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We recently held Global Startup Weekend (GSW) to connect entrepreneurs, organizing teams, and startup communities around the world from November 11th – 20th. During the weekend, attendees received access to exclusive resources to help prep for success at Startup Weekend and make connections to mentors and other startup teams. After GSW, we asked founders from the local winning teams to tell us about their experiences. We recently talked with Stefanie Karp, participant of Startup Weekend in Washington, D.C. where her team won first place. Read below to get a behind-the-scenes look into the weekend and their journey to winning.

What is the name of the company you formed at Startup Weekend D.C.?

“Unbound Art” is the name of our company. We came up with the name on Saturday around midnight in a flurry of text messages among our team. We had spent the afternoon brainstorming some pretty awful ideas.

What did you expect going into the weekend?  

Mainly, I wanted to learn about the lean startup methodology after it had come up in conversations with two different potential employers. I come from a background of traditional strategic planning with 5-year plans, so this is a radical departure, going out and testing a “half-baked” idea with consumers right off the bat.

I did have a business idea that I had been developing with a friend for 6 months, but until the GSW, that idea only existed in our evening talks while power-walking the streets of our neighborhood.

So your idea is pitched and chosen – what was it like forming a team?

My idea was the last one chosen, I think number eleven out of approximately forty ideas. The recruiting was really tough, as the first few people who interviewed me about my idea decided to pass on working with me.

I started feeling really insecure, thinking I wouldn’t find a team. Luckily, Alyson, a developer, put her name on my sheet immediately when voting began, and then mysteriously left (it turned out later she was sick). So I had only this one “ghost team member,” and people were asking me if she was real!

Then, just before the recruiting ended, Tom, Raj, and Dustin (all General Business types) decided to join the project, and I was super grateful. In retrospect, a team of five, while small, is really ideal. Decision-making was really fast, and we were the epitome of “agile.”

Raj Karyampudi, Tom Randolph, Dustin McDonald, Stefanie Karp, Patricia Geli, Alyson Wright

How did you feel about your idea and new company over the weekend?

Truthfully, we were always on the brink of thinking “no way is this going to work,” as we were eliminating customer segments instead of validating them.

One of the coaches pointed out that there is value to knowing who is NOT your target. We then started focusing more on the artists themselves, and the value proposition to them.  An artist friend of mine joined our team half-way through Saturday and that helped propel us forward as he became our “archetype.”  It helped so much to bring in outside people and their viewpoints along the way.

So the weekend is over – what’s next!?

The team got together via conference call the night after our win; we talked about what each of us wanted out of the startup weekend, and about our expectations going forward. I’m happily surprised that all members are committed to continuing developing the project, and we have a work plan for our next stage of customer validation.

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Any tips for others about to head to Startup Weekend?

Definitely study up on the lean startup methodology, so that the concepts are readily available to you. The framework, like the business model canvas tool, really works! It provides focus when you get stuck.

Any other comments?

Your team is ultimately the key to success, not the idea.

Global Startup Weekend was an opportunity for entrepreneurs, like these founders, to begin begin building their innovative ideas. Startup Weekend events continue to happen year-round, around the world, find one near you!


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Kacey Wherley Kacey Wherley
(@kaceyraewherley) is Marketing Manager at Techstars, located in Seattle. Before joining the Techstars team, Kacey was part of the UP Global team and previously with a cybersecurity startup in Pittsburgh. She enjoys all things social media and connecting with entrepreneurs online.