Is Startup Weekend For Me?

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Guest post by Andy Stoll: After hearing the question ‘Is Startup Weekend for me?’ over and over, he wanted to share his perspective. Andy is a serial social entrepreneur and co-founder of Seed Here Studio, Vault Coworking and Collaboration Space and The Iowa Startup Accelerator. He is also a global facilitator for Startup Weekend.

I encourage a lot of people to attend Startup Weekend, especially those who are curious about entrepreneurship and startups. One of the most common reasons people tell me why they CANNOT attend Startup Weekend comes in a few variations, but is essentially getting at the same thing. Their doubts usually manifest themselves in reasons such as, “Well, I’m not an entrepreneur or a business person,” or “I don’t know how to code, design or build websites,” or “I don’t really have any ideas to pitch.”

The real concerns that they are often getting at are: 1) I am a novice, is it still really for me? 2) If I go and don’t know anything (or anybody), will everyone know that (and call me out as a fraud!)?

A big secret that entrepreneurs don’t often tell you is that every single entrepreneur, business owner and startup founder has, at some point, felt that they were not qualified, not prepared, and not ready to do what they wanted to do (and worried they’d be called out at any time as a “fraud”).

This struggle defines the journey of every entrepreneur: overcoming anxiety, charting a course through haunting feelings of uncertainty, persevering in the face of self-doubt. You can’t learn these skills from a book or a class, you can only learn them by facing the fears.

All entrepreneurs eventually learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable (at least most of the time), and for those that do, the rewards are immense: growth, fulfillment, self-actualization, the satisfaction that comes from building a team and the joy of turning something in your head into a real thing…

The journey is long, but it is, in the end, the reward.

Startup Weekend is designed to be a first step on that journey, the first chance to dip your toe into the water of entrepreneurship and making your ideas happen. It is designed for EVERYONE to attend. I’ve seen people as young as 11 participate and as old as 84. I’ve seen grill cooks, accountants, corporate CEO’s, skateboarders, veterans, moms, retired school teachers, kids and ministers participate.

Maybe you don’t code, design, or “have ideas” (though secretly everyone has ideas), that’s ok because there will be others there that do. Everyone has a skill that they will contribute to a team, whether its writing, leading, interviewing, cheerleading, pats on the back, drawing, researching or a plethora of other things needed for each team to succeed—everyone and anyone has something to contribute to a Startup Weekend team (and often times at Startup Weekend you’ll discover skills you never realized you had!).

Startup Weekend is designed to simulate the entrepreneurial journey in an incredibly condensed 54-hour period. It is, in my view, the single best way to try entrepreneurship with essentially no risk, to go down the path and see what it feels like. Feels is the operative word.

If you have doubts about attending, you’re nervous and worried that you are “not ready,” maybe you have butterflies in your stomach. That’s the first sign you are on the right path.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Hope to see you at Startup Weekend!

To buy tickets to Startup Weekend Iowa City please visit our Eventbrite page.

Iowa City too far away? There will be FIVE Startup Weekends in Iowa Nov 20th – 22nd. Find one close to you at http://swia.co/.








Five Startup Weekends coming to Iowa in November

Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2015.
Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2015.

Startup Weekend has been in Iowa since 2009, touching hundreds of lives, but for the first time community builders from across the state are collaborating to bring multiple events to fruition at once.

Five Startup Weekends will happen Nov. 20-22 in Iowa, including Council Bluffs, Ames, Cedar Falls, Iowa City (that’s us!) and the Quad Cities.

As organizers, we’re thrilled by the chance to increase connections and opportunities across the state. For this special collaboration, teams will be able to videoconference with mentors from across the state and learn alongside more fellow entrepreneurs.

Some background: Startup Weekend is an exciting event that begins with participants pitching ideas on Friday evening, and then forming teams around the most promising concepts. These teams spend the weekend creating a business model, developing prototypes and seeking their first customers. The event culminates with presentations to a panel of local judges and mentors Sunday night.

Several notable Iowa startups have found their initial idea at Startup Weekend, including:

  • CareDrop, a support network for non-professional caregivers nationwide and current participant in the Iowa Startup Accelerator (Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2015)
  • Fanstreamm, a mobile sports ticketing application and graduate of the NMotion Accelerator (Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2014)
  • Goquets, a quick and easy way to order beautiful flowers and current participant in the Iowa Startup Accelerator (Startup Weekend Ames 2013)
  • NextStep.io, a health tech startup that pairs fitness tracker data with health coaching and graduate of Techstars (Startup Weekend Iowa City 2011)

These five cities will also be part of the Global Startup Battle, happening in 200 cities around the world during Global Entrepreneurship Week. The winning teams from each city’s event will compete in a global video pitch challenge to see who created the best new idea.

