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Startup Weekend Maui Kicks Off This Friday!

Only 7 days until Startup Weekend Maui kicks off on Friday, May 15th!  For those who will be participating, here’s some helpful Q&A to prepare for your 54-hour adventure.

What should I bring to a Startup Weekend?

Whatever you need to get your ideas going should be tucked inside your Startup Weekend bag. You’ll need a laptop (if you have one), some writing materials (you’ll find them useful once you start the brainstorming process), your business cards (you need to build your network!), a camera (you need to document everything!), and of course, a lot of positive and creative energy.

What kind of preparations should I be doing?

Doing a little research on how to make the most of the SW will help. A little background information about startup tools will also help. Check out http://startupweekend.org/resources/ for resources that might be of use to you.

If you plan to pitch an idea, get some researching done so you can come up with an interesting, persuasive, and creative pitch that will easily get the attention of people. You have to keep in mind that your primary goal is to attract a team and make them believe in your idea in a matter of seconds. Practicing your pitch (no visual aids, please!) will also greatly help.

What are the activities on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday?

Friday starts with the registration and arrival of participants. This is usually followed by a little time for networking, where you get to mingle with co-participants and guests (mentors, business leaders, and coaches). Most Startup Weekends normally have an ice breaker game before the introduction. Then the pitches will follow.

Saturday is when the teams actually get together to work and come up with the results they desire. Coaches will be moving around to observe ad offer advice to teams. There’ll be breaks for short talks and meals.

Sunday is judgment day. Teams will have the morning until mid-afternoon to work on their products/prototypes. They’ll have time to prepare and practice their demonstration before the actual presentation in front a panel of judges. At the end of the day – and the Startup Weekend – the judges will have chosen the top teams. Prizes are normally given to the winners.

Is there a criteria for the ideas that can be pitched?

No. As long as your idea is workable, it will be eligible. It is important to take note, however, that Startup Weekends are basically tech-oriented and majority of the ideas are focused or related to the web or the mobile industry. Non-tech ideas that focus on a tech-related deliverable are welcome and even highly recommended.

I already have a business, can I pitch it to the participants?

The main aim of every Startup Weekend is to develop and launch new businesses over a period of 54 hours. It is also intended to imbibe the spirit of teamwork through collaboration. If pitching existing businesses is allowed, this purpose will be defeated.

Does the Startup Weekend require us to work non-stop for 54 hours?

No. Your schedule will be dependent on your team. There are teams that prefer to work throughout Friday and Saturday, but there are others that take breaks, too. The event organizer also has a say on this issue, especially in terms of using the venue at night.

What Happens After Startup Weekend?

After a 54-hour weekend spend brainstorming and launching projects, a lot of Startup Weekend (SW) graduates pretty much go back to the daily grind. They go back to work or school and continue to deal with whatever life has throws their way. Many, however, keep in touch with their SW teams and continue what they started.

If you want to keep the momentum going after the Startup Weekend, here are some tips you can follow.

Stay in touch with your team.

The Startup Weekend is an opportunity to meet like-minded people and create a network. You have countless opportunities to build relationships with your teammates. After SW, you should keep this network alive by scheduling regular meetings – not necessarily business-related ones all the time. You can watch movies and go out for dinner as a group. You can even go out-of-town together. Just make sure that you continue to meet and update each other. These get-togethers can lead to business opportunities and will help keep the momentum live, enough for your startup to continue taking shape.

One of the aims of Startup Weekend is to bring like-minded people together and encourage them to share ideas. This should continue long after the SW is done.

Stay in touch with your coaches/mentors.

You should be continuously in touch with those who coached and mentored you. Find time to meet with them so you can update each other. Remember that these people have contacts and can help you further develop the network you started during the SW. Again, don’t limit your meetings to business appointments; try to go out for beer or for a game of golf.

Keep your zest for learning.

Just because the Startup Weekend is done doesn’t mean you can stop stocking up on new knowledge! Your quest for learning should continue long after the last hour of the SW. Find time to learn more about the basics of entrepreneurship and startup businesses.

One of the advantages of keeping in touch with your teammates, coaches, and mentors is that you get to share ideas and exchange additional avenues of learning. There are a lot of opportunities for growth and learning, and this can only mean good things for your SW endeavors and projects.

Discover and explore.

For your project to reach its target potential, you need to keep studying the consumer market. You and your team should communicate with your potential clients. Discover what you need to do to satisfy them and explore the options available so you and your team can present your project with positive results.

Participate in other Startup Weekend events.

Your first SW experience should not be your last. Your first pitch should be followed by another. There is no rule against joining as many SWs as possible! If you can’t find one in your area or city, explore your options in neighboring places. You’re sure to find one eventually.

Continuously joining Startup Weekend events will practice you and hone your skills. Pretty soon, you’ll have all the confidence you need to develop and launch a startup.

Don’t forget to have fun!

Creating and launching a startup business or project does not mean you’ll have to work well into the night or the weekends. You and your team should find time for fun. The Startup Weekend may be an intense 54-hour brainstorming session, but it is also an event that’s full of fun and surprises. If you want your startup project to succeed, learn to integrate elements of fun and surprise into practically everything that you do.

The Startup Weekend does not stop after the 54-hour intense sessions of pitching, planning, developing, and launching a project. It’s a continuous journey that offers countless benefits and rewards to those who are determined about their goals and visions.

Good luck on your journey!

Gerald Smith