How did you get involved with Startup Weekend?
I attended two Startup Weekends in NYC in the fall of 2010 and pushed really hard to do it in India. Shane Reiser (former COO of Startup Weekend) was a big supporter and made it happen. I did the first two events in New Delhi and Bangalore in March of 2011. In June of 2011 I moved to New Delhi and just kept pushing ahead.
How would you describe the impact Startup Weekend has had on your local entrepreneurial ecosystem?
I believe Startup Weekend has made a big impact in India. In 13 months, 7 startups have come out of Startup Weekend. An additional 3 are rumored to exist in some state but I have yet to confirm these 3. Many co-founders have met at the various SW events across India and we are seeing an increase in “serial weekenders.” Some people are even traveling from distant parts of the country to be a part of the community.
How do you see Startup Weekend Facilitators contributing to the growth & development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem?
Facilitators are the face of Startup Weekend. As Facilitators, it is important that we identify with the problems startups and entrepreneurs face and help facilitate solving those problems – or at least identifying potential ways of solving those problems during the weekend.
I believe that as Facilitators what we do and how we run the event over the weekend directly impacts the perception people have about Startup Weekend and what we are here to do.
What words of advice would you give a first time Startup Weekend Organizer?
Plan for the unexpected. Be flexible and adapt as situations arise. Sometimes it is important to stick to what you’ve decided and planned but other times, go with the flow.
Be very strict on timing or 54 hours will turn into 72 hours very quickly.
Is there anything fun or interesting you do at the events you facilitate? What makes you unique as a Startup Weekend Facilitator?
I haven’t experimented much with fun things much, mostly due to space or time constraints. Informally, we have done sessions of Half-Baked, inspired by Dave McClure.
People tell me that what makes me unique is my punctuality and sticking to the time limits set. In a place like India, where time doesn’t mean much to people, sticking to a schedule was very important to me. It was a way of showing people that within strict time constraints they could still produce something significant whether it’s their pitch, MVP, or demo.
What do you think the Global Startup Weekend Community of Facilitators could do to support each other more effectively?
Meet at least once a year. Facebook is great but it’s not the same as spending time together face-to-face and discussing the nuances of different countries and cities. Costs, scheduling, and distance are issues though.
Are there any global communities you would like to connect with or invite to your next local Startup Weekend event?
Startup Bus would be cool to have in India. I haven’t thought much about global communities but it would be great to have more of the SW Core Team coming to events in India and I would also like to get people like Naval and Nivi from VentureHacks/AngelList, M. Arrington, Om Malik, M. Suster, B. Feld, Dave Morin, Eric Ries, Steve Blank, plus a number of early stage entrepreneurs with good traction to mentor teams at SW.
Anything else you would like to add or talk about?
Startup Weekend and the team rock! The number of lives globally that have changed directly as a result if SW is incredible. I’m thrilled and humbled to be a part of such an incredible organization.