After Startup Weekend Christchurch in May 2016, Anteater have well and truly caught the edible insect bug.
Anteater source edible insects for restaurants and high end food producers. They provide chefs with fresh crunchy critters to help them stand out and attract more diners.
We caught up with Co-Founders Peter Randrup and Rebecca De Prospo (Bex) to talk about their journey through Startup Weekend and beyond.
So what’s been happening with Anteater since Startup Weekend back in May?
Peter: We’ve been busy that’s for sure. We have continued to grow our customer base, been on a bug research mission to South East Asia, and supplied TedX Christchurch with sky prawns (locusts). We took out the Grand Prize at the University of Canterbury’s Entré 85K Challenge, and we have a few bigger projects on the go like supplying insects for Te Papa’s Bug Lab exhibition which just opened on 10 December.
Thinking back to where it all started, what can you tell us about your Startup Weekend experience:
Bex: I bought my ticket from a friend’s Facebook post at the last minute having no experience and not knowing anyone… and now my life is completely unrecognisable. I have nothing but good things to say about Startup Weekend. It completely transformed my life!
Peter: I think it’s a fantastic event. Really cool. It was my second one, and I went there not intending to pitch, but I brought an idea just in case. About 25 people had pitched and nothing had resonated with me so I jumped up and pitched ‘edible bugs’ and got a fantastic response!
It was so much fun over the weekend, we got out in the field, out of our comfort zones, we nailed it.
One weekend goes by pretty fast. What did you learn in that time?
Bex: To every member of our team the learning was more important than the competition. Rather than just throwing up a survey and going through market validation as an exercise we went out and talked to people in restaurants and at farmers markets. This is where the learning happened. On that weekend we even got our first customer..
Peter: I walked in and pitched the idea to Giulio Sturla at Roots Restaurant [Cuisine Magazine’s Restaurant of the Year 2015] and he was all over it. He was so keen. They’re still a great customer.
Bex: Meanwhile I was outside getting shouted at by people on the street.. ‘Why are you trying to survey me? I’m at the Farmers Markets.. Move along!’ hahaha
So during Startup Weekend you met your first customer, any other significant connections?
Peter: Yeah Roots Restaurant… and of course Bex who became my business partner =)
Bex: Yeah, Peter! …contacts in the chef community, Geoff Brash who ended up being our mentor during the Entré competition and will remain a close friend and ally of our business. We also keep bumping into chefs who we cold-called or connected with during Startup Weekend.
What tips do you have for first-timers at Startup Weekend?
Peter: I would say take passion, know where your skills are, and fully embrace it. Get to know your customer inside and out. Talk with them, really try and understand them.
I think Bex and I work well together as we have the same values, but different skillsets. So look for teammates with those attributes.
Bex: I would have liked someone to tell me before I went that if you are going to pitch, you don’t need to have a fully formed business plan in mind, just an idea.
Be really clear on the problem you are trying to solve. Be aware that to solve this problem you may need to solve a different problem for your customer. We want to solve sustainable food, but chefs want easy access to items which can help differentiate their offering.
What’s the next big focus for Anteater?
Bex: Increasing our production capacity and market expansion which will likely involve export as the New Zealand market is only so big.
Between now and March, we are pretty busy at Re:START Christmas market (Dec 15-16, and 22-23), the Great Hagley Beer Festival (Jan 28 2017), Splore Festival near Auckland (Feb 17-19 2017), and Nostalgia Festival (Mar 4 2017).
Wow, busy! I better let you get on with it. Any last words?
Bex: Regarding Startup Weekend, my advice is ‘go’. To anyone who is thinking about going, just go. I’m the perfect example of going to a Startup Weekend and your whole life changing. You don’t need to have an idea or to know other people that are going.
And if you want to know more about us check out Anteater.co.nz
If you want to try any of our products we are in every major centre over the summer, or head to Te Papa while the Bug Lab exhibition is on. Or we can let you know of a restaurant near you that has our edible insects.
Peter: Yeah, get in touch with us if you have any questions, or ideas or anything. Just flick us an email or message.
