This is the final in a series of guest posts between now and SWPgh#6 by past participants and supporters here to share their experiences and insights about what it really means to participate in Startup Weekend Pittsburgh.
Andrea Wetherald: “Startup Weekend is an invitation to be your bravest self”
A year and a half ago, my team won Startup Weekend. My company, Share Closet, was brought to life by a group of people who were strangers to me the week before. Before we get too far into this, I should warn you: This is not a blog post about how to win Startup Weekend. That will cost you a mojito! (Just kidding. The trick to winning is extensive market research and having a team made up of the greatest people on Earth.) This is a blog post about doing something you’re afraid of, being vulnerable, finding your tribe, and starting an adventure.
Out of the Comfort Zone
I was terrified of Startup Weekend — I hate public speaking and felt nervous about sharing something I cared so much about, with people I barely knew. What if they don’t like my idea? What if I tell them about the research I’ve done so far and I sound stupid? What if I break out in hives on stage and forget everything I was going to say and pass out in front of everyone?
In improv comedy, there’s a saying: “Follow the Fear.” Although I didn’t know it yet, that’s exactly what I was doing at Startup Weekend. I was pushed out of my comfort zone and into a second family. I couldn’t be more thankful for the friends and mentors I met that weekend, and the wonderful adventure that was launched because of it.
Be Your Bravest Self
I’m not working on Share Closet anymore. (That story will cost you a mojito.) I’m at peace with it: I’m currently working at a job I love, another Pittsburgh startup called LoyalTree, with some pretty wonderful people. And I spend almost every night with a group of lunatics from Steel City Improv Theater. I wouldn’t have been led to either of those things without Startup Weekend. If you’re reading this and thinking “I could never be brave enough to pitch my idea in front of a room full of strangers,” follow your fear! Startup Weekend is an invitation to be your bravest self, and to find a group of people who will support your adventure (and to get barely any sleep, and to probably get a cold).
It’s worth it! You can do it! Find your adventure!
Andrea Wetherald won Startup Weekend #3 with her company Share Closet. She is also an account Manager for local startup LoyalTree and an avid member of Steel City Improv Theater.