What Happens at Startup Weekend?

At Startup Weekend, we refine undeveloped ideas into viable businesses. Startup Weekend combines the best parts of a hackathon, business plan competition and pitch contest. Participants work in teams to explore the resources, activities and relationships necessary to design and build new businesses from scratch.

They test their assumptions, interview real customers, meet with experienced coaches, and pitch as though to investors. By the end of the weekend, some teams will have functional prototypes, some may have even made sales, but all will deliver presentations of their work to a panel of judges.

The Spirit of Startup Weekend

All of the players and positions in the entrepreneurial ecosystem are represented at Startup Weekend: designers, developers, business people, students, professors, investors, and many more. Startup Weekend is designed to be accessible to anyone who wants to explore what it takes to turn an idea into a business.

Generous local sponsors ensure tickets remain inexpensive. Meals, snacks, and supplies are provided all weekend. Every person involved in planning, running, coaching, judging, facilitating… is a volunteer! Startup Weekend thrives on the passion and dedication of community minded locals who believe in entrepreneurship.

Friday Night: Pitch Night

Late Friday afternoon, a fascinating group of people gather to eat, meet and network, get warmed up, and settle in. The facilitator will open with a greeting and a little guidance for the weekend. Then our speakers, Jordan Maahs and keynoter Wade Foster will inspire us with their entrepreneurial experiences. Then the real fun begins…

Anyone with a new, undeveloped idea is invited to present their 60-second pitch to the crowd. After all the pitches are concluded, participants vote to determine which 10 or so business ideas will be developed over the weekend. Those whose ideas were not selected join other teams. Teams of roughly 4-5 people form organically around the winning pitches, and everyone gets right to work!

Saturday: Discovery, Iteration, Coaching, Testing

Throughout Saturday, participants work feverishly to innovate around their business models and explore variations of their value propositions. They go out into the community and interact with potential customers to discover whether their proposed solutions solve real problems — and if they don’t, they figure out what they should be creating instead. They meet with coaches — local experienced entrepreneurs, investors, designers, developers — people who have gone through these processes many times.

Sunday: Practice, Refine, Pitch

On Sunday, teams continue working, refining, meeting with coaches, and clarifying their business models. They develop their revenue models, cost structures, explore partnerships, marketing strategies and analyze the competitive landscape for their businesses.

On Sunday night each team delivers a 5-minute presentation, in the style of an investor pitch before a panel of judges. Then the judges grill them with questions for a few minutes. After all the teams have pitched, the judges withdraw to the deliberation room to discuss and select the winning teams. The prizes awarded to the winning teams at Startup Weekend are designed to encourage them to continue with their businesses post-weekend.

Want to be part of it? Check out a local Startup Weekend near you! 

Ready… Aim… Pitch Fire!

Startup Weekend is about connecting the entrepreneurs, makers and innovators in our community toward solving real problems by building new viable businesses from scratch in one weekend.

Pitch Fire

The main event on Friday night is called Pitch Fire. Anyone with a new business idea will be given exactly one minute to tell the room what problem they intend to solve, how they propose to solve it, and what kind of team they need to assemble.

Pitching is Caring

When our community comes together to share the problems we see, and the solutions we’ve conceived, powerful things happen. At Startup Weekend, it’s common to discover a handful of people that are deeply interested in the same things we are. Sharing our ideas is a first step toward discovering the resources and relationships we need.

It’s not required or expected that every participant pitch a business idea, but it’s strongly recommended! The experience of pitching to an audience and discovering whether your message is clearly understood by all is an important part of the entrepreneurial journey.

If you don’t bring an idea, or aren’t comfortable pitching, that’s okay. Just bring your passion, skills, and tools. There are many important roles to play throughout the weekend. You’ll find a good business idea to work on, have tons of fun, learn new things, eat great food, and meet some amazing people.

Sell Your Solution; Sell Yourself

While people are listening to your idea, they’re also observing you. They’re considering whether they want to work with you in close proximity for the next two days. They’re assessing whether you seem able to work well with a team and sustain the business going forward.

You Bring More Than an Idea

As a member of the team you hope to assemble you’ll want to quickly include a note about who you are and what you bring to the table. There’s no room in a startup for someone who is merely the “idea person.” You also bring experiences, skills, aptitudes, relationships, resources, etc. What strengths do you have which are relevant? Why are you the right person to explore and execute a solution?

Pitch Pattern

A simple 60-second pitch may look like:

:10 seconds – Introduce yourself.  
:20 seconds – Describe the problem you’ll solve.  
:20 seconds – Describe the solution.   
:10 seconds – Tell us who/what you need to be pull it off.  

Choosing a Name

During your initial pitch on Friday night your goal is to communicate clearly, be memorable, and generate interest around your idea. Choose a working title which is simple, descriptive, and memorable. Don’t worry — you can change it later. Imagine what someone would think about your idea based on the name alone. Without hearing your pitch, would they be able to guess what your business is about?

Practicing Your Pitch

Practice to a timer. On Friday night you’ll have exactly 1 minute to pitch your idea. It goes by fast. Practice to a timer a dozen times before you get up and do it front of an audience.

Practice with people. Practice your pitch with a variety of people. Try it on a grandparent, a friend, a coworker, a classmate, and a few strangers. Stick to your one minute pitch when practicing on people. After you pitch, ask them what they think you’re trying to do. You’ll discover what aspects of your pitch are unclear and learn to correct them so that people understand your proposal the first time.

Start Up, Sign Up

Want to be part of it? Check out a local Startup Weekend near you!