Thanks Peter and Bex!
If you have any questions about Startup Weekend Christchurch in May 2017 you can find more information and register here. Feel free to join our Facebook group for updates.
The interview and post is by Alex Procter, one of the organisers for Startup Weekend Christchurch 2017.
This is the first ever environment-themed Startup Weekend in Wellington!
Participants pitched over 40 eco-tech and planet-saving ideas at Startup Weekend Wellington Environment 2017.
11 of these ideas made it past the initial vetting round.
How do we whittle down from 40 ideas to 11? Each person that pitched an idea creates an enticing and descriptive poster about their idea. Participants get 5 colourful dots that they then go and place on their favourite ideas. Posters with the most dots have teams form around them and just like that… 11 teams begin the intense weekend long process.
The problem: People do not have access to the energy cost related to their future property.
The solution: An energy efficiency rating for New Zealand homes. It allows home hunters, including renters and home buyers to see the estimated energy running costs of that property through a data driven rating
Quote: From Jessica Venning-Bryan (Judge), “I presume you are all Flick customers!?”
Our team looks like: Data scientists, Economist, Engineer, Web Developer and a Business Analyst.
Highlight: The thought process into developing a business. The way to move. We’ve come across road blocks, through a number of processes we were reasonably effective at overcoming them.
Like this idea? You can contact Sebastian Doelle: firstname.lastname@example.org
The problem: There is a lot of construction and trade waste.
The solution: An app that links builders to D.I.Y consumers to re-use building left overs.
Quote: “We all know builders like pies, our first method of advertising will be on pie packaging, followed by a more ambitious goal of advertising on ‘The Block’.”
Our team looks like: Business magicians, Designer, Developers and Marketing Adviser.
Highlight: “All the people you meet, the networking, the great conversations with people in the public.”
Like this idea? You can contact @SWWLG
The problem: There are many women in the world and most of them are using disposable, one time use sanitary items.
The solution: We are creating a pair of underwear that makes liners redundant.
Quote: “Each year New Zealanders use enough disposable panty-liners to run the length of the length of New Zealand 4 1/2 times!”
Our team looks like: Lingerie Designer, Business Advisor, Designer, IT specialist, Communications Specialist and an Environmental Specialist.
Highlight: We pulled together a videographer, a make up artist and a model to shoot our product – a full team effort.
Like this idea? You can contact: email@example.com
The Teams (in no particular order)
The problem: There is poor solar adoption among consumers. In addition, solar retailers do not have targeted customer knowledge to generate sales.
The solution: To provide a service that generates targeted customer leads based on intelligent data for solar retailers.
Quote: “We can provide a reduction in cost on leads to solar retailers of up to 60%.”
Our team looks like: Business Analysts and Developers
Highlight: Very early on we decided to pivot and look at our problem differently.
Like this idea? You can contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Thing Today
The problem: People feel powerless to save the planet.
The solution: An app that helps you do one small thing to save the planet.
Quote: “That’s well clever. Simple and easy to use. Yes it motivates me to do more!”
Our team looks like: Designers, Developers and Researchers.
Highlight: The teams ability to collaborate and create something we are proud of from nothing, and have fun doing it.
Like this idea? You can contact Philip: email@example.com
The problem: There are too many t-shirts (clothing items) ending up in waste dumps.
The solution: We are going to up-cycle these t-shirts into three items; carry bags, cushions and quilts.
Quote: “Don’t send your t-shirts to die in a landfill…Give them a new life and help the environment too. join T-Shirt Revolution!”
Our team looks like: Business Analyst, Developer, Graphic Designer and a Fabric Goddess.
Highlight: A massive pivot – from mass market, low cost single item to value added customized/bespoke product.
Like this idea? You can contact Zak: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Grower’s Standard
The problem: YoPro’s can’t get into gardening.
The solution: No fuss, micro-garden – with a supporting mobile application.
Quote: “Nothing says grown-up like sprinkling fresh herbs atop your home-made dinner.”
Our team looks like: Developers, Designers, Marketer and one environment guy.
