This year, I am co-organising the third edition of Startup Weekend Education in Dublin. For those who still haven’t heard what a Startup Weekend is, it can easily be summarize in six words – build a startup in 54 hours. If you would prefer like a more detailed explanation, I suggest you take a look at this amazing article written by my buddy Katalina!
Now that you know what we are talking about, you might wonder why we decided to focus on education. Indeed, why not just keep the regular Startup Weekend version held every year at Google? Since I cannot talk for others, I will explain why educational technologies (edtech), and therefore a Startup Weekend Education, is so important to me!
As long as I can remember, I have been very eager to learn new things (I am currently looking for taking some flying lesson!). I was always excited to go back to school after long holiday breaks and I never minded having homework. I was, and still am, an extremely curious person.
However, during my last two years of High School, when I specialized in Sciences for my A-level, I started to have some huge difficulties.
I would study Mathematics or Physics for hours with a private tutor to only get an F when I was at my best! During these two years, I started to have the feeling that my teachers or the French Education System failed me. And I just cannot stop thinking of what would have been these high school years if I had access to educational technology tools to help me. It is true that Edtech tools do not only help people with special needs learn at their own pace, they also help students personalize their learning experiences through adaptive learning, or help teachers teach large group of students through blended learning.
Years later, this question – does Edtech could have help me in High School – led me to write a Master’s thesis on French Edtech Startups while I was working on the creation of an app that combines language learning and AI (if you want to check it out: meet Mr Smith). This enquiry also led me to join Learning Tech Labs, where I am organizing monthly events, and then to join the Startup Weekend Education team. It might be easy, even cheesy, to say that I want to be part of the ongoing change in Education but that’s what I truly want! If that’s what you dream of too, join us for a weekend of creativity in September!
Yay! So, it is finally my turn to blog and there is something I have to tell you about me. I really love being surrounded by start-ups! It is not about the informal dress code, the flexible hours, or the ping pong table what catches me. It is something more intangible – the passion they put into everything they do.
For me, it is quite impossible not to get captured by such a strong energy. Ideas are in the air and your floor is constantly moving. This last part is what I like the most, because if there is something I have learned from working with new businesses is that… you never stop learning!
For start-ups there is always room for improvement, there is always a new plan coming up, there is always a gap to fill, and there are always ways to expand your knowledge.
Now, as you know I am also part of the team organizing Startup Weekend, where you can connect, network, form alliances, and learn… If you are like me, you probably do not naturally enjoy all this networking stuff! However, the truth is that if you focus on communicating yourself and your ideas and not on the title of the people that surround you, networking is fun, stimulating and an excellent way to develop and test your thinking and opinions. The more you network the more you will learn!
So, if you are a passionate learner this is the perfect weekend for you. You will surround yourself with like-minded individuals, who maybe in the future will be able to provide you knowledge, resources, markets or technology. There will also be many professionals in their field that will have valuable information and insight to share. If you have questions, ask them! Remember, each question you don’t ask is a missed learning opportunity!
Now go ahead and challenge yourself with 54 hours of learning experience. Commit to expanding your mind. Open your network (by truly expressing your ideas). And show me your passion…
“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible” (Howard Schultz, Executive Chairman of Starbucks).
Another edition of Startup Weekend is around the corner. If you have already attended previous editions of Startup Weekends, you will be familiar with how the event works. If this is a first time for you, please check out the Startup Weekend website for the schedule. The weekend typically spans 54 hours giving everyone a shot at trying to build something that is a reflection of their idea and to communicate effectively the problem they are trying to solve.
Perfection is not the motto. Churning out iterations as fast as possible based on feedback from potential customers is what the event is all about. Every Startup Weekend aims to provide a safe place where it is the norm to make mistakes and fumble a bit. When in doubt, find an organizer or volunteer for help. They are passionate about helping people and took the time to organize the event for you. So feel free to ask them anything. Asking questions is highly encouraged, challenging norms is the normal and coming up with creative/cross solutions is the expectation. No pressure!
Even though digital solutions are usually pitched, other avenues for solving pressing problems are welcomed. Digital solutions have an advantage of being easy to create and dispose of, thus helping with exploring different solutions very fast. It is important to have a good mix of backgrounds in the team you join. Different perspectives help in teasing out various solutions and discovering aspects that would not be usually discovered within teams of very limited perspective about how things work. Startup Weekend events take pride in the fact that it is able to attract a diverse crowd especially in Dublin, which is a melting pot of people from around the world.