Long story short: You want to be there.

Get your ticket today!








The next generation of Startup Weekend Founders

Startup Weekend has touched the lives of hundreds of people in the Corridor the past few years. And now, we want to spread that impact even farther.

Remember walking into the doors of your first Startup Weekend? Coming in not knowing what you’ve gotten yourself into. Being overwhelmed by a large reception area filled to the max with people just as crazy as you, all ready to build the best big thing together. Remember putting your heart and soul into this one idea with a team of builders the whole weekend? Then when Sunday night came you presented your new business to an audience and wanted so badly to take home first place. All the amazing people you met, all the beneficial lessons you learned, all the experience you gained….

…want to give that experience to someone else?

As a past participant of Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids or Startup Weekend Iowa City, you are now a “Friend of Startup Weekend”. And now, we need your help to support the next generation of Startup Weekend founders.

What you can help do:


We <3 Startup Weekend. We want to share this great experience with everyone in the Corridor. See you November 20 – 22 in downtown Iowa City.








Startup Weekend coming to Bluffs later this month

<<Article by the Daily Nonpareil>>

Acceleration is the name of the game for the upcoming Startup Weekend, an event at Iowa Western Community College inviting entrepreneurs to launch a startup in 54 hours.

Scheduled for July 31 through Aug. 2, the weekend event is modeled off a series that has been hosted worldwide tailored to assisting entrepreneurs with vetting ideas and creating new businesses.

The event is sponsored by the Iowa Western Small Business Development Center and The Port, the college’s entrepreneurial center in Ashley Hall. Both organizations assist businesses and offer programming to foster economic development.

Jennifer Kalstrup, the assistant director of the Iowa Western SBDC, said individuals and teams are welcome to sign up for the event. Each person will give a 60-second pitch of an idea, and the best will be selected for teams to be built around as part of the weekend’s activities.

Participants will be organized around their strengths, Kalstrup said, and they will work together to build businesses from scratch, looking at all the aspects of a startup “just super accelerated into 54 hours,” she said.

Startup Weekend’s organizing group, UP Global, was recently acquired by Techstars. The events have been held across the world, including elsewhere in Iowa and in Omaha. Kalstrup said this was the first time for Council Bluffs, though.

The plan is to offer Startup Weekend on an occasional basis, just like the Venture School program through the University of Iowa. She said the hope is to bring back the Venture School sometime this winter, although no date has been set.

People should sign up for Startup Weekend for the experience of vetting ideas quickly, Kalstrup said. Sometimes the best ideas can come from being under pressure, and entrepreneurs can piggyback off each other’s brainstorming.

“It will be a hotbed for all different sorts of entrepreneurs and want-to-be entrepreneurs,” she said, adding that networking is another important consideration for those attending along with the possibility of prizes.

Judges – including founders of startups and current CEOs of area businesses – will evaluate presentations, and awards will be presented at the end of the weekend. Coaches will include similar business professionals, educators as well as representatives of Iowa Western’s The Port entrepreneurial center and the University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

Tickets to the event are $50. Sessions on July 31 and Aug. 1 meet at Looft Hall, while Aug. 2 sessions are held at the Arts Center. All sessions are located in Iowa Western’s Council Bluffs campus.

For more information, including a schedule and registration details, visit inyurl.com/iwccstartupweekend. More on Startup Weekend in general can be found at startupweekend.org.

 








Startup Weekend Stories: Eric and the super side project

Startup Weekend Stories: Memories, reflections and lessons learned from Startup Weekend events in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, Iowa. 

Today we meet Eric Bailey, a designer, photographer, and front-end web developer. Eric is currently living and working in New York, but this story dates to Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2014. An idea that was a “super side project” (read: never gonna happen during work hours) for Sculpt finally got off the ground during Startup Weekend.

Then, that idea blew up. To date, Startup Stock Photos averages 50,000 pageviews per month and has been featured by the likes of Mashable, INC, The Next Web, and Entrepreneur. This is Eric’s recap. (Originally published on ericbailey.co, more via Sculpt.)

