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Saturday is when you really start going and there are a huge number of varied mentors and advisors about during the day to give you input and advice (and to drive large buses through some of the holes in your business plans). We went through many lean canvases, talked through and round the ideas and finally ended up full circle about midday but we learned quite a bit on the way there.
From a technical point of view there is always an urge to just build something straight away as the time frame is so short and having a functioning MVP by the pitch time is one of the judging criteria. Depending on what the idea is your MVP might be a landing page to gather signups, it might be a data gathering program, it might be an app and it might a piece of hardware. Your MVP will depend on your team and if it’s software related you’ve got some tools to help you with setting yourself up over the weekend including a free domain and some server time.
But the end product of the weekend is going to be your pitch on stage so if what you’re doing doesn’t add value to that goal then maybe rethink if you should do it. Does what you’re building contribute to validating your idea and will it enable you to start gathering data (signups, users, products etc)? If so then go forth and build, if not, maybe check your premises.
Validation of your assumptions, goals and business plan is really the focus of the first half of Saturday; what is it we’re solving and do people want it? Identify your customers and get out and talk to them is a good step and it can help you identify if your value proposition is attractive to them.
There’s ongoing talks throughout the day from some great speakers and if you can split your team to take in those talks and build those learnings into your process as well as taking on board your mentors advice you’ll be making the most of the weekend.
The second half of Saturday is then really a hell for leather run at finalising your strategy, building out your MVP and working out how to clearly tell the story of your product in the 4 short minutes you’ll have on stage.
Oh and not to forget the tasty Google food to keep you going throughout the day and the few drinks at the end of the day to carry out your post-mortem.
Sunday is more of a minor panic mode as you work towards finishing your pitch with those presenting practising and getting feedback from mentors. Before you know it you’re in the Google auditorium and watching twenty or so pitches up on stage along with doing your own and then it’s all over, winners announced and everyone on stage for a picture and celebration.
And it seemed like only a moment ago you walked in the door on a Friday evening whereas now it’s Sunday and even though everyone can’t win the judge’s prize everyone who has taken part has had some fun and learned something new along the way.
It really is a great experience and you’ll meet plenty of interesting people and listen to some cool ideas throughout the weekend. Technical people and designers are in pretty high demand when it comes to the team forming stage as everyone wants someone to build or design their mvp but if you’re a non technical person have no fear you’ll get just as much out of the weekend.
Startup Weekend is as much about idea validation and learning how to take an idea from a random thought through to validation as much as building something. A killer pitch is really an idea with a defined and reachable market, a well thought out business case, a great looking slide deck and an MVP. How you decide to define all those is up to you.
So make the most of your time by learning from your team-mates, mentors and speakers and you’ll be making the most of what a great weekend has to offer. It’s not the destination that matters it’s the journey!