If this is your first Youth Startup Weekend as a mentor, you might be wondering how the structure works and what the role expectations are when you’re here!
Rest easy, dear friends, because here we are with a brief guide on what to expect, tips on being an impactful mentor and an overview of what the weekend entails.
Before we get down to the nitty gritty, I’d like you to envision an adult that had a significant impact on your childhood, an idol or someone who simply inspired you along the road to where you are now. Your role, at its very core, is to channel that person and be that for these students. On top of having an understanding of the startup world and your selected area of expertise, you are a “grown-up” that is showing them that they matter simply by showing up. Showing them you believe in them with your attendance speaks volumes. So… go you!
If you refer to the event schedule, you will have a great overview of what will be going on. So I’ll simply be delving into what to expect during that schedule.
- Students are meeting each other, and participating in a rapid- fire pitch session. They are asked to come with no pre-existing businesses (in fact there are rules in place that they are not allowed to come with something already created). They present a problem they see, a suggested solution and the type of team they need.
- Students vote with sticky notes for the top 10 ideas (number changes based on head count… max team size is 7). Mentors are asked to circulate the room, ask questions and help assist in forming the team. Make sure the teams aren’t forming because they’re all friends, but because they can work together.
- Teams are solidified, and everyone goes home!
This is mostly a heads- down day. We are getting team tshirts donated from Brand X, so the teams are asked to create a company logo before working on anything else so we can send the logos over and get everything printed before their final presentations. Deadline is 11am.
- Mentors meet before the students come in to go over the existing teams.
- When students show up, we do a quick and easy tutorial on how to utilize scrum boards. The purpose of these are not only to keep the students on track and organized, but to let mentors know what they are working on and how they might be able to help
- In the afternoon there is a new round of mentors that comes in, and there is a mentor huddle where mentors can speak to what their team might need and help figure out who else can come in and assist
- **It’s important to note that one of the most helpful things to do while mentoring is try to stick with your team for a good chunk of your time. This helps build trust, and they typically will ask for more guidance when they feel comfortable with you. We don’t place mentors with teams, but feel free to circulate and find the right fit.
- Mentors help with refining the business model and helping them with their pitches
- Some students were finished a bit early, but it was really easy to tell who had spent a good chunk of time practicing and who didn’t. This time around I encourage mentors to help not only with the practicing but to give some practice judge questions!
- Students pitch to the judges, ultimately there is one prize!
How to be an Impactful Mentor
- Don’t tell your team what to do or take control. Yeah, that’s super hard when you know the ‘right’ answer but this is their time to explore different options
- Use intentional question- asking to lead them to conclusions. If they ask you what to do, try leading them to an answer through questions. They should be solving problems and using you as a resource, not getting all of the answer from you
- These students are bright and wildly intelligent and they’re entrepreneurs right now! Talk to them like adults, not 5-year-olds
- That said, don’t be a jerk and crush dreams.
- Look at scrum boards, ask how the teams are doing and listen. “We’re great” is the answer all of us feel naturally inclined to give. Understand that through direct and pointed questions you can get somewhere
- Ask the other mentors in the group how you can help
Hard and fast rule
- You cannot, at any point in time, hang out alone with a student. Not for an interview, podcast, photo op, or 1on1 discussion. There are huge issues with that and we’ll all (including you) be in a WORLD of trouble. They’re wicked smart, but still youth.
- Never ever utter the words “that isn’t possible.” Ever. Never.
- Not even once.
We are SO excited to have you as a mentor, and can’t wait for you to see these future change-makers and feel the amazing sigh of relief that our future is resting in some remarkably compassionate, intelligent hands.
Being a developer is an awesome challenge and being the developer on a startup team allows you to experience all sorts of new challenges as you build your business! We asked Sahil Saini, founder of AKOS about his life as a developer and what encouragement he would give to people just starting out.
There are many roles to play on a startup team! Design plays a key role in the life of a business, and the amazing, talented founder of Attic Salt Rani Sweis talks about his life as a designer and brand specialist.
