Participants work in teams to explore the resources, activities and relationships necessary to design and build new businesses from scratch.

They test their assumptions, interview real customers, meet with experienced coaches, and pitch as though to investors. By the end of the weekend, some teams will have functional prototypes, some may have even made sales, but all will deliver presentations of their work to a panel of judges.

The Spirit of Startup Weekend

All of the players and positions in the entrepreneurial ecosystem are represented at Startup Weekend: designers, developers, business people, students, professors, investors, and many more. Startup Weekend is designed to be accessible to anyone who wants to explore what it takes to turn an idea into a business.

Generous local sponsors ensure tickets remain inexpensive. Meals, snacks, and supplies are provided all weekend. Every person involved in planning, running, coaching, judging, facilitating… is a volunteer! Startup Weekend thrives on the passion and dedication of community minded locals who believe in entrepreneurship.

Friday Night: Pitch Night

Late Friday afternoon, a fascinating group of people gather to eat, meet and network, get warmed up, and settle in. The facilitator will open with a greeting and a little guidance for the weekend. Then our speakers, Jordan Maahs and keynoter Wade Foster will inspire us with their entrepreneurial experiences. Then the real fun begins…

Anyone with a new, undeveloped idea is invited to present their 60-second pitch to the crowd. After all the pitches are concluded, participants vote to determine which 10 or so business ideas will be developed over the weekend. Those whose ideas were not selected join other teams. Teams of roughly 4-5 people form organically around the winning pitches, and everyone gets right to work!

Saturday: Discovery, Iteration, Coaching, Testing

Throughout Saturday, participants work feverishly to innovate around their business models and explore variations of their value propositions. They go out into the community and interact with potential customers to discover whether their proposed solutions solve real problems — and if they don’t, they figure out what they should be creating instead. They meet with coaches — local experienced entrepreneurs, investors, designers, developers — people who have gone through these processes many times.

Sunday: Practice, Refine, Pitch

On Sunday, teams continue working, refining, meeting with coaches, and clarifying their business models. They develop their revenue models, cost structures, explore partnerships, marketing strategies and analyze the competitive landscape for their businesses.

On Sunday night each team delivers a 5-minute presentation, in the style of an investor pitch before a panel of judges. Then the judges grill them with questions for a few minutes. After all the teams have pitched, the judges withdraw to the deliberation room to discuss and select the winning teams. The prizes awarded to the winning teams at Startup Weekend are designed to encourage them to continue with their businesses post-weekend.

Want to be part of it? Check out a local Startup Weekend near you! 

Michael Norton
(@theredhype)