Eric, the creator of Startup Stock Photos, as featured in a Startup Stock Photo.
Eric, the creator of Startup Stock Photos, as featured in a Startup Stock Photo.

 

Free stock photo sites are all the rage right now. Sites like Unsplash andLittle Visuals are bookmarked on my Chrome – I use them for everything. Like the open source movement, getting higher quality assets into the hands of people that are creating online is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

At Sculpt, I take a lot of photos, and we work with a lot of startups. So it was a serious joke when my CEO, Josh, and I were working late one night and he suggested I start a stock photo site.

“Call it Startup Stock Photos.”

“Okay. That sounds fun.”

So I bought the domain.

Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids was a week or so after that night. Between covering the event via social (Twitter/Facebook) and participating on a team, I set up a Tumblr and started uploading photos to the domain startupstockphotos.com.

And the response has been amazing. The site bounced around our regional networks for a few months before the fantastic startup community we have here in Iowa got wind of it. Huge thanks to Megan at Silicon Prairie News for her write-up, as well as Sarah over at We Create Here and Geoff at Welch Avenue.

It’s a constant joy to see my photos on other sites, and used by so many different people and companies.

Josh adds: “Because we love supporting startups. Because we hated the pictures writers licensed for their articles. Because we love bringing the Iowa startup community to the rest of the world.”

Here are a few examples – many more at startupstockphotos.com.

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Find the next Startup Weekend in Iowa at swia.co!








Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2015: Meet the teams

Our 2015 facilitator, Max Farrell, corralled more than 40 ideas Friday night. Photo by Sculpt - find more on Facebook at facebook.com/SWCedarRapids
Our 2015 facilitator, Max Farrell, corralled more than 40 ideas Friday night. Photo by Sculpt – find more on Facebook at facebook.com/SWCedarRapids

The flurry of activity that happened Friday night – food, drink, games, pitches, and lots of post-its – has faded as ideas have come to the forefront. The teams of Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2015 are hard at work.

Teams got to know each other Friday night (Photo via Braden Kopf on Twitter)
Teams got to know each other Friday night (Photo via Braden Kopf on Twitter)

Saturday is largely about learning and answering questions – do you understand the problem to be solved? Really? Do you know what customers have that problem? Have you talked to them? And sometimes, the best learning moment is knowing when to walk away. “Our original idea, we invalidated immediately because of heavy competition, and our team wasn’t having any fun. It was bad,” said Brian Rupert, who worked on a team called Lunch Line before starting a totally new idea. “We switched ideas, and it switched the whole mood of the team – everyone is having fun, and contributing and being active. We can see the change, we can see the benefits.” Names, pitches and teams may change again and again before the weekend is over, but here are the ideas, as of now:

Career and Company

We talked to: Julie Troendle, an independent personal trainer The idea: Letting employers and potential employees “date” to see if they’d be a good fit. “It’s almost like a dating app for careers or jobs. Which means you’re not necessarily looking for the job you’re going to be with for the rest of your life, but looking at what you might want to be doing in the future.” Goal/challenge for the weekend: Coming together as a team – “It feels like we’re everywhere right now…Figuring out who we’re targeting, and exactly what problem we’re solving.” Personal growth moment: Being an introvert in a high-energy, close-quarters events. “That’s why I’m here, I wanted to learn about myself and how I would handle it.”

CoffeePot

We talked to: Brian Rupert, a web designer and developer The idea: “Using digital registration to make setup and collaboration at 1 Million Cups events better.” The team wants to prove the idea with a community event they know and regularly attend – 1MC – before moving to other events. Goal/challenge for the weekend: Getting a late start – this team spent Friday night working on a completely different idea called Lunch Line. They are working on customer discovery and hope to have a few features ready to test by Wednesday’s 1 Million Cups. Personal growth moment: Balancing a few different goals – Rupert is working on customer discovery, the vision, building the product and mentoring another team member. “Just making sure the vision is clear across the whole team. Just constantly verifying that we’re all on the same page. And since the experience Friday wasn’t super great, just making sure everyone is happy, and making sure everyone is doing what they want to do.”