Being a software engineer at heart and having the privilege to be in an amazing education focused company – Udemy, I can vouch for the fact that software engineers play a pivotal role in bringing digital solutions to life. For those who find their job monotonous and are looking for something interesting, this is one event that gives you an adrenaline rush for your gray cells. You also get to step out of your comfort zone at work and get a feel of finding solutions to diverse problems that can stretch your limits. It is a great getaway for some introspection about what your skills are and how good you are. Problem solving through design and prototyping is also an effective way to improve your communication skills by distilling only the absolute necessary. As an engineer, do not be afraid to don multiple hats during the event like:
- Sales – try to sell a product through empathy and adding value. You don’t need to be a full fledged sales person to make sales. Keep it simple. Talk to different people about what the pain points are and look for avenues where people really need a solution. Now, perceived problems are dime and dozen. You would need to weed out the areas that have the maximum impact, then try and make a sales pitch.
- Marketing – find great use-cases where the solution would be useful. This could involve some market research which might look daunting at first but I totally recommend going with the flow as it would give you a good idea of what to look for in good data sources when making data driven decisions.
- Design – try to get in touch with your creative side coming up with great designs. This can usually be a bit challenging for developers as they find it hard to create UI designs. I don’t recommend diving head first into the deep end, at least work closely with designers to understand how they approach a problem and brainstorm potential solutions. Be generous in providing different solutions but do not stem the flow of thoughts and ideas that come up.
Having attended multiple such events in the past, I can certainly vouch for the buzz and great friendships that are formed over such events which can & usually leads to interesting future projects together. The nail biting suspense during presentations, Q & A from judges and compliments from the audience make it a worthwhile investment of your time. So don’t be afraid to take the first step. Remember, the effort behind an idea is worth more than just some thoughts in your head. If you did not have the courage or time to pursue an idea before, do not hesitate, come over for Startup Weekend EDU Dublin at Udemy for a fun filled weekend of learning, experimentation, and self-exploration. I look forward to meeting you in person!
This year, I am delighted to be organising Startup Weekend Education in Dublin. An event that focuses on ways to solve problems for the Education sector, usually a digital solution. It’s my first time to be at an event that brings ambitious entrepreneurs, designers and developers together. 54-hours to build a startup? Yes, it’s possible!
I have never participated in an event that requires such a short time to build a startup. However, I have accelerated my own business through the Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers. I will never stop telling people the help I received was phenomenal, especially when you’re a 17 year old (at that time) and haven’t a clue how to start a business!
An Entrepreneur? Yes, that’s you, the risk-taker, the person with the idea. Walt Disney once said “if you can dream it, you can do it…”. Take a step back and think. Everybody has dreams, either it’s being an international singer or the next Elon Musk, but what actually makes a person successful? It’s taking that first step, a startup is all about execution!
I am going to explain a few important things you will learn as a startup, whether it’s at Startup Weekend or accelerating through an incubator. You will learn these concepts as a startup in any business course or support you partner with throughout your startup journey.
- Know Your Market
You have an idea, but it needs to be solving a problem. A problem that is big enough that it is a NEED, not a want. Who are the customers? Go and pitch to everyone you meet or grab a quick coffee with them (if your market is enterprise companies, find the right person in the business and ask for a quick chat over coffee). The more people you talk to, the more insights and feedback you will get for your startup idea. In fact, you may even completely pivot your original idea and discover something bigger that the market needs. A good way of help through research is looking at your competitors. Look at what they are currently doing, how can you do it better? Nothing is perfect, but it’s all about trying until you “get it right”.
You’re an entrepreneur and if you’re going to be shy, you might as well start re-thinking your life. You may be at a networking event or a conference, just speaking to the person beside you is a connection you have made. I can tell you myself, every person that I have met, whether or not they are somewhat related to my business, they have often been of help to me. Either referring them to someone I know or vice versa. Going to meetup events is so important, meeting someone who is a step ahead of you with development on their own startup will help you and can advise you on direction, these people become your mentors, or even a friend. The one powerful thing about business is who you know.
- Pitch, Pitch, Pitch
The Founders Institute once said “nobody is going to steal your stupid idea”. You came up with the idea and yes you were probably not the first one, but you took that step towards execution. Give yourself some praise. The fear of your idea being stolen is true to every entrepreneur, but not everyone is like you. You took the time to go out and speak to your market, your knowledge is an advantage and also the team you have built. All this is time consuming, not everyone would give up their salary paying job to risk in executing an idea that could either succeed or fail.
What are you waiting for? Come and pitch your idea at Startup Weekend this September! , who knows what will happen tomorrow? As Emil Motycka of Motycka Enterprises says “the earlier you start, the more time you have to mess up.”
You’re probably familiar with Startup Weekend Education if you are reading this blog. If not the education version, then you may be aware of the nature of a general Startup Weekend! The event is a mini conference bringing together individuals and organizations to accelerate the growth of new solutions and principals, and to create new connections between educators, designers, developers, entrepreneurs and public in general who may not otherwise meet each other.
This may not seem like a radical or new idea. We have all been to industry conferences that have a long and drawn out schedule and the occasionally interesting lecture or presentation in the midst of a day’s worth of lectures on similar topics. Then the networking is done at the bars and at the hotels where the attendees reside for their time after the conference.