Highlight: We spent a lot of time trying to validate and cycling through different ideas. There was a moment when we found the right market and started working together seamlessly.
Like this idea? You can contact Russell: email@example.com
The problem: We live in a throw away society where people undervalue the things they have and long to consume more.
The solution: We are connecting people with underutilized adventure gear that they are open to lend out to people that want to borrow it. We are getting people to share instead of buying new. We are rewarding the sharers financially. Facilitating the global sharing economy.
Quote: “In 2004, New Zealand produced 400kg of household waste per capita – which means each of you produce the same amount of waste as an Australian!”
Our team looks like: Designers, Developers, Analysts and an Educator
Highlight: “The food was F***in awesome.”
Like this idea? You can contact Eryn Rogers: info@gear/share.co
The problem: There is a problem around growing food, specifically around shortage of space for people who want to grow their own food.
The solution: is a product that uses no soil. enabling you to grow food vertically. That solution is aeroponics.
Quote: “It’s a system that requires no soil to grow plants. It’s a system where the plant gets fed exactly what they need, no more and no less.”
Our team looks like: Product Developer and Consultants
Highlight: “Hearing the development of everyone’s ideas and how they change, particularly around pivoting moments.”
Like this idea? You can contact Nelson Curry: firstname.lastname@example.org
The problem: Not enough people using low carbon transport.
The solution: Using a reward system to motivate people to take more public transport.
Quote: “So Paulie has a PhD in environmental psychology… no pressure!”
Our team looks like: Mechatronics engineer, data scientist, environmental psychologist, environmental policy advisor, sales guy
Highlight: the point where we realised that the idea clicked, people were interested and the business model was validated – aka 3pm Saturday.
Like this idea? You can contact Charlene Leong: email@example.com
The problem: New Zealand’s water citizen water quality data is not all in one place.
The solution: To put water quality data in a central database.
Quote: “Water quality is important for a number of different reasons: cultural, health of people, health of the stream life.”
Our team looks like: developer, data analyst, hydrologist, project manager and Kaitiaki Taiao.
Highlight: “Its amazing how everything came together.”
Like this idea? You can contact Te Kawa: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ministry for the Environment (MfE) is our premier sponsor for New Zealand’s first Startup Weekend Environment.
Inspiration for your Startup Weekend ideas
We’ve asked some of the MfE staff what kind of issues they would like startups to solve. Some awesome thought-starters here:
Interested in some mighty datasets?
Jackie Le Roux, from their Environmental Science and Systems Monitoring team has pulled together a list of environment-related datasets that you might be able to utilise for your idea (or use to generate your idea!).
- https://data.mfe.govt.nz/table/3507-maximum-latitudinal-extent-of-selected-key-non-indigenous-species/data/ (& other non-indigenous marine species data sets)
Atmosphere & Climate
- Climate oscillations: https://data.mfe.govt.nz/table/2592-southern-annular-mode-18872014/data/
And if you want spatial data, you can find it here:
And if you want to know more, there’ll be folk from Ministry for the Environment around over the weekend.
The Ministry for the Environment are one of our incredible sponsors for Startup Weekend Environment. They’re excited to hear your brilliant eco-startup ideas and to support initiatives who are working to improve the world around us.
A short message by Laurie Edwards from Ministry for the Environment:
Get your eco-thinking caps on and come inspire us on the 25th of November!
Tickets here: http://bit.ly/swwlg-environment
‘The irony of conservation in New Zealand is that it is about killing things.’ This is one of the sad truths we heard from Phil Bilbrough of Forest & Bird when we asked him for some enviro-spiration in the lead up to Startup Weekend Environment. We asked him to describe some of the challenges facing New Zealand’s natural environment today.
As you read, ask yourself: What could you create in a weekend that could contribute to solving one of these problems?
“From a conservation perspective, New Zealand’s natural environment on land, and in fresh and salt water is under pressure…
- Our wildlife and wild places suffer badly from introduced predators that predate birds, chicks, eggs, skinks, lizards, tuatara eggs, weta and glow worms. Hedgehogs, stoats, weasels, rats, mice and cats are some of the better known culprits.