Empower

We talked to: Stone McNamara, a high school junior at Cedar Rapids Washington and Iowa BIG The idea: “Empower is a platform for people to anonymously post what they need encouragement on, what they need support on.” Negative comments are filtered out by the community before reaching the original poster. Goal/challenge for the weekendThe tech side – the team of 3.5 (one person has to leave midway through the weekend) hopes to launch a website tonight and an app before the final pitches tomorrow. Personal growth moment: “I’ve definitely been more vocal – during BIG I’ve been told I don’t really talk that much. Here it’s an open work space, you feel comfortable sharing your ideas…Everyone has the same goal. Even though we’re in competition, no one is unwilling to help anyone else in their journey.”

Family Caregiver Service

We talked to: Connor Schulte of NextStep.io The idea: “The process of being a caregiver for someone with a chronic illness is really difficult – we’re trying to come up with a solution.” Goal/challenge for the weekend: Really identifying the right customer segment and their problem to solve. “To hone in on one problem we want to try to solve, and develop an MVP or some kind of prototype.” Personal growth moment: Working on customer discovery – with a design and development background, Schulte has been pretty task-focused at previous Startup Weekends. “I think it’s a great experience to have – it’s very important to any business, I’m glad I get o be a part of it this time around.”

Iowa Bike Bar

We talked to: Scott Swenson, director of the Kirkwood SBDC

The idea: “Offering Cedar Rapids an active, fun activity. A group bike bar – a  mobile bar with six seats, a driver, it’s interactive.”

Goal/Challenge for the weekend: “We hope to have validated a need – is this a product-market fit for Cedar Rapids. And validate, perhaps, a pricing model.” Bikes like this are available but they may design their own.

Personal growth moment: “I can pick up and learn things form the other coaches and mentors. I’m trying to improve my own coaching. Each one can have different input, which sometimes conflicts, and that’s ok. – it gives you that different way of looking at things.”

Perfect Night 

We talked to: Rebecca Sullens – Cornell college career advisor The idea: “Helping people find options for a night out.” Simple as that. While the original idea had to do with dating, the project isn’t just for couples anymore. Goal/challenge for the weekend: “Identifying the biggest pain point – generating and creating the method to survey people….How much do we want to start a business, or how much do we want to identify a problem that needs to be fixed, and start trying to fix it.” Personal growth moment: Switching teams mid-morning after the Lunch Line idea fell apart. “Changing your mind…finding a project you can commit to as it evolves, and finding out how to work with people when everybody has big ideas, and everyone wants to work together.”

PrepIt

We talked to: Mike Clancy, a teacher at Muscatine High School The idea: “Trivia crack meets the classroom. It’s targeted at AP exams. We wanted to be able to give teachers feedback on their students.” Goal/challenge for the weekend“The edtech world is inundated with products – making the message clear that our product is unique and solves a real challenge.” This team hopes to stand out through gamification and providing data to teachers. Personal growth moment: Diving headfirst into startup life. ““In my mind it’s simple – create the app, send it out – but there are a number of variables I never really considered,”

Social Runner / Fit Together

We talked to: Leon Tabak, a computer science professor at Cornell College The idea: “A lot of people like to go running – they see other people in the community, but they don’t know who they are, and they want some companionship in their activities.” Goal/challenge for the weekend: Plenty of alternatives for fitness and socialization. “There are lots of opportunities for how people could go out and solve this problem – how do we distinguish ourselves? How do we define our market more clearly?” Personal growth moment: The academic, getting a taste of entrepreneurial life. “It’s all a little bit different than getting together to do it for the experience…I’m very happy my students are here.”

Sunday Dinner 

We talked to: Jonathan Bunjer, CEO of KASA Solutions The idea: “When you have a social gathering where multiple people are involved in bringing things to the event, dealing with the logistics of that…A central place that keeps track of that information.” Goal/challenge for the weekend: Develop a working webpage and test it on a few potential customers. Personal growth moment: His own business evolved from a need, so he hasn’t done a ton of customer discovery before. “You can have a great idea, but if nobody wants to buy your great idea, you’re out of luck. That can be kind of crushing at times.”

Valor

We talked to: Madison Gingery, a senior at the University of Iowa studying marketing and entrepreneurship The idea: “A fashionable personal security bracelet that will send help at the press of a button.” Goal/challenge for the weekendThe team is working on a minimum viable product (MVP) this weekend, but Gingery is more focused on finding teammates who might want to continue on after the weekend. Personal growth moment: Gingery is passionate about the problem she is trying to solve, and did a lot of research before the weekend – so opening her idea up to other perspectives was tough. “Communication – learning how to lead a group. I haven’t had a group of smart individuals lean on me to tell them what to do.”








Is Startup Weekend for me?

