By Margaux Joly, Techstars Customer Experience Coordinator
You’ve just finished your Techstars Startup Weekend, now it’s Monday and you’re back at work. Your backpack is still filled with post-it notes, a lean canvas template, seemingly infinite pens, and wrappers from all the energy bars you ate last weekend to sustain yourself.
Your head is still spinning with ideas for the project you worked on from the weekend. In between your morning emails, you stand up to make a cup of coffee, and you suddenly realize that maybe you need to pivot again because the market research you did was actually pointing toward another target audience this whole time! Those people would have the purchase power to buy your product, meaning you wouldn’t need to forgo that really cool feature of the app (as you thought you might before, because it was too costly). You immediately text your Techstars Startup Weekend group the idea, they all love it, and then you realize that you’re standing up in the middle your office, completely forgetting what you were doing in the first place (you were getting coffee).
Welcome to the community! This is why we love these events so much. It takes a certain type of person to do just what you did, but the good news is at Techstars, we are those types of people and you are not alone.
Here are some tips to help you collect your thoughts and help find the next logical steps for you:
Take a step back and let your mind rest
During the weekend, there is a lot going on. Your brain has just been flooded with information, criticism, and advice from the mentors and judges. You’re feeling the momentum and excitement to get started, but this can lead you to go around in circles chasing your own tail. Give yourself a couple of nights to sleep on your idea and absorb all of this feedback.
Assess where you are at
If, after you’ve given it some thought, you’re still super excited to work on this, then it’s time to assess where you’re at.
Find a morning or afternoon where you can take some time by yourself, bring your favorite pens, post-it, whiteboard… and lay everything flat on the table. Where is your idea at right now? Categorize your thoughts in four ways:
- What is your core purpose? Why are you doing this? It could be as simple as: I want to be my own boss and be in charge of the decision-making of my company. I want to create a company where parents can have a healthy work-life balance. I want to make healthcare accessible to everyone. I want to be the first company to make virtual candies… Don’t ask yourself how you are going to do this; that will come with time. If early on you can understand why you want to do this, you will always be able to hold on to that and it will guide you.
- What makes sense? List the things you think are really strong about your idea and the things that give your stomach excited butterflies…
- What doesn’t make sense? This can either be the things that you don’t personally understand about the idea, or the things that just don’t feel right.
- What needs work? The ideas that have potential but have not yet been addressed.
Touch base with your team
Before you come into another conversation with your team, assess what role you want to take in this project. Do you want to drive the whole thing? Do you want to focus on one area and need others to take ownership of the rest? Do you want to work with a team or would you rather do this alone?
It’s very common for a team to break up after a Techstars Startup Weekend. Sometimes it’s the whole team, sometimes it’s just one person. Whatever happens with your team, it’s okay. People come into this event with their own life story and perhaps they cannot commit to adding more work to their plate afterwards. If you have a good chat with your team, and set the right expectations, you’ll be surprised by how generous people can be with their time and how willing they are to lend a hand.
What you don’t want is to keep working on an idea, thinking you have people you can count on—when in fact you don’t.
Figure out the next steps
Determine a plan of action and start building your business plan. You will constantly be revising some aspects until it is right.
Set yourself big hairy audacious goals (BHAGs), but also small achievable ones, because there is nothing more satisfying than crossing things off your list. Set different timeframes for your different goals.
Don’t be afraid to start asking yourself the hard questions: “What are your finances going to be like? What are the next legal steps you need to take to protect your idea?”
Surround yourself with people who will help you
Know that you are not in this alone. It doesn’t cost anything to sit down over a coffee with someone to ask them some questions about law or money or marketing or anything else.
This is the very beginning: the moment when your startup starts. It’s exciting, scary, and absolutely wonderful. Enjoy it. And ask for lots and lots of help: no one succeeds alone.
Find a Techstars Startup Weekend near you, and experience the highs, lows, fun, and pressure that make up life at a startup—in 54 hours.