1. Meet people who are like you
Are you fed up with current education offerings? Do you think there are better ways to teach and learn? If you answered yes, then you are going to feel very much at home at Startup Weekend Education (SWEDU). Over the span of just one weekend (Friday night through Sunday night), you’ll meet up to 120 other people who also believe there’s a better way to do education. And like you, these people aren’t just interested in sitting around in a circle venting about the problems; they’re go-getters too, who are ready to dive in and take action to actually devise solutions.
2. Meet people who are not like you
It’s great that you’ve found “your people,” but that’s only just the beginning. It’s imperative that amongst these people, you find those who possess different skillsets than you. The fact of the matter is, you’re not going to build a successful edtech company with developers alone. Developers must be paired with educators, designers, business people, and other important stakeholders, in order to create the best possible solution. Just think, if you’re Steve Jobs, SWEDU is where you may be able to find your Steve Wozniak.
3. Learn from people who’ve already done it
How many edtech companies have come and gone? I don’t have the exact number, but ask anyone in a school system who’s purchased edtech, or ask any investor who’s funded edtech, and they’ll likely tell you: it’s a lot. So how do we fix this problem? How do we create better companies that stand the test of time? Well, that’s a very complicated problem, but one thing that’s key is access to great mentorship. SWEDU pairs people with quality mentors from the very start of their entrepreneurial journey. Seasoned school leaders, edtech investors, edtech founders, etc. are on hand throughout the weekend to share their best practices, strategies, and “Do’s and Dont’s” of not just launching a venture, but developing a scalable and sustainable business model. Ultimately, the mentors help participants fail faster, hopefully avoid mistakes they’ve made, and even set them up to leapfrog the current solutions out there.
4. Turn an idea into a startup in 54 hours
Buy a ticket, show up, listen to 3-5 panelists share their experiences and advice, try to get the moderator’s attention so that you can ask your question, mingle with a few other attendees, and go home. Sound familiar? Yup, I thought so. That’s the typical run-down of a meetup, conference, or summit, and this is currently what people are limited to if they want to engage with others who are interested in making a difference in education. (Don’t get me wrong: the Speaker(s): Audience format absolutely has its place in the learning, networking, and community building process, but this article is about SWEDU). At SWEDU we take a different approach that’s represented by our motto: No Talk, All Action. At our events, your success isn’t determined by how many notes you took, how many tweets you posted, or how many business cards you collected. Here, it’s all about what you actually built. The 54-hour timeframe gives you a bite-sized taste of what developing a startup looks and feels likes. At a SWEDU, learning by doing trumps learning by listening.
5. Fail faster
One of the worst things an entrepreneur can do is build something in isolation and not share it with others who can potentially provide essential input. On Sunday night at every SWEDU around the world, the creations are assessed by a panel of judges, who represent important decision makers (e.g. funders, customers, users). By the end of just one weekend, you’ll know what industry experts think of your solution (for better or for worse), and you’ll be able to use that knowledge to inform your next move. This is important, because as Lean Startup founder Eric Ries highlights, “The only way to (truly) win is to learn faster than anyone else.”