@andystoll
@andystoll

Guest post by Andy Stoll: After hearing the question ‘Is Startup Weekend for me?’ over and over, he wanted to share his perspective. Andy is a serial social entrepreneur and co-founder of Seed Here Studio, Vault Coworking and Collaboration Space and The Iowa Startup Accelerator. He is also a global facilitator for Startup Weeeknd.

I encourage a lot of people to attend Startup Weekend, especially those who are curious about entrepreneurship and startups. One of the most common reasons people tell me why they CAN NOT attend Startup Weekend comes in a few variations, but is essentially getting at the same thing. Their doubts usually manifest themselves in reasons such as, “Well, I’m not an entrepreneur or a business person,” or “I don’t know how to code, design or build websites,” or “I don’t really have any ideas to pitch.” 

The real concerns that they are often getting at are: 1) I am a novice, is it still really for me? 2) If I go and don’t know anything (or anybody), will everyone know that (and call me out as a fraud!)?

A big secret that entrepreneurs don’t often tell you is that every single entrepreneur, business owner and startup founder has, at some point, felt that they were not qualified, not prepared, and not ready to do what they wanted to do (and worried they’d be called out at any time as a “fraud”).

This struggle defines the journey of every entrepreneur: overcoming anxiety, charting a course through haunting feelings of uncertainty, persevering in the face of self-doubt. You can’t learn these skills from a book or a class, you can only learn them by facing the fears.

All entrepreneurs eventually learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable (at least most of the time), and for those that do, the rewards are immense: growth, fulfillment, self-actualization, the satisfaction that comes from building a team and the joy of turning something in your head into a real thing…

The journey is long, but it is, in the end, the reward.

Startup Weekend is designed to be a first step on that journey, the first chance to dip your toe in to the water of entrepreneurship and making your ideas happen. It is designed for EVERYONE to attend. I’ve seen people as young as 11 participate and as old as 84. I’ve seen grill cooks, accountants, corporate CEO’s, skateboarders, veterans, moms, retired school teachers, kids and ministers participate. Maybe you don’t code, design, or “have ideas” (though secretly everyone has ideas), that’s ok because there will be others there that do. Everyone has a skill that they will contribute to a team, whether its writing, leading, interviewing, cheerleading, pats on the back, drawing, researching or a plethora of other things needed for each team to succeed—everyone and anyone has something to contribute to a Startup Weekend team (and often times at Startup Weekend you’ll discover skills you never realized you had!).

Startup Weekend is designed to simulate the entrepreneurial journey in an incredibly condensed 54-hour period. It is, in my view, the single best way to try entrepreneurship with essentially no risk, to go down the path and see what it feels like. Feels is the operative word.

If you have doubts about attending, you’re nervous and worried that you are “not ready,” maybe you have butterflies in your stomach. That’s the first sign you are on the right path.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Hope to see you at Startup Weekend!

Find the next Startup Weekend in Iowa at swia.co!

 








Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2015: Meet Max

Max Farrell, startup weekend organizer (photo via Create Reason)
Max Farrell, startup weekend organizer (photo via Create Reason)

Max Farrell, serial Startup Weekender and co-founder of Create Reason, will facilitate Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2015!

He’s facilitated more than a dozen high-energy weekends throughout the Midwest, and first brought Startup Weekend to Arkansas and to high schoolers.

Full-time, he’s building Create Reason, which helps existing companies create and innovate.

Oh, and he’s also a rapper and a duck hunter. Read on for more about Max:

You said in your Tedx talk that hip hop was like entrepreneurship. What is entrepreneurship like?

Hip-hop is the most entrepreneurial genre. The movement from the Bronx became this multi-billion dollar global industry and the art itself encourages a streak of entrepreneurship. It’s a build from the ground up attitude and in order to make it in music, you have to make yourself heard and gain new fans (customers). Same as in business or startups. If you’re not creating what people want and not doing what it takes to creatively get your point across, you probably won’t be successful. It’s a beautiful thing.

Describe it for us – What was your first Startup Weekend experience like? Did you know what you were getting into? What kept you coming back?

My first Startup Weekend was in Kansas City in 2011. I drove down because I was curious about entrepreneurship and it seemed like a good way to get my hands dirty in “startups.” My current business partner was in school nearby and met me there. It shook both our worlds. We realized it was possible to build something from the ground up and that we could learn quickly and immediately execute. It was a huge shift away from the college mindset of learn all the time and then get a job. I kept going back because I learned an amazing amount from creative people in various parts of the country. 