Earnest Sears Jr., founder of SOS Consulting, shares with us some tips and tricks to building the most effective, most amazing team ever! Bringing together a strong team is part of what makes Youth StartUp Weekend an awesome experience!
Welcome to the first Phoenix Youth Startup Weekend! We wanted to get things started and give you some resources, some fun activities and most of all, get you excited for this awesome event!
Before we start, we want to introduce ourselves: We’re the CO+HOOTS Foundation! We work out of and with a coworking space in Midtown Phoenix called CO+HOOTS. Our mission is to CO+Work, CO+Build and CO+Change the World by engaging the creative power of entrepreneurs, start-ups and small business owners. We believe that harnessing the power of risk takers and dreamers leads to innovation and overall awesomeness!
CO+HOOTS started in 2010 when our founder, Jenny Poon, discovered that developing her graphic design business from home was lonely work. She came together with a handful of other big thinkers and one of the top coworking spaces in the United States was born! Over the last 6 years, CO+HOOTS has done some wonderful things… including starting the CO+HOOTS Foundation in 2004 to connect the members of the coworking space with the community around them!
The CO+HOOTS Foundation has done everything from hosting the largest Code Day in the nation to implementing a pro bono week in the City of Phoenix to starting the most individualized women’s business scaling program around. We find out what our members excel at and connect them with our community!
On August 26th-28th we are once again making an impact for good in our city and bringing Youth Startup Weekend to Phoenix! For more information or to get involved see our event site or contact the Foundation Director, Meg Taylor at 602-688-2825.
Now go be awesome!
Startup Weekend is awesome enough on its own, but we’re making it even more awesome! There are two potential ways to win during this exciting Startup event. First, the organizers and primary sponsors, M2 Group, are actively looking to incubate and grow a communications based startup. Second, the winner of the pitch-off will get help and assistance to keep their startup going, from office infrastructure and business planning assistance.
So, what is a communications app and what kind of incubation might be had? Communications technology just gets human information from one place to another using technology. So, you might be working on a Twilio app or chat or a VoIP system. If we find the right startup, you could get office infrastructure, business support, possible funding, and most importantly a sales team to help you get this to market!
But you’re not building a communications app? No problem! We don’t care if your startup idea is a new skateboard or audio device…just get it started! The winner of the pitch-off event on Sunday will receive virtual office services and business planning assistance for a year! You’ll have a place to continue working as a team and the advice from successful entrepreneurs to help you along the way.
So, think you have the next big idea? Come on out and launch your startup!
The Startup Weekend judging criteria is broken up into three sections. Teams are judged according to the following 3 criteria (weighted equally):
- Business Model
- How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they thought about (either solved or identified problems) competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, their revenue model etc?
- Customer Validation
- Are teams building something that people actually want? How well does the team understand their customer and their customer’s needs. Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?
- Execution & Design
- Have they established a “Minimal Viable Product” for the weekend (software, hardware, etc.)? *Note: an MVP is the minimum set of features to be able to start collecting data. Does it deliver a compelling and captivating user experience? Were they able to demo something functional?
Thank you Ben Hall and BPS Asset Management for sponsoring Startup Weekend Chandler. Ben is both a member of the Gangplank community at-large as well as a past lead organizer for Startup Weekend Chandler.
BPS Asset Management provides solar asset management software that spans the entire solar project lifecycle, from project development, design, and construction to financing, operations, monitoring and maintenance all in one platform.
BPS Asset Management is currently looking for partner solar companies. “As we push forward into our next stage of business development, we see it as a necessity to partner with companies that are in need of asset management software and want to help define the future of the solar industry,” said Ben. “As a software company, we could decide on and develop the features that we think are most important for our product, but the users may not see those as the most important features. So by partnering with multiple companies and using their input and feedback we will be able to continue to develop the best and most useful asset management software.”
Chandler, AZ – Local collaborative workspace, Gangplank, will host Startup Weekend, a high energy event where entrepreneurs are challenged to create a business in a weekend.
