I can’t count how many times I’ve heard, “I have an idea…” or “what if…”. Unfortunately, most of the time, it stops there. You get back to your life, caught up in the day to day challenges of just getting through your regular routine. You realize that as much as you love your idea, even if you had most of the skills needed to implement it, you would have to give up too much of your most valuable asset to make it happen: time. Yet occasionally, once in a while in spite of all that, we see ideas and “what if’s” turn into something real. In fact, every once in a great while, they even change the world. How does this happen?
As the Founder of a tech startup in Houston, I ask myself this question on a regular basis. What is the blueprint for success? What are the key ingredients to really making it work? The stories from idea to success are as varied as the ideas themselves. However, there is one key ingredient in every story without exception. Any guesses? The answer is so obvious, we often overlook it. People.
You can’t get around it, and there are no exceptions. I’m a big fan of project-based learning (learning by doing), and one thing we all know is that to get good at any team sport takes practice. Not just practice on your own, but practice playing with an actual team.
Playing with others is a very different dynamic than just sharpening your individual skills. It isn’t just working together, it’s defining roles, getting a feel for your own strengths and weaknesses, and finding inspiration through contributing and furthering the objectives of the whole. It’s learning when to pass the ball. It’s being “in the zone.”
Yet, there’s no real outlet for this when it comes to growing innovative ideas. We have lots of talented and skilled people, no doubt about it, but where can you go to get that kind of practice and experience to formulate a new idea and make it into something by working together with others? How do you get practice on a team? It’s almost like being a musician when you’re not in a group. Where do you go to play in an actual band?
Now there’s an opportunity. In Startup Weekend Education, a non-profit initiative of Education Entrepreneurs and Up Global, participants from all walks of life come together for one weekend to pitch individual ideas that help solve problems and improve outcomes for learning, and then everyone votes collectively to choose the most popular ones.
Teams of people with complimentary skill sets are then formed around each chosen idea. Each team works together to develop a business plan, go to market strategy, presentation, and demo or prototype of the product or service, and then refines their story and pitch. All this happens in 54 hours, with the help of some of the community’s most experienced experts, entrepreneurs and mentors in education and innovation coaching the teams.
The event ends with a pitch competition on Sunday evening, with top education innovation investors, influencers, and leaders in Houston acting as judges. In fact, just having so many representatives from the local startup and education communities all in one place is in and of itself a rare opportunity.
What’s even more amazing though, is that Houston is not alone. The participants at this Houston event will actually be kicking off the largest startup competition in the world: Global Startup Battle. This event takes place worldwide in over 250 cities from November 14th-24th, and all Startup Weekend Education participants are automatically included. That means that everyone who participates in Houston Startup Weekend Education will also be competing globally for amazing prizes, including ringing the bell at NASDAQ. Now that’s cool!
Join us January 16th – 18th and meet other passionate health innovators working on disruptive startups!
Fresh off the Energizing Health event sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, and featuring “painpoints” from MD Anderson, Texas Children’s Hospital, Memorial Hermann, the NASA funded National Space Biomedical Research Institute, the health startup community is gathering together to innovate.
We had companies from all over the nation come to Houston to pitch their existing innovations, but with the Startup Weekend Houston: Health Edition we’re going to solve some of those same problems with local innovators.
Stay tuned for more info – we’ll blog more and promote through local startup groups about the event starting in early November!
Houston Startup Weekend Education
November 14-16th, 2014
Startup Weekend EDU is a 54-hour experiential learning event for anyone who is interested in innovating and contributing ideas to improve education, set to take place on the weekend of 11/14-11/16 at the Houston Technlogy Center’s Midtown location. The event is for entrepreneurs, teachers, designers, techies, parents, students, and whoever else wants to contribute to solve problems in education and improve outcomes.
When it comes to understanding the challenges facing our educational system, who is more informed than the teachers who face these obstacles with their home-grown solutions on a daily basis? Unfortunately, teachers are often so taxed by the immediate needs of their own students that they rarely have the time or resources to bring their solutions to scale. Software developers and designers, on the other hand, have incredible talent for creating digital solutions. However, they, like all artists, need a worthwhile project to ignite their passion. What if these two groups could join forces in Houston? This is the idea. In fact, let’s not leave out the parents, and the students themselves who are also directly affected.
The concept: Have you ever had an idea for improving education? Here’s your opportunity to transform your education ideas into action in 54 hours. Find the right people with complementary skills & the passion & dedication to build an education product in one weekend. Design for learning, conduct user tests, receive coaching from experienced education designers & industry professionals, and win prizes & work together to help take your idea to the next level.
The event: We bring together a diverse group of people all over Houston who are passionate about making a positive impact on education. In 54 hours, participants share ideas, form teams, design products and launch education startups. Startup Weekend EDU begins with open-mic 60-second pitches on Friday night that result in the formation of small teams around the best, most viable education concepts. Teams spend Saturday and Sunday focusing on user research, customer development, validating their ideas and building prototypes with the help of experienced coaches from the education market. On Sunday, teams demo their education products and receive valuable feedback from a panel of expert judges.
Houston Startup Weekend Education
November 14-16th, 2014
Feel free to email us at Houstonedu@startupweekend.org with any questions.