You’ve probably heard, read or even been part of a Startup Weekend. So you probably know that it is a 54 hour race to develop an idea into a startup. It takes place from Friday to Sunday; you have the opportunity to go on stage and pitch a startup idea; if your idea is selected you will form a team, develop it and present what your team has created to a panel of judges. Simple, right?
The whole event is designed to help you to learn and apply techniques like the Elevator Pitch, Business Model Canvas and the Lean Startup methodology. Startup Weekend aims to connect you with potential partners and co-founders who can combine their resources and abilities to build a validated prototype as fast as possible.
If you’re attending for the first time it’s important to understand that this is a massive learning exercise, so don’t expect to walk away with the next Facebook or Tesla after just one weekend.
Here are some tips to clarify what the weekend is all about:
Trust the process (honesty is the best policy)
On Friday attendees will have 60 seconds to give their best idea. After pitches are finished, all attendees will vote on their favorites, and using these votes the top ideas will be selected to be worked on over the weekend. Maybe your friend proposed an idea, but that is not reason enough to vote for him. If we want to give value to Startup Weekend and the efforts of many people who organise it, we have to get the best ideas to the the finals. Here is where the policy of honesty applies: Vote for the idea you think is addressing a real problem and is innovative, interesting, and could have a global impact. This way we all have an awesome experience.
Build your capability, not a business
Can I pitch my existing business? Is this event the ideal place to promote my products or services? It is not. Startup Weekend is designed to be the most effective platform for creating new businesses from an idea to a prototype over the weekend. If you have an idea and it is selected, it is an excellent opportunity to find talented people to help you develop it – the central value for participants is the spirit of complete collaboration. The most important thing is to team up with new people and learn new things.
There is no age limit to participate!
Around the world, the age of Startup Weekend participants ranges between 11 and 76 years. Startup Weekend is open to everybody. Anyone can have a good idea and the skills needed to achieve it, whether a business person, designer or developer. Our main mission is to promote entrepreneurship to all.
In Startup Weekend we are all equal
“Judges and mentors know everything”. False. Every Startup Weekend we have excellent mentors and judges, all of them from different experiences and backgrounds. They may offer suggestions and opinions, share a personal experience, speak out their minds about the product but this does not mean that they have the final word.
We must consider this world of entrepreneurship, as a space where everyone must contribute something. Maybe some entrepreneurs are more experienced or have achieved success earlier, but that should not make a difference between entrepreneurs, judges and/or mentors. We have seen partners or co-founders of companies that already have some popularity sitting at a table to continue undertaking Startup Weekend, and transmitting their experience and knowledge to amateurs entrepreneurs.
No talk, all action!
Startup Weekend is the perfect place to experience startup life, the “rules” are simple: Come share ideas, form teams, and launch startups.
And very importantly, not everyone can be a winner but we can guarantee you this: Work hard, play hard, be open to learning and you will never forget this weekend.
So… Are you ready to participate in Startup Weekend Auckland?
Q: How does a designer feel in a hackathon dominated by people from business and tech fields?
It’s going to be challenging but you have a lot to contribute because you’re definitely needed. That also makes it easier to find a team that you’re interested in.
Q: In Startup Weekend what’s particularly interesting for a designer?
For me Startup Weekend is about trying ideas, some of them might breakthrough and become something that you may continue working on.
Most designers that I know are into creating something new and thinking about the user and customer side to make the best service, experience or product. I think all of the teams need to think about the triangle of feasibility, desirability and durability and they need people like designers to think about the desirability.
Q: What do you love about Startup Weekend apart from the great food?
I think the best part; the most rewarding part is that your network is expanding. You start working with people and you get to know them much better in a very short time. It’s not just sitting somewhere and talking, you’re actually working together intensely for two days.
Q: What sets Startup Weekend apart from other hackathons?
Startup Weekend is very open, people can come there and you can choose from a pool of various ideas. It’s very different and there are many different fields represented. I’ve been involved with medical startups, apps, games, social impact projects and services for companies. If you have time during the weekend there’s a lot that you can try, see and get inspired from.
Q: Would you and why would you encourage other designers to participate in Startup Weekend?
Because I know they can do a lot. Designers can help a team put their project into a tangible form that people can make sense out of after two days when you’re presenting it.
Q: What can a designer expect from an event like Startup Weekend?
Inspiration, networking, learning, getting to know more people and getting opportunities. You can get to know valuable people that you might need later on or they might contact you afterwards. You might find an interesting partner that you continue with afterwards which has happened many times for me.
Q: Has Startup Weekend ever helped your professional career?
Yeah, I found people that I’m now working with, some of them turned into good friends. I also have been working on some of the projects afterwards. It has always been inspiring for me and at the end of every Startup Weekend I’ve always come out happily no matter what happened. I’ve never regretted spending my weekend at Startup Weekend.
Pouria is now leading a startup called Grib that works in 3D solutions, check them out!
Startup Weekend Helsinki is organising another event in November find out more here: bit.ly/SWhki
It’s lift off at the April edition of Startup Weekend Dublin and the ideas to go through the weekend are finally decided on.
Day 1 saw participants get into the #SWDub spirit with Half Baked. The winner Prison Post, a paper based social network to help inmates get ready for the world outside won.
The game is however over and it’s time to get down to business. 32 ideas were pitched and after voting these 11 have emerged as those to be worked on during the weekend:
1. Gymy – Airbnb for Gyms
2. Health Assist – Health professional directory with online booking
3. Car Safari – Keeping kids engaged while on a long journey
4. Sober Sean – Uber-type service to get you and your car home after a night out
5. Be My Hermes – Last mile postal service via commuters
6. 11th Hour – Connecting local businesses with last minute temporary/shift workers
7. Skills Bank – Peer to peer skills swap
8. Startup Compost – Liquidation platform and knowledge repository for failed startups
9. Twirle – Social network connecting shoppers from the fitting room to fashion enthusiast
10. Xiron – Virtual coaching platform for gaming
11. Local Mi – Connecting customers to local businesses
The teams have been formed and it’s time to get into the trenches to validate ideas, build products, get customers, and priceless feedback from our on-the-ground and virtual mentors.
Many thanks to our sponsor Domino Pizza, Google for Entrepreneurs, DCU Ryan Academy, Bank of Ireland, and The T-Shirt Company for the support so far.
Keep up with the action on twitter via hashtag – #SWDub.
The November edition of Startup Weekend kicked off in Dublin on a very high note. It was interesting to see a good number of entrepreneurs – designers, developers, and business people gathered for an amazing weekend.
It sure didn’t take long before the ideas started flowing. The ‘Half Baked‘ activity just went to show how creative people could be on the fly with ideas like Green Samurias, Unicorn Shampoo, and Baby Microphone – solutions to real life problems with interesting business models too.
It was great to see people pitching startup ideas and forming teams across different areas including health, mobile, communication, social media, enterprise, productivity, education, travel and more during the night. You can check out some of the favourites ideas here.
Perhaps the most important word for the evening was from event judge and Googler, Anatolyl when he said:
— StartupWeekendDublin (@SWDub) November 21, 2014
Day 1 of Startup Weekend – #SWDub ended with 15 teams looking to build products and solutions, validate, and pitch to a panel of judges at the end of the weekend.
Follow their progress on Twitter and Vine – @SWDub and tweet us your experience using the hashtag #SWDub.