SWAKL Warmup Recap: Questions

Following our Lean Canvas conversation at the SWAKL Warm up, we turned to Q&R*s from some SW organisers.

*Q&Rs are Questions and Responses – we don’t always have an answer but we always respond. 

Here’s a recap of the questions and responses from tonight:

What resources can I bring?
You can’t bring other humans – however you can outsource within your community

Bring whatever you need to do your work, but keep in mind possible power and bandwidth limitations if you are bringing multiple devices

Can I use resources for my pitch?
You can but you only have 60 seconds so don’t use slides or resources that slow it down

You can bring an idea you’ve been thinking about, but not one that you’ve worked on before e.g. if you have incorporated the company, created a brand, written code etc it is too late stage for startup weekend 

What is the judging criteria?
You are judged in three parts: business model, validation and execution – design and build

Is the idea protected?
Working with startups people are often scared to share their idea in case it’s stolen. It’s probably not worth stealing on Friday night – your idea becomes good by engaging customers and working on it. However if you do really feel you want to protect the IP bring something similar or work on a different idea.

Execution is what we’re looking for. “You don’t have to pay rent on the castle in your head. But when you start building things you have to figure a lot out”

Venue security, times and equipment
Venue closes at 1am and opens at 8am. You don’t have to stop working then but you have to be out (and we do recommend sleeping!)

You are responsible for your own valuables.

You will be provided a laminate lean canvas, post its, kan ban  boards. Bring along your own devices, whiteboards, pens and water bottles.

What sort of help do the mentors give?
Mentors have a range of backgrounds including lawyers and accountants for specific advice. All mentors have been through a startup, lean canvas or startup weekend so know what questions to ask you to challenge your ideas and guide you. Mentors have different points of view based on their experience.

Remember – Mentors aren’t advisors. It’s not about getting your questions answered and you may get conflicting ideas – it is up to you to pick through all of that to make decisions

How do teams form?
Organically. It is up to you to hustle and find/build a team – sell your idea, sell your skills, find the right talent.

 Team size 4 – 8

If you have any questions or comments about the event please let us know! Email auckland@startupweekend.org or tweet @AKLSW

SWAKL Warmup Recap: The Lean Canvas

We had a wonderful turnout to the #SWAKL warm up tonight – approximately 70 people showed up to meet their fellow participants, get to know mentors and the facilitator and find out what to expect from Startup Weekend.

One of the key topics covered was the Lean Canvas – the business model tool used in Startup Weekend. The following is a quick snippet of the Lean canvas and how to use it…

There are three steps to creating the business model:
1. Document your business idea – quick brain dump into all 9 boxes
2. Identify the riskiest parts of your model
3. Systematically test your model

The Lean Canvas is just step one – it allows you to rapidly move on to steps two and three.


How to fill out?
The lean canvas is numbered to give you an insight into the logical method of filling it out. But this is just a suggestion. Why not try doing things in groups such as 1 (Problem) and 2 (Customer segments) – i.e “This is the problem which affects these people“.

Step 2 – Identify the riskiest parts

Don’t mix uncertainty and risk:
Uncertainty: that more than one possibility exists
Risk: A state of uncertainty where some of the possibilities involve a loss, catastrophe, or other undesirable outcome
– Douglas Hubbard

There are three risk areas:
• Product risk – are we building the right thing?
• Customer risk – how accessible is our path to customers?
• Market risk – are we building a viable business?

Remember Step 3 – this isn’t an exercise you do once and set aside – you should be systematically testing your model and iterating on it throughout the weekend.

For more information on the Lean Canvas from Ash Maurya, creator of the Lean Canvas and author of Running Lean, check out this post: Why Lean Canvas vs Business Model Canvas?

CPP’s Top Tips for Developers at Startup Weekend

CPP’s Top Tips for Developers at Startup Weekend

Developers and programmers are always in high demand at Startup Weekend. Varying backgrounds and skill levels come together to contribute. Whether you’re a front-end or backend developer, or a software programmer, you’ll find teams and ideas that need your skills and knowledge.

Here are eight top tips from Computer Power Plus for making the most out of the weekend:

1. Get it done.
To build a business in a weekend you need to move fast. Rapid prototyping is key to efficient product development. Keep your code clean and follow good processes. But remember the product for what it is, a prototype at this stage, and code accordingly.

You may not leave Startup Weekend having written the most beautifully crafted piece of code this world has ever seen. But (all going to plan) you will have built something that works, in just 54 hours.

