This post is written by Orren Prunckun.
It’s common for Startup Weekend participants to have insightful experiences, both personally and professionally during the event. For many however, the journey ends on Sunday night, but it does not have to. By reading two participants’ stories, I hope to inspire you to contribute to the virtuous circle which Startup Weekend enables and reap the subtle yet important rewards it offers.
The virtuous circle
A virtuous circle is a benign series of intertwined experiences. These experiences strengthen other experiences through an enduring loop. The ongoing benefit of Startup Weekend is the lasting virtuous circles it manifests. These circles can potentially create a sequence of experiences that starts with one individual and affect hundreds of others. For people like Michael Reid and David Bartholomeusz, Startup Weekend Adelaide was a life changing experience and they subsequently continued to repay the local startup community. The content of their stories is unique, but countless others globally have created and sustained these virtuous circles in their own unique ways.
Michael attended the first Startup Weekend in Adelaide. It was the first time he found himself in a room full of people that were like just him: “People who weren’t happy with mindlessly taking orders from their bosses. People who had a passion to build their own ideas from the ground up,” explained Michael. For the first time in his life, he had people he could talk to about startups and the potential technology. Being in the company of other creators and ‘doers’ was liberating for him. However, Michael had a crushing setback when a developer abandoned his Startup Weekend project for another group. Instead of letting the disappointment get to him, quitting and going home, he teamed up with another group to work on a peer-to-peer lending platform.
Michael’s new team didn’t win any prizes, but the experience proved invaluable to him. It gave him a taste of what it was like to work with a team to develop an idea into a product. Although the product they built at Startup Weekend was abandoned, the contacts he made at that first event continue to serve him to this day. Michael and a team mate moved on to start the first tech-focused co-workspace in Adelaide, called Majoran, where startups could share the cost of office space and network — something no one was doing locally at the time. The workspace started as a humble room in the back of a building and grew quickly until they were leasing an entire floor with a large membership base, including many Startup Weekend alumni. Majoran now regularly sponsors local Startup Weekends.
David’s first point of contact was as a Startup Weekend mentor at the same event in Adelaide. He was already running a million dollar business, but saw significant value in an event that challenged people to take massive action in the way Startup Weekend did. Based on the confirmation of this observation, from his first experience, David became a participant the very next year. Even as a seasoned entrepreneur, David found himself nervous as he pitched an idea outside his usual comfort zone. He too made valuable contacts and started a new business, My Wedding DJ. In his own words he “achieved more in 54 hours than he had the whole year prior.” The year after that, David became a sponsor using revenue generated from My Wedding DJ he and his team designed.
Can you give back?
Michael and David both have passed the value they gained from Startup Weekend on to newcomers. Only a small number of participants who attend Startup Weekend commit to the virtuous circle, yet it is an underestimated opportunity; for donors a rising tide lifts all boats and for recipients it is a meaningful gift of value or wisdom. Leadership can come from the top, but it doesn’t need to; participant-built communities are far more reaching and sustaining than leader-built communities. Every participant at Startup Weekend can be a community leader and contribute in their own preferred way – whether it is by facilitating connections, mentoring a founder, establishing a meetup group, or contributing to online discussions. So can you give back? Choose your level of involvement post-weekend, then commit to one action to help build your local startup community, no matter the size or impact.