Startup Weekends are weekend-long, hands-on experiences where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs are challenged to create a business in a weekend. During that weekend they explore the viability of their business idea. Beginning with open mic pitches on Friday, attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. Over Saturday and Sunday teams focus on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing LEAN Startup Methodologies and building a minimum viable product with the help of business mentors. On Sunday evening teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts.
HiringSolved Sponsoring the Weekend That Started Them
Startup Weekend Chandler’s primary sponsor is Gangplank Chandler-based, HiringSolved, “like Google for talent.” To HiringSolved Founder Shon Burton, “Startup Weekend is pretty special for me personally. I think it’s an amazing event with fantastic “startup energy” that can be immediately be sensed in the air. Also, this is where my startup got it’s start.
“In 2011 I walked into Gangplank. I had moved from San Francisco to Chandler and was having trouble finding ‘my people:’ the geeks, nerds and creativeness that I knew I needed to connect with to survive here in the desert. Mission Accomplished, Gangplank turned into my supernode, connecting me to the community, showing me that “my people” not only existed in the desert but were in fact, thriving.
“After finding Gangplank I learned of a Startup Weekend event happening in the space. I attended the ‘founder dating’ session, where I met my CTO and Co-Founder Trevor Olson. Fast forward to today, our company, HiringSolved has 10 full time and 12 part time employees, and over 20,000 users. We have raised $3.5 Million from some amazing investors. We compete on a global scale, going toe-to-toe with the billion dollar giants that we are disrupting every day.
“Running a startup is both a grand adventure and a supreme challenge. It’s the Olympics of business –A fiercely competitive sport filled with uber-talented competitors. It’s an honor to compete. Win or lose it’s a life changing experience. Startup Weekend is the qualifying round.
“To every person who has an idea and just needs someone to help build it. To everyone who can build things but wishes they could find people to sell, market and support them. To all those people who dream about starting a business. To those who wonder if they’ve got what it takes to compete… to win. This is your chance. Don’t let it pass you by.”
This is Your Chance
Dreamers, makers, and risk takers will be coming together to join this fast-paced weekend challenge on November 20th, 2015. A few will win prestige, and many will win life-changing relationships.
Registration is available at:
Gangplank is a group of connected individuals and small businesses creating an economy of innovation and creativity. We envision a new economic engine comprised of collaboration and community, where industries come together to transform our culture.
Public contact: Chandler@StartupWeekend.org
Contributed by Joe Kullman on Dec 8, 2014 for InnerCircle, Arizona State University Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering
ASU computer science student Taylor Meeks was part of team that won the top award in a recent business startup competition.
Startup Weekend: Phoenix Global Startup Battle, hosted by Seed Spot, a local nonprofit business incubator that aids social entrepreneurs, attracted more than 50 people looking to learn more about how to develop their ideas for tech-based ventures.
Many of the attendees pitched their proposals for startups and 10 were chosen to compete in the startup battle.
Meeks and two others joined software engineer Mark Tucker, one of the successful pitch makers, to work on a venture called FunCast. Its product is a party trivia game called Boast, played with an iPad or other tablet devices, with game information displayed on a TV screen using Chromecast, a digital media player.
Teams had about 55 hours to put together a business model, a tech demo and gather some customer-validation data for their products.
“It surprised me how much we accomplished in just a weekend. We created a business model and a working demo of our game in a very short amount of time,” Meeks said.
A panel of local startup founders selected three winning teams. Meeks’ team placed first and was awarded six months of free office space at Desarrollo, a tech startup incubator center in Tempe. The group will soon begin work on the next phase of development for FunCast, Meeks said.
The businessperson who is Meeks’ sponsor for his senior capstone design project had suggested Meeks participate in Startup Weekend to gain business experience.
He notes that only a handful of other ASU students attended the Startup Weekend in downtown Phoenix.
Another Phoenix Startup Week is planned for early 2015.
Meeks expects to receive his bachelor’s degree in the spring after completing studies in the computer science program in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering.