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Startup Weekend New Zealand has developed a great following over the past few years since kicking off in 2011.
Everyone who attends Startup Weekend has a unique experience. We thought we would share the stories from a couple of recent participants…

Cameron
Attended November 2013

Cameron attended Startup Weekend without knowing what was about to happen at the program. He wanted to meet people and learn about startups and the entrepreneurial industry.

What really stood out was “The sheer amount of work that needed to be done in order to achieve the pitch deck and present during the final hours. Team management was a must!” His favourite moment was coming with a roadmap on what they were going to try and do as a team. “There was a heap of critical thinking and some interesting ideas were thrown around the table.”

Following Startup Weekend, Cameron has had a great journey being involved in a start up and a lab tech of Lightning Lab learning a lot! He has recently started Founder Finder, currently a FB group with 1000 members. “I am validating the idea that aims to help with team building and sourcing the right skills for startups and small businesses.”

“I am at this moment doing a heap of interviews, validating and prototyping a small version of what this product could become. I am currently looking for technical talent to get onboard and become a founding member. After startup weekend, my journey lead me to this.”

“My key focus since Startup Weekend has been to learn as much as I can, network a boat load and actively involve myself in the industry!”

 

Anna
Attended June 2015, Anchor Up – runners up

anchor-up2Anna attended Startup Weekend after a recommendation from a colleague. Her goal was to try her hand at something different. It began by pitching an idea to the group on Friday which she considered a fun exercise and whilst her role was predominantly a designer, she relished at the opportunity to try other things such as project management.

Working within a team of new people, each with their own opinions and ideas of success was difficult. There were times when no one saw eye to eye or no clear path was defined. But it was also this diversity that lead to one of the most critical moments Anna experienced within the weekend.

A particular challenge arose on Saturday, the core idea was put under pressure and the team were struggling. It was during this crisis that lead to Anna’s favourite moment of the weekend. “We decided to stop, take a walk and reflect.”

“We looked at each other and we all gambatted to work on pivoting our idea. Nine individuals were at a wits end and finally, we came together.”

And it paid off, Anchor Up were the runners up of Startup Weekend June 2015.

“Startup Weekend gave me a more holistic view of business operations. Generally you only work with people of your similar skillset, so it was great to work with people who bought a multitude of skillsets to the table. Startup Weekend allows you to see the breadth of an organisation and see all of the cogs work together.”

 

Thiago
Attended June 2015 

thiago“I saw Startup Weekend as a lab where I would test the applicability of what I’ve learnt in years of Business studies. Creating and putting in place a business, partnering up with people you have never met before and in such a tight schedule. It demands more the academic knowledge.”

One of the big challenges Thiago’s team faced was when they reached the stage of validating their idea. “We learnt that our first “great idea” was not that great as we thought.. so back to the drawing board..” It all came to fruition when the team managed to create a working prototype of the product to demonstrate to mentors and judges.

Thiago’s advice to first-time participants is “Come with a VERY open mind. It sounds cliché, but it’s very easy to forget that the interests of the team come before those of the individual. If you are the only one who think your idea is great, possibly that’s not the moment to implement it yet.”

 

From these three different accounts you can see that no two Startup Weekend experiences are quite the same. What is challenging for one participant is a breeze for another, the highlights and lows are varied. That is what makes it such an incredible experience.

Laura Kerrison