2. Try out something new
Have you always wanted to have a go at Node.js? Canvas? Ruby? All bets are off at Startup Weekend. As the developer in the team this is your opportunity to have a play and find a new (hopefully fun) way of doing things that you might not get to do from Monday to Friday. 

3. Whatever you need to do your job – bring it and do it.
If you prefer to work on two screens – take in two screens. If you have a particular attachment to your mouse – bring it in. If Red Bull fuels your development, or you have a favourite playlist, make sure you have everything you need to work productively.

4. Talk to your teammates.
Just as you are there to learn, the people in your team are too. Share your practices and keep your teammates in the loop. Communication is the golden rule for any success. That doesn’t mean you should run a lesson on JavaScript in the middle of Saturday evening pitch practice, but show the team what you’re building and why. Get your designer to sit with you and run through the implementation of their design. There are no silos in a Startup Weekend team. 

5. Back your idea.
You have a deep understanding of technology and what is required to build something, therefore you can approach an idea with a clear vision and understanding.

Don’t hesitate to pitch your idea because you might not know how to validate it, or finance it. You know how to build it and what is achievable over the weekend and that is extremely valuable.

6. Leverage the people around you.
Chances are there may be more than one developer on your team and there will definitely be some amazing programmers in the room. Although Startup Weekend is a competition – competition isn’t the spirit of Startup Weekend. It’s about learning and transforming and creating. If you’re stuck on something go ask for help. Talk to other techies at lunch time, find a mentor, phone a friend – the ability to ask for help is a huge skill. And with all of the talent in the room for one weekend – it would be a shame not to absorb and soak some of it up.

7. Give it all you’ve got.
You only have 54 hours at this event with this team. When the weekend is over it is entirely your choice whether you keep working on the project. And it is perfectly ok to say ‘cool, thanks for the experience guys’ and leave it at Sunday night. This means that you have one weekend to pour your heart into an idea and to achieve something you’ve never done before with no pressure as to what happens on Monday. This is an awesome and unique opportunity because you can work incredibly hard, finish exhausted, and wake up on Monday back in your day-to-day life – leaving as little or as much of the weekend behind you as you want.

8. Break out of the mould
Just because your name tag says developer doesn’t mean you have to be developing 24/7 for 54 hours. If you want to have a go at market validation, do it. Contribute to all team discussions and have a say. For many devs in the workforce, the process is something like:

The business, finance and marketing teams work out what is needed; they brief the design team who create a fully fledged design and spec it out; THEN and only then does the developer get his/her first glimpse of the project.

At Startup Weekend you are in it from the start. You get to have a say on everything – from who your customer is, to what the unique value proposition is, to the UI design. Make the most of this experience. In doing this you will get a more holistic understanding of business and the different people and components that make it up.

Solving a problem in limited time is the most fun and terrifying way to learn and grow. Aim to take at least one thing from your experience over the weekend back into your daily work and life and you will inevitably find the weekend transformative. 

CPP_Logo2014_CMYKComputer Power Plus is a specialist IT training institute with campuses in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. 

We provide a range of popular IT courses, from Certificate to Advanced Diploma level covering IT Support, Software Development, Systems Technology and Network Engineering. Students study at their own pace in our unique self-directed learning environment and are provided with dedicated job placement assistance upon graduation.

For more information view: http://www.computerpowerplus.ac.nz

What to expect at Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend is just around around the corner. Check out a few tips and what to expect out of your weekend.

For many participants, Friday night is your first foray into the world of Startup Weekend. It is a great opportunity to network with other participants and mentors and, importantly, it is the crucial time of choosing ideas and forming teams.

After Friday? You have two days to validating, pivot, test your business model, and build your prototype. In order to get things done you need to iterate and work quickly. A great approach is the feedback loop of build-measure-learn.


There are many processes and approaches to working at Startup Weekend – it is important that your team is cohesive and agree on the approach together. Remember to make the most of the mentors and their guidance – they are there to help you because they’ve all been there done that.

Remember to have fun and work hard! Startup Weekend will be a rollercoaster of good times and challenges but you will come away having experienced something invaluable.


The Designer’s guide to Startup Weekend

What does it mean to come to Startup Weekend as a designer? Honestly – whatever you want it to mean.
The term ‘designer’ covers such a broad spectrum these days that any two designers in the room may have a completely different skill base, toolbox and process. 

This is awesome.

Whether you work in the fields of UX, digital design, print, advertising, illustration – all of the above or none of the above, you will find a place at Startup Weekend. You will work alongside other designers, techies and business people from a diverse range of backgrounds to create and transform together.

