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Article by Pratibha R. Find her on LinkedIn.

When I heard that my college (NIT Tiruchirappalli) was going to host Startup Weekend in Trichy, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had heard a lot about it from others who attended it last year. However, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be useful.

My friend Ashwin and I got interested in entrepreneurship over the last year or so, after a lot of discussions about our dreams and goals in life. So in the end, we decided to sign up for the event because we thought that if nothing else – we would learn about what it takes to build a startup!

The event started on Friday evening (11th Sept). Everyone had one minute to pitch an idea. The participants of SW Trichy then voted for the best ideas and the top 17 were selected. Ashwin and I pitched for two different ideas, and to our surprise both of them got selected! Ashwin delivered his pitch in the beginning and I delivered the pitch towards the end (65th pitch), when Anurag Maloo – the Facilitator of the Startup Weekend Trichy, encouraged more students to come over and pitch their ideas.

sw3The people who pitched these top voted ideas got to form a team with the rest of the participants and worked over the weekend to make a minimum viable product and then deliver a final pitch (five minute presentation) in front of the judges on Sunday evening. Over this period of two days (Saturday and Sunday), mentors from various companies came in and helped the teams with developing and marketing their idea.

I think one of the overarching themes of the Startup Weekend I attended was the importance of sharing resources. Most of the participants were in the business/ marketing/ design crowd and there were very few developers and coders to go around. So a lot of teams had to share developers. This was particularly visible in my team. People from Ashwin’s group and mine decided to come together and work as one big team (9 people) for both the startup ideas.

This worked out surprisingly well. Everyone really made use of their expertise and in the end we had a cool MVP (minimum viable product) to present to the judges.

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Ashwin’s startup idea was based on making international transactions easier. We called it ‘Surrogate Buyer’. My startup idea was based on wearable technology and I named it as “e-Tex” just 2 seconds before I got up to pitch for the idea on Friday. We were working on creating a customisable display on a T-shirt as our MVP for e-Tex. Although everybody – mentors and general public (customer validation) – loved the idea of our startup product, we were quite unsure if it would be a successful business. That is when the mentors played a vital role. The mentors gave us a lot of insights and criticism, which was very crucial to the development and improvement of our startup. We moved ahead confidently and surprised everyone with our MVP during the final pitch, and we were also able to clarify a variety of concerns and questions from the judges. I think that in the end, that was what helped us bag the first place among the other 16 startup ideas.

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Startup Weekend was awesome. It was a truly brilliant learning experience. We witnessed a variety of people coming together and discussing ideas and concerns, learning to work together over an impossibly brief period of time to meet a specific goal. The most valuable takeaway from the Startup Weekend program was the interaction with the mentors from various backgrounds. The teams were able to draw from the substantial repository of knowledge about businesses and markets that the mentors possessed, which helped the teams refine and polish their idea and come up with a viable model for monetizing it. When it was finally time for the final presentations, everyone was surprised at what they could accomplish with less than 54 hours of work. I think, in the end, the most important lesson that I learned over the weekend is to be open to new learning experiences. It just might change your life!

Sara Sonnen Sara Sonnen
Sara is the Email Marketing Manager at Techstars. Previously, Sara was the Email Marketing Manager at UPGlobal before Techstars acquired the company in 2015. Sara graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Journalism and Business Administration from Washington State University.