- How can we clear native forests of small furry four-legged creatures so that birds, lizards, insects and bats can live safely in a healthy ecosystem?
- Forests are collapsing as possums strip and kill our trees. Healthy forests mitigate the impact of climate change, as they produce oxygen and act as carbon sinks.
- How can we prevent forest collapse caused by possums?
- People destroy mangrove trees to clear waterways for swimming, boating and recreation. Mangroves filter and clean harbours, secure shorelines and shelter fish nurseries.
- How can we encourage mangrove retention?
- Fresh water becomes contaminated. One study found 96% of lowland rivers contained too many pathogens to be safe for swimming.
- Contaminants come from algal blooms, which grow in response to the nitrates and phosphorous leaching from diary farms.
- Algae can produce toxins, and clog streams and rivers.
- Cow sewage and effluent also contribute.
- How can we keep our waterways clean?
- The freshwater habitat of the 4 or 5 species that make up whitebait is being degraded or ruined. There is a significant risk that whitebait stocks might collapse, and Forest & Bird is calling for a ban.
- How can we save whitebait stocks and keep them a part of the kiwi way of life?
- River banks are used by quad bikers and 4-wheel drive clubs. Yet river banks, particularly for braided rivers, are the nesting sites of birds. Some have become endangered.
- How can we protect nesting sites?
Our natural environment is degrading, and you will see the change in your lifetime. And I haven’t even begun on our oceans.
But what can I do
What can you do?
Help to reduce pests and emissions, plant natives in a band 20m either side of a river, plant native plants, retain mangroves trees. Increase public engagement with the issues, and support advocacy groups and NGOs like Forest & Bird.
- How can we encourage New Zealanders to make a greater effort to understand, look after and work for our environment?
We take the natural environment for granted. It provides us with the clean air, fresh water and nutrition we need to survive.
Shifting our attitudes from ‘managing’ to ‘nurturing’ our environment is the essential first step in the right direction.”
Phil Billbrough is Manager Marketing & Communications at Forest & Bird, a conservation organisation protecting and restoring our wildlife and wild places. www.forestandbird.org.nz
This blog post is part of a series we are publishing in the lead up to Startup Weekend Environment to showcase the perspectives and concerns of those involved in the environmental ecosystem in New Zealand.
Find out more about our event at http://bit.ly/swwlg-environment
What do 8 teams, 12 mentors, 1 winner, 2 new startups and 59 litres of coffee have in common? Stumped? Well, it’s all to do with Startup Weekend Taranaki!
If you haven’t heard of Startup Weekends yet, they are 54-hour events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups!
It’s a fantastic global initiative that’s run nationally throughout New Zealand and the next one will be held at Manifold Coworking and Events Space in New Plymouth from 14 to 16 October 2016.
At MYOB, we’re really proud to be part of Startup Weekend Taranaki. Last year 45 eager participants took part, where they pitched their ideas for a startup product or business. 8 teams were then formed around the top ideas and they went through a rigorous 3-day frenzy of business model creation, coding, design and market validation, supported by business and startup mentors. The weekend culminated with presentations by each team in front of a judging panel of local entrepreneur leaders who provided critical feedback and picked a winning startup.
The talented team Shout Beer, won last year – think flower delivery but with beers. Owe a mate a favour, or want to thank them for a good deed? Then here’s your perfect answer – Shout Beer!
So, starting this Friday evening, approximately 50 participants get to take part in this full on 3-day experience and we’re so excited to listen, support and help the teams hone their ideas to what hopefully will become a market winning product or service!
Haven’t signed up and fancy coming along? Book your place
Whether you’re starting out in business or leading a company with over 100 employees, there is one thing we all have in common – we don’t know everything! Steve Jobs, Sir Richard Branson and Larry Page all admit to having had guidance from mentors throughout their career. No matter who you are or what you’ve achieved in life, a good mentor is crucial to business and personal success.
