Award-winning Mackay entrepreneurs join Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast

We’re so excited to welcome some of regional Queensland’s brightest entrepreneurial talent to Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2016 this Friday night.  

A group of startup enthusiasts from Mackay will join more than 70 local designers, developers and businesspeople for the three-day event, to be held at Spark Bureau in Maroochydore.

The group, which will also attend Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland Innovation and Investment Summit in Brisbane on April 27-29, includes a previous winner of Startup Weekend Mackay, a previous winner of Startup Weekend Cairns and the second place, third place and People’s Choice recipients from Startup Weekend Townsville.

Jarryd Townson, who is a coach and mentor at Startup Weekend Mackay, said attending Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast would provide a valuable opportunity to forge new connections across regional Queensland’s entrepreneurial ecosystems.

We’ve got a very strong startup community in Mackay, and people are always willing to travel to compete in these kinds of events, as it allows us to see what people are doing in other regions,” he said.

“It’s also a good chance to hone our own skills. For me, it’s about looking at how I can be a better mentor and improve what we have on offer in Mackay.”

Jarryd, who is the founder of the forthcoming Split Spaces coworking space in Mackay, is also a former University of the Sunshine Coast student.

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast organiser Retha Scheepers said the Mackay contingent would add valuable energy and experience to the local event.

“Startup Weekend is all about collaboration and learning, so we are excited to welcome seasoned participants from other parts of Queensland to share their ideas, passion and skills,” she said.

“Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast has the highest proportion of students of any regional event in Queensland and having the opportunity to work alongside people who are committed to building entrepreneurial communities is a great learning experience for everyone involved.”

One of the aims of our event is to show aspiring entrepreneurs that it’s possible to succeed in regional Australia.

“For many founders, the key to building a successful startup is not geographical location anymore, but the quality of connections and support around you,” Retha said.

“Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast showcases the enthusiasm, talent and passion within regional Queensland, and we’re excited to welcome some of Mackay’s leading entrepreneurs to the Coast.”

Tickets are still available for Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast. To register click here.

Developers: what’s in it for you?

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast brings together entrepreneurs, designers and developers for 54 hours of fun. The format emphasises fast, efficient product development – so if you can code, you’ll be a valuable addition to almost any team. But what’s in it for you? 

We’ve spoken to some former participants to discover the key takeaways for programmers and developers.

Build something in one weekend
If you’re a student, a parent or have a day job, it can be tough to find time to work on side projects. At Startup Weekend, you can devote an entire weekend to developing and building something new. Whether you pitch your own idea or join someone else’s team, you have 54 hours to make something happen – which is an efficient way to showcase your technical skills and develop your portfolio.

Learn Lean Startup
At Startup Weekend you’ll use the principles of Lean Startup Methodology to develop and refine your business model. It’s a framework that’s best learnt by doing, and the weekend provides the perfect opportunity to get your hands dirty. Whether you’re new to the startup space or a seasoned entrepreneur, you’ll walk away with a better understanding of how to grow (and pivot) a startup, and the tools you’ll need to do it again in the future. 

Make new connections
Former participants will tell you that one of the best things about Startup Weekend is the people you meet. From fellow participants through to mentors and judges, you’ll be surrounded by likeminded people who are as passionate about tech, design and usability as you are. Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast brings the local entrepreneurial ecosystem together, so it’s a great place to network, meet potential cofounders or just make new friends.

Challenge yourself
The Startup Weekend format involves long hours, tight deadlines and plenty of teamwork. It’s a great opportunity to develop your technical skills – from traditional programming to UX and rapid prototyping – in a supportive environment. Here, failure isn’t frowned upon: it’s considered a crucial part of the process.

Broaden your skill set
Tech skills are important, but to succeed at Startup Weekend you’ll also need business, design, sales and marketing know-how. That’s where your team comes in. Building a multidisciplinary team gives you the best possible chance of success, but it also means you get to work alongside people with vastly different skill sets to yours. It’s a great way to get some hands-on understanding of how all these elements interact to deliver a final product. 

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2016 is on April 29 to May 1. To register as a developer click here

The Art of the One-Minute Pitch

The one-minute pitch takes place on Friday night, when all participants can share their ideas and encourage others to join their team. While pitching can be stressful, it can also be lots of fun, and nailing the one-minute pitch is one of the most valuable skills you can practise at Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast.

Pitching on Friday night is optional. Some participants come with great ideas; others come ready to roll up their sleeves and those ideas into a reality. Our experience shows that great ideas spark other great ideas, so you want to get ready to ‘sell’ your idea to a potential team. So how do you do it?

Do you have a genius idea?

