Winning at Startup Weekend means lots of things. It means learning more than you ever thought you could learn in a weekend. It means meeting more interesting people than you ever thought you’d meet in your lifetime. It means starting something and changing your life.
It also means ranking as the best team as voted on by the judges.
Here is a rundown of what the judges consider. Bear in mind that there is no rubric for judging, and your best bet is to make as much progress in each of these areas as possible. Be careful not to put all of your eggs into one basket: don’t make beautiful mockups without validating your idea and don’t build features before you’ve built your core functionality.
Here’s what the judges are looking for:
Have you validated your idea and core value proposition with your target customer or market?
You came in with a smashing pitch, rallied a great team, and built some cool stuff. But does anyone care? Have you surveyed your Startup Weekend attendees and all of your Facebook friends? Have you interviewed anyone and found anyone who will use your product? If you have, you’ve validated your idea and will win bonus points in the eyes of your judges.
Have you figured out the revenue streams that turn the product into a business?
If the judges were investors, they’d want to know how their investment will turn into cold hard cash. If you can have cash in hand at the end of the weekend from a paying customer, even better.
Does it work?
Focus your efforts over the weekend on building a functional minimum viable product. Once you’ve validated your idea with customers and built the first iteration of your product, it’s time to begin the cycle again by getting real feedback from real customers on the functionality and usability. Judges are looking for a baseline level of core functionality that can be used to get customer feedback for the next iteration.
How does it look?
Don’t go for pretty, go for usability. Design an interface that encourages people to sign up, pay for, and use your product. But don’t spend too much time on the details. Minimum viable product applies to functionality and design. You’re going to test everything and continue to improve the usability later on.
How do you and your team work together?
Remember: startups get funded when investors believe in the capability and perseverance of the founding team. Demonstrate that you’ve done your homework, that you can execute, and that you know what you’re doing.
A few basics on the final presentations for Startup Weekend:
How much time do I have to pitch?
You are allowed to pitch for a maximum of 5 minutes. There is no extra time for showing a demo, if you want to do that, fit it within the 5 minutes of your presentation.
Can I use my own laptop?
You must! Additionally, it’s mandatory that you attend the pitch practice (3PM) to check that your device works properly.
How much time will there be for the judges’ to ask their questions and for you to answer them?
It’s also worth reading this great piece from the winner of Startup Weekend San Jose. Teaser:
1) We were the only team without any working product that presented to the judges.
2) We won first place.
3) Six months after the pitch, our service launched at one of most well known retail hardware store chains in San Francisco and is now used for 100% of their rentals.