This is not the case with the Startup Weekend Education. The Startup Weekend Education is a real-time problem solving experience. Rather than listening passively to research or findings that may tangentially connect to your own work, participants in the SWEDU choose their teams, which actively compete to create a business plan and model for new educational solutions.
The limited amount of time and the obviously high calibre of competition creates a buzz of energy that no other conference or event can lay claim to. And after the prizes are awarded, even if you have participated on a team that didn’t make the podium, you leave with something concrete. You leave with the real life connections that you can only build by actively working with other professionals. You come away energized. Your personal and professional networks are expanded as well as your mind.
This is all made possible by the team of organizers of whom I feel very privileged to be part. The energy and inventiveness that we employ to put this event together is as much of challenge as the event itself is for its participants. The adrenaline we feel in securing venue and speakers is like the rush of meeting your new team of strange faces for the first time. The pressure of the event for the teams working on the development of their new projects is the same pressure that we the organizers feel as we work to ensure everyone is well equipped to succeed.
And that release of joy and satisfaction that the participants feel after they have completed their proposals, the joy of new friendships and connections, and the feeling of a job well done, only comes over us as we witness the smiling faces of new professional friendships heading to the pub, not to escape the tedium of a conference, but to celebrate its effectiveness. This is why I come back every year. To be a part of an event I believe in, that inspires me, and that I see inspires others also, so that we all can make the future of education one that is driven by dedication and love.
Over the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ireland’s best community leaders to make Startup Weekend Education a success. Ruta Danyte, Amy Keith, Nubi Kay, Daniel Paul and many others ensured that I was challenged and pushed to learn new skills while organising the events with them.
I’m thrilled to introduce the new wave of community leaders – an incredible international team of passionate self-starters. Here’s who’s on board for #SWEDUDUB!
Allen is well known to many of you who are involved in data and coding. He is a full stack developer and community engagement specialist with over eight years of experience in web and mobile. Allen dedicates much of his free time to others – organising technology meetups and workshops in data science. We’ve worked together before and we haven’t had an argument yet, which says a lot for his patience! He is a meticulous mentor, speaker and ideas enthusiast, securing Udemy as the venue for Startup Weekend Education. There’s a ping-pong table…just saying!
A self-confessed multipotentialite (Google it!), Rachel joined Learning Tech Labs earlier this year and immediately made a difference scaling the community. As a startup lover and tech enthusiast, Rachel has worked for several early-stage start-ups while completing her Masters in Communication and Media in Paris. She decided to step out of her comfort zone by working in business development for growth stage software company in Dublin. Rachel brings her marketing expertise to Startup Weekend Education, so keep an eye on our social media content. Follow us at @SWEDUDUB! She told me to say that…
An ardent advocate for? lifelong learning, Katalina is another organiser of Learning Tech Labs, bringing her unique pedagogical approach to the e-learning scene. This will be Katalina’s second Startup Weekend Education, having been influential to last year’s event at DoSpace. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication in Guadalajara, Mexico and recently completed a Master’s in Learning Technologies. Katalina has a passion for technologies used to design and support the learner experience. Not one to aim low, she aims to begin improving education in South America later this year.
Karla is the financial lead for this year’s event. Although new to Startup Weekend Education, Karla brings a wealth of knowledge to the team as the Hub and Community Success Executive at Versari, where she supports innovative scaling solutions to learning technology companies. With a BEcon and MSc International Business, Karla is another passionate lifelong learner (are you noticing a theme?). She has continued to build on her success with personal development courses in the fundamentals of computing and is now an organiser of one of the fastest growing edtech communities in the world, Learning Tech Labs.
Galina is a senior UI/UX developer with over 18 years of experience in e-learning, graphic and web design and development. She specialises in online advertising and is our graphic designer for the event. We first met through Twitter, where she advocates for curriculum change in Irish education. After being inspired by Galina’s desire to make real solutions to the challenges facing educators, we have also planned to organise Ireland’s first DigCit Summit. This summit will aim to unite organizations, educators, industry, parenting experts and students to promote positive digital citizenship!
HuíChí brings endless energy and drive for success to our team. Crucially, having founded her own startup, Reecescribe, HuíChí will also add her entrepreneurial knowledge to participants during the event. Recently appointed as the event producer and relationship manager at UXDX, HuíChí specialises in business development and marketing with diverse exposure to IT and services sector. She has successfully connected Startup Weekend Education with other influential tech and start-up communities in Dublin.
Remember these names! 😉
Having been an organiser in 2015 and 2016, I’ve seen the benefits of being involved in these events. They have been the springboard for my personal development and learning in education and technology. In 2015, I was an unemployed builder and my learning curve was steep. This year, I’m excited to be lead organiser for Startup Weekend Education 2017. As the Innovation Pioneer at Rehab Group and founder of Learning Tech Labs, I hope to give back to a community which has helped me to achieve the potential that I didn’t recognise in myself.