Some key areas in which your skills may be put to use include:

  • understanding the problem and finding the best ways to communicate it
  • empathising with possible customers and partners
  • designing a brand and communications
  • creating prototypes
  • packaging the work to make a killer presentation

But by no means is that your task list for Startup Weekend. If you want to develop your skills in market validation – do it. If you want to put your programming to the test, put your hand up for that. The beauty of Startup Weekend is that you and your team can shape the way you work.


Things to bring along:

  • Laptop – set up for your ideal work processes (or a big screen if that’s what floats your boat)
  • Pen and paper
  • Whatever tools and resources you need to do the best work you can – whether that’s a sketchpad, wacom, specific computer programs, your favourite Staedtler black ink pen,
  • Your processes – if you’re production is maximised by putting on your headphones and blasting Daft Punk then do it. But remember to be present when your team needs you.

Things to remember:

  • You’re the designer – back yourself and your skills when it comes to the creative concept
  • Conversely, listen to your team and trust that you all want what is best
  • When it comes to Startup Weekend – “Done is better than perfect” (Sheryl Sandberg). You don’t have time to finesse that heading to pixel perfect – so don’t be too fussy.
  • Your Sunday presentation needs to shine – that slide deck it is an integral part of the pitch, make it awesome and don’t over clutter it.
  • Don’t forget to have fun! Get to know your team, go for a walk outside, watch real-life doodles to destress.

“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.”
Anna – UI/UX designer

This is your chance to shake it up and do things differently. Expand your knowledge base, open yourself up and I guarantee your day-to-day work will improve exponentially.

Why is Startup Weekend important?

Startup Weekend Auckland held our first ever Meetup recently, with an impressive turnout of around 60 – 70 people, all keen to find out what goes on behind the scenes of SWAKL.

With approximately a 50/50 split of those who had and hadn’t ever attended Startup Weekend before, we had an interesting discussion on why Startup Weekend is important and why we all get involved.

This is my take on it….


“You didn’t build that.”

We stand on the shoulders of the scientists, explorers, inventors and innovators who came before us. These people went to great time and effort to discover and build what has become part of our daily lives. Electricity? I had nothing to do with its invention, but I benefit from it every day. 

Too often we have taken that for granted and haven’t appreciated the processes and innovation that bought it to reality. As the world changes and new problems and opportunities arise, it is time to ask ourselves – What is our place to build what’s next? 


So what is our current status?

At present there are many global challenges arising and developing. At present, our society is operating in a way that isn’t preparing for what is coming. Industries don’t always see what’s happening within themselves or what’s soon coming. Likewise, organisations have been quick to accept the highest paid person’s (HIPPO’s) opinion as gospel.


However there also communities trying their best to deal with these problems. People are looking for solutions at personal, community, social, government, economic and ecological levels. What we need is people who understand these issues and opportunities in context. People who can get shit done. People who are willing to put in the work to get those challenges met and not merely stand on the shoulders of those who came before them.

How does Startup Weekend contribute?

It transforms people. It instils a sense of resilience and rising to change. It shows us that we need to challenge and collaborate, integrating ideas into solutions we are looking for. It teaches us that settling for what other people have built and riding on the successes of our predecessors isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Startup Weekend hits a nerve. It ignites people who are sitting around wondering what to do and what their place is. “What I get inspired by on SW is people who are on their journey to become more resilient, to collaborate.” – Rowan, SW Facilitator.


As Alan explained – in a wonderful analogy he must’ve made up because I can’t find it online – some people go out on their feet, while others begin on their knees. (But seriously – all Google gave me was some information on arthritis.)
What this concept means is that there are two responses to a challenge. One is to submit and accept the problem as it is. The other is to use your feet – to dig in your heels and work hard, finding your way and learning how to handle yourself. If you can be the kind of person who uses their feet, the way you function in the world can begin to change.

And to wrap it up:
Why is Startup Weekend important?

“People getting together and talking about solving problems can be pretty revolutionary.”

– Alan Froggatt.

Saturday update…

Saturday evening has come around quickly and teams have been working hard to validate their ideas and turn them into action.

A lot of changes have taken place in the last 12 hours as teams have debated, researched, validated, pivoted and dealt with a rollercoaster of highs and lows. They’ve come a long way from the ideas pitched on Friday night and are pushing towards building a real business with the help of customer feedback.

As we approach the end of the day, here is a list of the teams as they stand…

For couples in mid 20s suffering from chronic indecision when eating out; Tastebudds is the pocket food guide app that matches your current mood to your gastronomic desires. Providing recommendations to food and restaurants for the moment.


Exchange and sell platform, for kids’ toys in your local community.


Connecting event suppliers with people wanting to coordinate weddings. Eventr expedites the process and makes it easier to find services from catering to venue. E


Personality match-making for flatmates and roommates, allowing them to match with others with similar interests.

Facebook – Ruma App
Twitter – @ruma_app


Books in boots
Creating childrens’ books in a digital 3D world that they can read through exploration

Facebook – Books in boots


Fashion Ghost
People helping people to look good.


Lean Education
Fulfilling a need where students are entering the workforce without the skills that employees want. Helping to get those skills.


Marketplace for targeted push marketing of promotions to nearby consumers
Connecting somebody who needs something delivered somewhere with somebody already going that way.




A co-care service for pets.


Life band
A tool to help people feel safe at sea and connect immediately in case of emergency



All of the teams have been through ups and downs, pivots and twists to reach their first pitch practice tonight. Stay tuned to see how these ideas progress in the next 24 hours…

Start up with Microsoft Bizspark

We’re the first to admit it. The BizSpark NZ team are a lucky bunch. We work with choice partners, choice startups, a choice offering, and a very choice startup community. We’ve worked with over 700 ‘Made in NZ’ startups. Being Kiwi born or bred means competing on the global stage is in your blood. If your startup is accepted into BizSpark you could be going global with the help of Microsoft. As well as the free tools, software, and cloud credits, partnering with the BizSpark NZ team means your startup could access Microsoft’s global sales force to help sell your product.

It’s been a few years now since we started working closely with Startup Weekend NZ. Startup Weekend superstars TranscribeMe are testament to this beautiful relationship, but also check out Wipster and Timely for a small insight into other successful local BizSpark startups. Here’s a few other companies working with us.

We’ve seen loads of startups come through to BizSpark after the event, or even go on to join with our accelerator partners, like Lightning Lab. All BizSpark startups enjoy free tools, software and USD $60,000* worth of Microsoft Azure credits, meaning you can put cash back in your pocket while you get your hands on the same cloud technology as 57% of Fortune 500 companies.

You don’t need to be on .NET and we’re all for open source tech. You can be building an Android app using Java, or running a Linux server with a Node backend.

Applications are open now. There’s no equity expected from startups to join BizSpark. If you’re less than 5 years old, earning less than $1million p/annum and are a privately held tech startup – you’re eligible.

Apply here now: aka.ms/joinbizspark

What are you working on? Tell the team about your startup: bizsparknz@microsoft.com



*Email the team for more on our exclusive BizSpark Plus offering available through our Network partner

Getting prepared for SWAKL 2015…

Are you ready for SWAKL 2015?

With just a couple of days until the event, we have put together a few tips, tricks and resources to get you started and increase productivity over the weekend…

Read the following, check out some of the links and get ready for an awesome time!

Pitching your idea:

If you choose to pitch a Startup idea on Friday night you will have just 1 minute to persuade everyone that it is worthwhile. Keep your pitch snappy and engaging, get straight to the point. Remember: you don’t have to have a definite solution or product in mind, that is what the weekend is for.

Pitching your idea isn’t just about those 60 seconds though, use the time before and after to meet people, try it out on a few attendees and gauge their response.

Don’t sweat it! Whether your idea is picked up or not you will still have a team to work on and be a part of an awesome weekend.

Get some ideas on elevator pitches: http://mashable.com/2012/04/12/elevator-pitch-advice-tips/#Z_uDYHBrhZqI


Forming teams

Look for people with:
• Complimentary skills
• Clear and aligned interests
• Energy and enthusiasm

SWAKl isn’t about teaming up with your friends, it is about forming teams around the best ideas to get the job done.

Be open to co-ownership and be prepared to pivot. No man is an island and especially not at Startup Weekend.


Working in a team

This can be tricky, but as a team of strangers, with just 54 hours on the clock, you need to get productive fast.

Here are some tips and tools to help:
Tools-05 Tools-06


Mentors and event details:

Check out the event schedule and the mentors at our event website. Have a read through the mentors’ bios to identify areas they could be of assistance in:



Other resources:

Customer development in 54 hours: https://vimeo.com/37359240

Three tools for Startups: https://vimeo.com/37366932

Check out this blog from earlier in the month:

And the FAQs here: http://www.up.co/communities/new-zealand/auckland/blog/2015/10/25/startup-weekend-faqs


Last but not least, have a quick look through these attendee resources and get ready for the action! http://startupweekend.org/attendees/resources






The Startup Weekend experience…

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…

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!”


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.”


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.

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