The first step to finding a great mentor is to realise you need one in the first place! We are extremely lucky in Taranaki to be surrounded by experienced leaders who are willing to dedicate time to encouraging other business professionals in the region. Our business and creative community is stronger than ever and the opportunities are endless. So once you understand the importance of a mentor, the rest is pretty straight forward – start looking!
Startup Weekend Taranaki is the latest offering in mentorship programmes, and one that Staples Rodway is very proud to invest in. The event founders believe that, “Empowering others is the best way to identify leaders, build communities, and inspire change.” This is hugely important if we are to build successful businesses in Taranaki that bring growth and wealth to the region.
Startup Weekend isn’t just about having a unique idea that sells. Yes, each team forms around an idea and spends 54 hours working on this idea but the event itself offers more than that. During the event, participants are surrounded by dozens of other like-minded individuals. Whether it’s other coders, designers or entrepreneurial spirits – being immersed in this environment can only provide inspiration to those involved. The mentors then form the next layer of substance. Having the guidance of experienced business people gives the idea legs to form into a real business that can make money.
Last year alone, 2 ideas have turned into startups as a result of the Taranaki Startup Weekend. But if this event isn’t for you, there are still other ways of reaping the benefits of mentorship. Venture Taranaki offers a Business Mentoring Programme where they match people in small businesses with experienced mentors to offer advice, knowledge and a different perspective. Because they have such a wide range of mentors, you can choose to work with people who specialise in different aspects of business – and once you are more comfortable in one area, you can work with a different mentor on another area of your business.
Mentors offer industry-specific advice based on their years of trying and failing. They can be a sounding board for ideas or a devil’s advocate and they don’t have to cost the earth either! Many start-ups work on a tight budget in the early years so utilising these easily-accessible options could be the start of a very successful partnership for you.
Below are some helpful tips for creating and maintaining successful mentoring relationships:
- Quality over quantity. It’s not about finding as many people to help you are possible, but finding the best. These are often the most successful people in their industry. Senior level professionals have had the most experience in their business career, good and bad, so consider this when choosing a mentor – learn from people’s successes, but more importantly their mistakes.
- Find a Mentor that shares the same business values. It’s the same for any business relationship, the person must believe in you to be able to help you succeed. They also must be willing to spend time with you no matter how busy their lives may be. Mutual respect goes a long way.
- Respect your mentor. You may not like what they tell you sometimes but they are successful for a reason. Also be respectful of their time and take notes so that you don’t forget what they say.
- Find a mentor now! Even if you are only just developing the business idea, find a Mentor. The sooner the better when it comes to seeking trusted advisors.
It’s a commonly accepted opinion that creating a business is hard work. Of course, there’s your product or service to perfect and your funding to sort out but some of the logistics are much easier than people realise. It’s often when something is overlooked that it all feels a bit too hard. Staples Rodway IT Director, Rob McEwan has been involved in helping businesses succeed for over 30 years now and if he had to narrow down some advice for areas people overlook in the early stages of business, these tips would be on there.
- Incorporate strategic planning sessions from the start, even better if you do this with an external advisor. Building these habits and relationships early give you a great base to develop from as your business grows. Clear strategic direction engenders greater clarity of direction, unity of decision-making, and provides greater traction to actions taken. Vital issues are considered early, often resulting in savings of time and money.
- You may not have a CIO or CTO on board when you start. This is no excuse to defer all IT strategy until you have the skills in your team. It’s important to get IT advice near the beginning because it’ll be easier to set you up for growth then, compared to trying to retroactively tidy up down the track.
- Find a good accounting system and use it! A system won’t help you if you aren’t inputting the correct information. From day one, ensure that you know how you will track your income and expenses and make sure you keep it up to date. Most cloud accounting systems automate a lot of these tasks for you so speak with your accountant to review which would work best for your business.
- Consider your marketing plan early on. Knowing how you will be promoting your business lets you design systems, processes and collateral that support your intended channels. This saves wasted efforts that don’t actually fit with the marketing plan.
