The following conversation with Nick Stevens of The Netherlands kicks-off our Featured Facilitator Series.
How did you get involved with Startup Weekend?
I got involved by booking a ticket to attend Amsterdam 2011. Two years prior, I had left the world of corporate America and returned to small business and startups. Startup Weekend seemed like a fun event that could help with networking, although I found it odd that there appeared to be no social media buzz. I wrote an email to the organisers, asking if it was something I could help with, and that’s how I ended up on the organising team. It’s been a roller-coaster ride ever since.
How would you describe the impact Startup Weekend has had on your local entrepreneurial ecosystem?
“The Netherlands has always been a very innovative country, but over the last few years the startup scene has really come alive.
In 2010, there were two Startup Weekend events in the whole country. 2011 saw four different cities all with 70+ attendees each, Amsterdam had a massive 180 with 70 guests on Sunday night. I see that many of the attendees have continued with entrepreneurial pursuits, some with other attendees and that some of the teams/products still exist today.
2012 is looking like six cities – remember that the population here is less than 17 million people (about the size of Greater Los Angeles), and it’s clear that Startup Weekend is really helping people to get their feet into the world of entrepreneurship, and not just in Amsterdam.”
How do you see Startup Weekend Facilitators contributing to the growth & development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem?
“As well as keeping a level of experiential consistency across all of the events, I think the facilitators are also ambassadors, not only for Startup Weekend, but also for the startup and entrepreneurship communities in general, both local and global.
If I wanted to know what was going on in any particular city, I’d certainly be talking to the most local Startup Weekend facilitator, as even if they don’t know themselves, they’ll almost certainly be connected to the people who do.”
What words of advice would you give a first time Startup Weekend Organizer?
Make sure that >50% of the organising team has been to a Startup Weekend event – it’s a lot less stressful and much more fun to organise something you really understand.
Is there anything fun or interesting you do at the events you facilitate? What makes you unique as a Startup Weekend Facilitator?
“So far, I’ve yet to find my own “”signature”” for events. I picked up a few ideas at the recent Organiser Summit, so I’ll be adding some new fun at the next few events I attend.
Having attended, won, co-organised and lead-organised events and now being a facilitator, I think I’ve seen Startup Weekend events from more different perspectives than most, this really helps me to understand how to steer an event to make sure the attendees get more than they expect.”
What do you think the Global Startup Weekend Community of Facilitators could do to support each other more effectively?
“There’s a wealth of knowledge held between the facilitators, that doesn’t necessarily get shared on a wide level – I think that’s a shame. At the recent Organiser summit the facilitators present discussed a number of things that could be done, mostly revolving around more direct communication and meetups with each other as well as cross-facilitation of events. All of these things are in progress for 2012,
I’ll certainly be keeping in touch with the people I met, and asking them plenty of questions on how I can make my events better, as well as sharing what did(n’t) work for me.”
Are there any global communities you would like to connect with or invite to your next local Startup Weekend event?
“I’d love to be able to get some more high profile, less local, entrepreneurial business heroes, to attend the Dutch events.
We had Arthur van Hoff (http://www.linkedin.com/in/aavanhoff) from Flipboard attend the entire event for Startup Weekend Enschede 2012, his input to the teams was as invaluable as it was inspirational. ”
Anything else you would like to add or talk about?
I <3 Startup Weekend and I’m open to invitations to facilitate or visit any event, anywhere in the world.