What happens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday?
Friday: Participants arrive between 5-7 PM, begin networking, and eat dinner. After an ice-breaking game and a short introduction by the Facilitator, there will typically be 1 short speaker talk on practical topics ranging from Pitching Best Practices to Lean Startup Methodology and more. Then the “Pitchfire” will commence: anyone intending to pitch will have 60 seconds to give their best pitch. No presentations or props needed for Friday, it will just be you and a mic. After pitches are finished, all attendees will vote on their favorites, and using these votes the top ideas will be selected to be worked on over the weekend. Teams will form organically, consolidate, and begin working.
Saturday: Teams will work all day, with the occasional breaks to eat or listen to 1-2 short talks. Coaches will be circulating to provide advice in the field of their expertise for those teams that want it.
Sunday: Teams will work uninterrupted from morning until mid-afternoon. They’ll begin wrapping up their product/prototype and presentation around 3-4 PM to do tech-checks and practice their demonstration. After all Judges have arrived presentations will begin. Each team typically has 5 minutes plus 2-3 minutes Q&A from the judges (this varies occasionally.) The judges will select the top teams, give out prizes (if applicable), and the event ends (and celebration begins!)
What types of ideas can I pitch?
Any business ideas are eligible (whether for profit, ‘social’ businesses, nonprofit organizations, etc.), however the event is strongly tech-oriented. Approximately 95% of all ideas are mobile or web focused, and given the short time-frame, we strongly recommend that even non-tech ideas focus on a tech-related deliverable (i.e., website) by Sunday.
Can I pitch more than one idea?
Depending on the number of ideas pitched and the schedule, you may or may not be able to pitch multiple ideas. Prioritize your ideas: pitch your best idea (and the one you have most prepared for) first.
Can I pitch my existing business?
No. Startup Weekend is designed to be the most effective platform for growing new businesses from the ground up over the course of a weekend. A key facet of the weekend – and a central value for participants – is the spirit of complete collaboration, buy-in, and ownership. We’ve found that having existing businesses in the mix undermines this spirit, in addition to creating an imbalance between those ideas that are truly ground-level.
How do I protect against people stealing my idea?
The short answer is that you can’t. If you’re very concerned, you can limit your pitch to the rough outline of the idea without giving away key information.The longer answer is that this is not something worth worrying about. Unless you are confident your idea is a ‘key-in-hand’, easy-to-implement innovation that hasn’t been thought of yet, the advantages gained from getting broad-based feedback and a strong team motivated by collective ownership far outweigh the remote risks of someone stealing and executing on your idea. The truth is that over 90% of ideas pitched at any given Startup Weekend have already been pitched – probably many times – in the past. This doesn’t imply that the idea isn’t a good one, but rather that what truly matters is how well you and your team execute the idea. “One can steal ideas, but no one can steal execution or passion”
What if my idea doesn’t get selected?
The purpose of the Friday voting and crowdsourcing isn’t to exclude certain ideas, but simply to highlight the most popular and high-potential pitches and end up with a manageable number of teams – ensuring that each team has a variety of backgrounds and skills. If your idea isn’t selected but you’ve formed a team around the idea, you’re welcome to work on it over the weekend. If you decide to do so, however, please tell the event Organizer, as this may be an issue regarding your teams’ eligibility for prizes.
Am I expected to work for 54 hours?
No. At some events, certain teams will decide to work all through Friday and/or Saturday night, but this is by no means obligatory or expected. Whether or not you are allowed to work at the venue at night depends on the venue’s opening hours – please ask your local Organizer.
What resources/assistance is provided over the weekend?
A key part of every Startup Weekend is the valuable advice and assistance provided by the event’s Speakers and Coaches. In the spirit of “No Talk, All Action” we try to keep talks short and sweet, focusing on practical issues (i.e. “how to give a persuasive pitch”, “best approaches to customer validation”) that can actually help you and your team better achieve your weekend goals. Mentors – community experts in various fields ranging from entrepreneurship, software development, marketing, finance, law, and more – dedicate their time to providing advice and actually rolling up their sleeves and working with teams. In addition to the most valuable resources at the weekend (the people), we’ve also put together a list of some of the most useful resources in all startup-related fields, for both before, during, and after the weekend. Check out startupweekend.org/resources for more info.
How do teams address the issue of Intellectual Property/ownership?
As with any startup, the team decides. Startup Weekend doesn’t support or take part in the signing of any legal documents at the events themselves, and while Mentors with legal backgrounds are often present and able to give general advice, they are not permitted to give specific legal counsel. While it doesn’t hurt to be clear about your individual expectations from the start, we’ve found that teams who don’t spend time addressing this issue until it actually matters (i.e., there is a tangible product to have ownership of) are much more productive and successful than those who do.
What are we supposed to have accomplished by the end of the weekend?
While there are no specific requirements in terms of what teams should have accomplished by Sunday, it’s in your best interest to plan your execution around what you’ll be judged for on Sunday:
• Customer Validation (did you vet your business?)
• Execution and Design (what did you build?)
• Business Model (do you have a plan for the future?)
As far as presenting goes, some of the most common presentations include any combination of the following (in no particular order):
• Wireframes or fully developed website;
• Mobile Apps (from mock-ups to skeletons to fully functional)
• Slide decks (Powerpoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.)
• Videos (i.e. product demonstrations, etc.)
• Live product demos
Why is it a competition?
Competition is not a central theme of Startup Weekend, and this is often reflected in the broad, horizontal allocation of prizes and general flexibility/leniency of the event ‘rules.’ If and when the competitive aspect comes into conflict with the positive atmosphere we try to cultivate, we consistently choose the latter. We do believe, however, that friendly competition is beneficial to all parties and, most importantly, more accurately reflects the realities of startup life. Just as it’s important to gather ‘real-world’ feedback over the weekend, it’s also important to have real-world pressures and obstacles.