Your purpose is not to educate others, but to get them excited about your idea. Remember you only have one minute to pitch, so every second counts. We suggest you allocate your time as follows:

  • Who are you? (5-10 seconds) Start strong and help people remember your skill set (use a hook) Example: My name is John and I’m a futurist and designer creating the next generation of drone videography tours in the real estate industry.
  • What is the problem? (10-20 seconds) Describe the problem in simple terms that the audience can relate to. The audience needs to understand the problem, otherwise they cannot vote for you
    Example: Have you tried to buy or sell a house lately? All the websites and ads look the same. The real estate market presents homes to potential buyers in a boring, predictable way, despite the technology available today. This limits the seller’s chance of getting their home sold and potential buyers’ chances of truly experiencing a home’s real potential.
  • What is your solution? (10-20 seconds) Make your solution plausible and logical. Add your secret sauce, i.e. your special skillset that shows you can make this work.
    Example: I propose to develop a stylised packaged of videos and photos that buyers can use to showcase their homes, recorded and photographed by drones and put together by designers. Quirky name: LightWhisper Design
  • Who do you need? (5-10 seconds) End with an invitation or call to action for specific skill sets. This sets the expectation of what prospective team members can bring to the table.
    Example: I am looking for IT professionals, business, legal and marketing people to turn this dream into a startup.

Final tips? Use your 60 seconds to let your personality shine through. Be the best version of you (even though it’s Friday night). People want to work with someone who is passionate, inspired and capable, and they want to work on something meaningful: something big that will solve an important worldwide problem.

In our experience, the best pitches are practiced pitches. Take the time to think about your audience and not just your idea, and practice in front of friends (or the mirror!). To watch a few pitches (and help calm your nerves), check out these example Friday night pitches from last year’s Startup Weekend for Health in Brisbane.

Good luck!

Tickets are still available for Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2016. To register click here.

The Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast experience

Former University of the Sunshine Coast student Jessie Lee pitched the winning idea at Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2015. Here, she shares her reflections on the weekend that was.

“Wow, what a weekend! So many emotions are rolled into the space of 54 hours. From meeting likeminded people to gaining inspiration from successful entrepreneurs, Startup Weekend gives you both of these and more.

“For me, Startup Weekend was a learning experience. As a journalism student I was there to learn about businesses and technology. My idea was based on a traditional software system, but needed to use today’s technology to keep up with the times – something I had no clue about and therefore no idea where to start.

“We weren’t voted into the top group in the beginning and had to form our own team. Thankfully two of my classmates had worked in the industry I pitched and wanted to help out. A team of three, with some great help along the way, is all you need to get an idea rolling.

“Honest feedback is what you get over the weekend. Some people believe in your idea, others don’t, but the inspiration you see reflected in your mentors’ eyes keeps you going and wanting to know more. The best thing is I’ve made some friends along the way who have freely given a lot of advice over the year.

“My advice for someone who has an idea is to pitch it. At least for the feedback you’ll receive. Of course, even if you decide not to pitch, joining a team and learning as much as possible is what Startup Weekend is all about.

“Everyone is there to help someone achieve their dreams, so why not use this weekend to learn some skills on how to make your dreams a reality too?”

To register for Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2016 click here.

— By Jessie Lee

Is Startup Weekend for you?

Are you interested in entrepreneurship? Passionate about the power of tech to change the world? Constantly saying “There should be an app for this?” If so, Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast is the place for you.

Startup Weekend is an intensive, action-based 54-hour event made for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. It’s the perfect place to meet new people, test your ideas and develop Lean Startup skills in a fun, supportive environment. Whether you’re a serial entrepreneur or new to the Sunshine Coast startup scene, if you’re motivated to build a product or startup and open to new ideas, you’ll fit right in.

Nope. (But if you can, we promise you’ll be popular.) The Startup Weekend crew is a great mix of developers, designers, students, businesspeople, marketers, big-picture thinkers – and more. The real beauty of the event is that it brings together a diverse group of people with different skills and backgrounds, and empowers them to work together on creative solutions.

No, but you should! On Friday night, anyone who wants to can pitch an idea to the crowd. You’ll have 60 seconds to get your idea across and convince others to join your team. It can be an idea you’ve been mulling over for years, or something last-minute – as long as it solves a problem or addresses a market gap, there’s a chance of forming a team and getting your idea off the ground. (It can’t be an existing business, though.) If you don’t want to pitch, simply hang back, listen to all the pitches and then make a beeline for the idea you most want to work on.

Of course. Over the weekend you’ll meet speakers and coaches who are there to guide you through the process. Coaches will be on site at set periods to help with advice, feedback and nailing the final Sunday night pitch.

Yep. Your ticket price includes all meals. Bargain!

Still not sure? We’re hosting a pre-Startup Weekend get-together where you can meet other participants, share tips and advice, and learn more about what’s involved. It’s free and there will be drinks at bar prices.

Date/time:      Wednesday April 13, from 5.30pm

Venue:            The Post Office, 10 Ocean Street, Maroochydore