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The following is an article was originally published here: Startup Weekend Europe.

A few weeks ago, I facilitated the first Startup Weekend in Bolzano, South Tyrol. For those who never heard about this little piece of paradise, it’s located in the North of Italy in the mountains and used to belong to Austria 100 years ago. That’s also why the majority of the inhabitants of Bolzano (in German: Bozen) still speak German as their first language. To integrate everyone, the event was held in English.

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With around 45 participants, it was one of the smaller events but a lot of fun nevertheless. The atmosphere was amazing, attendees were very motivated and the organizers Hannes, Corrado and Paolo well prepared to host the first Startup Weekend in Bolzano.

Friday night, we had a great keynote by Pekka Abrahamsson, lean startup addict and professor at the Free University of Bolzano who also sponsored the venue for the event. He spoke about the challenges you face with a startup and that a pivot is not a shame. After the warm-up, 17 ideas were pitched, voted on and teams were formed. After all, eight teams emerged from this process:

  • KidBoard: Educational software-based tools for teachers and students
  • SpeakersRank: App to directly evaluate speakers at conferences and other events
  • Tellm3: Market research app for businesses to get customer feedback on the spot
  • Wingman: Find the right people with the matching competences for your startup
  • Shax!: Social platform to watch films together with your friends around the world
  • JoinEat: Peer2peer platform for home-cooked meals
  • SpeakMap: App to communicate with others in foreign countries and languages you don’t speak (yet)
  • WizArt: Platform for curated art work for artists, galleries and customers

Teams directly began to work on Friday night and then got valuable input from mentors during Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, there was another great keynote by Alessandro Colombi, professor of pedagogy and entrepreneur himself, whose advice for the audience was to “Stay humble and do good things for others.”

Sunday night’s pitches were much anticipated after an afternoon of turbo-work and test pitches. Everyone did a great job and judges had a few discussions about who would go home with the first, second and third prize. But before announcing the winners, I shared three personal learnings from my past years in the startup business:

  • What is your biggest pain point? Taking the risk to start your own business or having to work for someone else and not being your own boss? – If it’s the latter one, then you’re clearly born to be an entrepreneur.
  • Choose well your partners, in private and business life. They need to support and motivate you as much as possible and not standing in your way.
  • Do it. Step by step. – Starting your own business is scary. If you go forward step by step then you have a good chance to overcome your fear and to be successful.

Finally, the prizes were announced: WizArt won the first place, JoinEat the second and Shax! went third. Congratulations to all three winning teams and heads up to all the others! You were awesome!

Most of all, I’d like to thank the organizers of this event for their great job: Hannes Pardeller, Corrado Roccazella and Paolo Lombardi! I hope that more Startup Weekends will follow in Bolzano.

More photos of this event can be found on Facebook.


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Kathleen Fritzsche