Engineers: Try Something New!

Another edition of Startup Weekend is around the corner. If you have already attended previous editions of Startup Weekends, you will be familiar with how the event works. If this is a first time for you, please check out the Startup Weekend website for the schedule. The weekend typically spans 54 hours giving everyone a shot at trying to build something that is a reflection of their idea and to communicate effectively the problem they are trying to solve.

Perfection is not the motto. Churning out iterations as fast as possible based on feedback from potential customers is what the event is all about. Every Startup Weekend aims to provide a safe place where it is the norm to make mistakes and fumble a bit. When in doubt, find an organizer or volunteer for help. They are passionate about helping people and took the time to organize the event for you. So feel free to ask them anything. Asking questions is highly encouraged, challenging norms is the normal and coming up with creative/cross solutions is the expectation. No pressure!

Even though digital solutions are usually pitched, other avenues for solving pressing problems are welcomed. Digital solutions have an advantage of being easy to create and dispose of, thus helping with exploring different solutions very fast. It is important to have a good mix of backgrounds in the team you join. Different perspectives help in teasing out various solutions and discovering aspects that would not be usually discovered within teams of very limited perspective about how things work. Startup Weekend events take pride in the fact that it is able to attract a diverse crowd especially in Dublin, which is a melting pot of people from around the world.

Being a software engineer at heart and having the privilege to be in an amazing education focused company – Udemy, I can vouch for the fact that software engineers play a pivotal role in bringing digital solutions to life. For those who find their job monotonous and are looking for something interesting, this is one event that gives you an adrenaline rush for your gray cells. You also get to step out of your comfort zone at work and get a feel of finding solutions to diverse problems that can stretch your limits. It is a great getaway for some introspection about what your skills are and how good you are. Problem solving through design and prototyping is also an effective way to improve your communication skills by distilling only the absolute necessary. As an engineer, do not be afraid to don multiple hats during the event like:

  • Sales – try to sell a product through empathy and adding value. You don’t need to be a full fledged sales person to make sales. Keep it simple. Talk to different people about what the pain points are and look for avenues where people really need a solution. Now, perceived problems are dime and dozen. You would need to weed out the areas that have the maximum impact, then try and make a sales pitch.
  • Marketing – find great use-cases where the solution would be useful. This could involve some market research which might look daunting at first but I totally recommend going with the flow as it would give you a good idea of what to look for in good data sources when making data driven decisions.
  • Design – try to get in touch with your creative side coming up with great designs. This can usually be a bit challenging for developers as they find it hard to create UI designs. I don’t recommend diving head first into the deep end, at least work closely with designers to understand how they approach a problem and brainstorm potential solutions. Be generous in providing different solutions but do not stem the flow of thoughts and ideas that come up.

Having attended multiple such events in the past, I can certainly vouch for the buzz and great friendships that are formed over such events which can & usually leads to interesting future projects together. The nail biting suspense during presentations, Q & A from judges and compliments from the audience make it a worthwhile investment of your time. So don’t be afraid to take the first step. Remember, the effort behind an idea is worth more than just some thoughts in your head. If you did not have the courage or time to pursue an idea before, do not hesitate, come over for Startup Weekend EDU Dublin at Udemy for a fun filled weekend of learning, experimentation, and self-exploration. I look forward to meeting you in person!