Join us: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/startup-weekend-edu-2017-tickets-34635464607
Follow us: @SWEDUdub
Like everything that comes to an end, it’s time for the final curtain to fall at #SWDub.
No doubt the judges had their jobs cut out for them, but after all was said and done, here are the winners at Startup Weekend Dublin – Summer 2017 edition.
The runner-up is….Reach Comics
… And the winner of the 2017 Summer edition of Startup Weekend Dublin is:
Super T — using 3-D printing to increase drug adherence for kids.
Congratulations to all the teams and participants this weekend. Many thanks to all who made this happen – volunteers, organisers, mentors, judges, sponsors, facilitator, host and guests.
See you soon!
We’re almost half-way through the 54 hour weekend. 35 ideas were pitched on Day 1, 12 got the most votes to proceed into the weekend and 11 teams were formed.
— Dermot Casey (@dermotcasey) June 17, 2017
We’ve seen pivots on the back of the Lean Business Canvas session presented by Dermot Cassey of the NDRC. We’ve also got amazing mentors come in to help the teams think through areas ranging from branding and customer acquisition to product-market fit and user experience.
— Nubi Kay (@NubiKay) June 17, 2017
Validation is now top of mind for all with the teams hitting the streets and the web via polls to run customer interviews. I can’t wait to see these ideas pitched on the main stage tomorrow but for now, here are the idea and teams at the summer 2017 edition for Startup Weekend Dublin — #SWDub.
Reach Comics – a subscription service for indie comics and a focus on fairness for creatives
Jukebox Pro – increasing visibility for indie music artists through in-game streaming
Passion Fruit – a chatbot that matches job seekers to their dream job by quantifying their passion
Host Sitter – building a base of service provider to manage short-term property rentals
Super T – fixing drug adherence among kids using 3-D printing
AdvenTours – personalised travel guide for the adventurous ones
Grewgle – Subscriptions for Hydroponic farming kit
Flightswitch – An easy way to sell and buy last minute flight cancellations
Meeting Master – Fixing meetings to deliver better tracking and productivity.
Codejobs – An IT recruitment platform that does precision matches saving time and money
Barchaser – fixing the user experience at Bars while providing better exposure for brands
That’s it for now. We power on into the second half of the 54-hours. And don’t forget…
— StartupWeekendDublin (@SWDub) June 8, 2017
This autumn will be amazing in Dublin! Once again, Startup Weekend Education will be held at the end of September. This is a fast-paced, high-energy, conference-style event that takes place for 54 hours with the challenging role of generating and learning the best ideas in the field of education.
Startup Weekend Education Dublin is one of the events in the calendar of the Startup Weekend global organisation and every year in over 150 countries, talented entrepreneurs gather together and develop their innovative projects.
The event is an opportunity for young and ambitious people to meet mentors from leading companies. With their help, you will find and build up your own team with which you can develop your product to the last detail. You will have the unique opportunity to meet investors and find answers to all of your questions that are of interest to you about launching a business. Startup Weekend is a great place to create a network of valuable contacts with other programmers, marketers, designers and enthusiasts for future projects.
The digital economy is growing 7 times as fast as the rest of the economy and #edtech is one of the fastest growing sectors. Every education system in the world is in the midst of a technological revolution. Educational technologies combine innovation with teaching, thus making education more accessible and wider today. There is a great demand for educational technologies in primary and post-primary education such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, robotic assistant teaching, sensory toys, switch adapted toys or MOOC. Let’s not forget people with special needs who require Learning Support and Resource, where the focus is on providing additional training.
The challenge is to discover and create a product that benefits learners today. Every entrepreneur who comes to this space must have the passion to help learners of different ages and with different technological experiences.
Knowledge. Creativity. Innovations. Adaptability. Empathy.
You only need a laptop, an idea, a great deal of self-confidence and self-motivation that could make you the next rated and sponsored startup.
If you let your imagination run free, then nothing will be more contagious than your enthusiasm!
Winners never quit; quitters never win.
Like everything that comes to an end, it’s time for the final curtain to fall at #SWDub.
No doubt the judges had their jobs cut out for them, but after all is said and done, here are the winners at Startup Weekend Dublin – Summer 2016 edition.
An honourable mention was given to PacePal
… And the winner of the 2016 Summer edition of Startup Weekend Dublin is:
The winning team gets to walk away with All-Access VIP tickets to UPRISE Startup Festival taking place in Dublin in October 2016.
Congratulations to all the teams and participants this weekend. Many thanks to all who made this happen – volunteers, organizers, mentors, judges, sponsors, facilitator, host and guests.
See you soon!