- Ensure that you are complying with any legislation and requirements that are specific to your industry. You don’t want to go too far and realise there’s quite a big regulatory hurdle standing in your way. Find out about it first so you can plan with it in mind.
And a bonus tip – learn everything that you can! Take advantage of the sessions offered by Staples Rodway (there’s even free ones!) to learn the Basics of Financial Management and the Basics of Business Planning. When you’re running the show, it doesn’t hurt to know a little bit about a lot of things – you can leave the work to the experts but understanding these aspects of your business will empower you to feel more in control.
Imagine this scenario. You have nowhere to sleep tonight, you don’t know anyone who shares your interests, the people around you don’t know how to cooperate, you have no outlet for creative expression and to make matters even worse, you don’t even know where your phone is. The situation is so difficult for you that you can’t even keep track of your own emotions.
You begin to work your way up through your problems based (roughly) on the Hierarchy of Needs. Your most pressing need is to have somewhere to sleep tonight, but how can you achieve this when you don’t even know where your phone is? Fortunately, you don’t even need a phone to be able to…
When a shelter receives a request from a person in need of a bed, currently if all their beds are taken the only way for them to find an alternative place for the person to sleep is to ring around other known shelters and hope for the best. Seek Shelter has the solution of a central database of available beds so that when a shelter is forced to turn someone away, it will be easier for them to find them a bed at a nearby location. Crucially, good samaritans would be able to register their own sleeping locations, allowing shelters to direct people to quarters that they would not otherwise have known about.
Having found a place to sleep for the night, you begin to worry about the next tool in your kit of survival – the ubiquitous but powerful Mobile Phone. You turn to the person who has just helped find your shelter and you exclaim…
Dude! Where’s My Phone?
While there are a number of alternatives currently available for this problem, this one has a price advantage and is voice activated, rather than relying on another device – even if you have a spare device on hand and it happens to be charged and have good reception, it can tell you that your phone is near the couch but not that it’s under the third cushion. It works by responding to a unique password of your choosing, such as ‘blue cat’, and making a noise to alert you to its whereabouts.
Having located your phone and thus resolved your most pressing of needs, you don’t feel entirely secure yet – the family you have formed around you so far have learned through their experiences with gaming to use strategy and communication as competitive rather than cooperative tools, and have trouble working together to ascend beyond this level of the pyramid. Using your recently found mobile phone, you place an order for…
Nobody Left Behind
Board games are great for bringing families together, but with only a few exceptions, they focus on competing against each other to win the game individually rather than cooperating with each other to win the game collectively. Nobody Left Behind is a game set on an island where the players must escape from an erupting volcano, working together to solve problems and overcome obstacles. The concept of a family friendly cooperative game has shown to be in demand with parents who want to lure children away from their consoles and teach them cooperative social skills, and can be expanded into digital games and other scenarios such as a Space Adventure.
You’re beginning to feel more secure about your continued survival. It’s about now that you begin to be yearn for the company of people who share similar interests to you. You take out your mobile phone again and begin to search for people…
A Bit Like Me
Have you ever been to a large meetup and left without speaking to a single person? Events such as meetups can be useful for bringing people together over a common interest, but it’s possible to feel even more alone when you’re surrounded by people and don’t know how to connect to any of them. A Bit Like Me solves this problem by connecting you to specific people in your location who have specific interests that can be tailored and filtered to your liking. Wouldn’t it be a great ice breaker to know that the person sitting next to you is also a big fan of Magnum P.I.?
Now that you have Friends, your life is beginning to look a bit more like a sitcom ideal. But are you able to see how improved your mental status is now compared with how you were feeling earlier in the day? You may not even be aware that you have…
One quarter of people suffer from some form of depression, and a useful tool for combating it is through self-awareness and being able to reflect on your emotional status. Not everyone keeps a diary or remembers to fill them in every day, so Resilience is there to remind you to pay attention to yourself every day and take some time to attend to your emotional health. By comparing your current frame of mind with how you were on previous days, you can see trends in your personal wellbeing and get a holistic view of yourself – and if needs be, the service might be able to provide additional support.
