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Startup Weekend London was one of the most inspiring activities I’ve engaged in a while. Not only did I get to meet talented individuals but also work with them.

My Team

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There was a Spanish HR professional who delegated her two kids to her husband and was the first to remember all of our names. There was a young Englishman who started his own business delivering snacks and nutritious goodies to schools and small organizations. Another talented individual who started his own business when he was 16 and rejected top corporate offers to work for a startup, eventually working his way to head of digital marketing. Then, there was the developer whose work ethic stood second to none and who created the most amazing codes within a couple of days. And finally a biochemist, turned philosopher, turned television producer, turned visual poet, and almost a Steve Jobs lookalike with his own Wikipedia page who was also our team leader.

Learnings

To name a few: disruptive technologies, predictive algorithms, data is not just for nerds, the sheer velocity of change (e.g. when Zuckerberg was receiving accolades as the most innovative person in 2009, Instagram did not even exist). However two important points were my highlights.

Firstly, I learned what startups can teach large companies. I realized how complacency can become a sin. Many established corporates lack the innovation factor and even more so, a platform that encourages creativity. Although big companies can efficiently leverage their resources, formulate objectives to increase their shareholder value (on paper), and standardize their processes, they don’t know how to encourage emerging ideas enough. Large companies will have enough ‘tick boxers’ who make sure you are compliant with redundant company policies, but they won’t have enough executioners who can do new things. Large companies will have executives who can operate, but not enough talent who can create. One of the reasons Apple thrived was because Mr Jobs encouraged new ideas. There is a big opportunity for established companies to create a culture similar to the Startup weekend, not only for the sake of their business model, but to have a healthier work environment.

Secondly, I witnessed first-hand, the importance of agility when you are moving towards your newly formed goals, ideas or projects. Pivot is the key word to look for when starting your team, as there will always be an ‘aha moment’ where you have to rethink almost everything and start from square one. The team has to be agile enough to be flexible and respond to threats via iterative innovation. Our team comprised of the right balance of vision, technical skills, marketers, designers and business people (in other words a good combination of hackers, pirates and hustlers).

If you have an idea that you have always wanted to work on, there are resources available that will help you get there; that’s the beauty of today’s world which has come a long way since the dot com era.

You don’t have to attend a Startup event if you don’t want to; there are other tools such as business canvases, mentors, blogs, networks and analytics. But, if you have the opportunity, I definitely encourage participation as it offers a laid back ambience where you can explore your ever burning ideas.

The collaborative shared office campus that hosted Startup Weekend London had an unlimited supply of beer on tap (but that’s not the only reason why we all look so jolly in the photo above) along with an abundance of other snacks (nutritious of course). More importantly, you will gain the experience of working with people that you might not normally liaise with and develop some solid business acumen (like how to sell your minimal viable product within 60 seconds). And the most ‘innovative’ thing is that you will accomplish all of this within 54 hours!

Happy Startingup 🙂


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