Looking at your life from the outside, you seem to have your life pretty sorted at this point in terms of physical and emotional balance. But you want to take the next step from having a merely comfortable life to having a fully satisfying life. So to achieve your creative goals you could always…
Producers and hip-hop vocalists have a hard time matching together – either the producer will be put out by flaky vocalists, or the vocalist has difficulty getting noticed. This app matches the two together by having vocalists perform to tracks they choose from producers, then uploading and sharing them for the producers to listen to. A system of ratings and feedback lets the producers know which vocalists are reliable and if they truly are a crowd-pleaser. If they don’t want to pay for the full service, vocalists can save their performances for their own reference.
By the end of Startup Weekend Kapiti 2016, our six teams had managed to build up an entire pyramid covering all of the requirements of humanity from basic human needs to self-fulfilment. Here is that pyramid in all its glory:
If you’re interested in learning more about these ideas or want to get in touch with one of the teams, feel free to contact email@example.com. Or if you’re inspired and want to participate in the event next year, make a note in your calendar for July next year!
Guest post by José Mathias
Last week, I tried to explain Startup Weekend to my grandmother. She’s nearing her 80th birthday and still thinks of business as “that company with 950 employees that your grandfather was a manager at, oh José, why can’t you get a real job like him?!”
When I told her that on one Friday afternoon, 100 strangers had walked into a room in downtown Wellington, and on the following Sunday night, 15 businesses had walked out, she thought I was talking about a game. A simulation. Not real life.
“Startup Weekend is no game,” I said.
At the last Weekend I was at, one of those 15 teams walked out carrying $29,000 worth of annual recurring revenue (ARR) in their pockets. In just 54 hours, they had met each other, formed a team around an idea, validated it in the marketplace, built a product, and begun taking sales from customers. They had cried. Laughed. Worked. Tried to sleep. It was all very real.
I told her how some teams almost broke apart, how it’s so interesting to see that different people have different ideas for the direction of the startup, and the result is usually an amalgamation of everyone’s input. The tension is palpable and mentor feedback is brutally honest. If you’re attending, take out an insurance policy on your ego now because it’s probably going to be injured. It’s a very intense experience, mitigated only by freshly roasted coffee and a common purpose.
“Why do people pay to go to this then?” she retorted.
I had to pause.
“In some ways, Startup Weekend is a game,” I admitted.
If it’s a game, you’re surrounded by the best players. They’re talented and driven individuals who want to solve the problems you see and want to create sustainable sources of income while doing so. They’re usually developers, designers, marketers, lawyers and people of many other professional backgrounds who are there because they’re not satisfied with the 9 to 5. You have continuous access to coaches (mentors) who are well-versed in the lean startup methodology, have built successful businesses themselves, and can offer you advice that people usually pay five figures for in an MBA. You have three delicious meals a day, a constant flow of coffee, and WiFi that can handle 300 devices simultaneously downloading Game of Thrones Seasons 1-6. It’s an ideal environment designed to be a petri dish for profitable business.
The result is beautiful. At the last Weekend, one team had spoken to Rod Drury and lined up a meeting to pitch their product to Xero that week. Another had found a way to integrate refugees into our communities using meals as common ground. Another ended their pitch on Sunday night by announcing that they were fielding acquisition offers. This is all in a Weekend’s work.
There’s a Startup Weekend coming up in Kapiti in late July, and if you’re interested in attending, I need you to do two things. Firstly, start seeing the world differently. In your life there will be problems that businesses can solve. WRITE THESE DOWN! Bring your problems with you to Startup Weekend – it’s what the event is for. Secondly, please buy a ticket as soon as you can. This tells us how many of you are interested in the event and allows us to plan as best as possible for accommodating you! If you can’t attend but know someone who might be able to, let them know about it. You could change their life.
You don’t need experience or skills. You just need to want to make a difference.
As for my grandmother, she still doesn’t quite get it. Unbeknownst to her, startups much like the ones that come out of Startup Weekend have remarkably changed the world for the better during the course of her lifetime. She only sees the result, not the process. Maybe I should have explained it to her like that.