I see you facilitated the first-ever high school Startup Weekend – how was that the same or different than an “adult” version?

Young people kick ass. Adults have a lot of jadedness / cynicism, but high schoolers, when treated like equals can do amazing things. Their minds are full of curiosity/ambition and many of them have talents that could exceed that of folks that work in companies today. The format was modified a bit to focus on forming teams from specific schools to make it easier to keep projects going after the weekend. The teams also had their pitches / ideas ready ahead of time. The experience sent a shockwave through the students that participated and the faculty that saw what the students were capable of. I’m pumped to see the ripples through the state’s education system.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through your work with Startup Weekend? How have you applied it to your work with Create Reason?

Biggest lessons learned:

  • Ideas are worth acting on, not talking about
  • You can learn new things from the same process
  • People use products, not ideas. You have to create something that people can use and will pay to use. Ideas have a total value of $0
  • Execution wins the day

How I’ve applied these:

I’ve made sure to productize the offerings Create Reason can provide. It’s really tough to put things in boxes, but if people don’t know what they can buy, you can’t sell anything.

What super practical piece of advice would you give to first-timers?

For first-timers:

  • Don’t get stuck on your own ideas. Startup Weekend is about the experience, the community and learning. If your ideas aren’t selected, rally with some other folks and learn.
  • For students: please don’t tell us you have too much homework. You’ll be rubbing elbows with the parents of multiple kids and working professionals that are finding a way to make it work for the weekend, don’t come with that weak “homework” stuff.
  • No one is “above” participating. Too often I hear people say “I’m more of a mentor than a participant”. That’s bogus. I’ve seen CEOs/Founders jump in and participate in a Startup Weekend. They have a blast, wind up making great connections and learning something new themselves. 

One more thing people should know about you:

I rap good: soundcloud.com/juke-jointhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_CbmW-dBxo

I duck hunt too.








5 strategies to make your ideas happen

This post is from Andy Stoll, a social entrepreneur and media producer. He is deeply involved with the Iowa Startup Accelerator, EntreFEST, and he co-founded Seed Here Studio, a media and marketing agency dedicated to building a stronger community of entrepreneurs and creatives in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area.

Andy Stoll at EntreFEST 2014.
Andy Stoll at EntreFEST 2014.

I have spent the better part of the past decade helping entrepreneurs and creative people turn their ideas into reality–almost daily I get the question, “I have an idea, now what?”

Here are 5 strategies to get you started on turning your ideas into reality:

1. Tell a lot of people about your idea

This at first sounds counter-intuitive and is often met with the response of, “Won’t someone steal my idea?!” The truth of the matter is 98 percent of the time, you are not the first person to come up with an idea, and in most cases, your first initial idea is actually fairly crappy (because it needs sharpening). In entrepreneurship, success isn’t built on being the first to think of an idea, but it has everything to do with how well you execute and build your idea into reality. Facebook, for example, was not the first social network, just the one that executed the best.

Why tell others about your idea? Because it will make it better. The act of sharing your idea will help you get better at talking about it. When you share your idea, you’ll find that people will offer you critical feedback and often times recommend resources to move your idea along (“You should talk to my friend Dave who….”).

2. Surround yourself with other creatives and entrepreneurs

startupstockphotos.com - born at Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids.
startupstockphotos.com – born at Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids.

It has been commonly said that you “become the average of the 5 people whom you surround yourself with.” I take that to mean, “If you want to be a dancer, hang out with 5 other people who are dancers.” The same holds true if you want to be an entrepreneur.

Also, by surrounding yourself with creative and entrepreneurial people, you will learn to dream bigger and push harder, while meeting other people who may help you along your journey (and it’s often a longer journey than you expect).

3. Expose yourself to specific strategies to be innovative

In the last decade two leading methodologies have emerged to help put into words the actual process of “innovating” and making ideas happen. The Lean Startup Methodology and the Business Model Canvas are two of these strategies that are taking the startup, creative, technology and business worlds by storm (trust me, Google them), spawning books, conferences, evangelists, workshops and thousands of more successful innovative companies. The best thing about these methodologies is that they can be learned.

4. Try and fail, a lot

Also, counter to most logic, if you want to get good at making ideas happen, you first have to be bad at making ideas happen. Though I certainly don’t wish failure on anyone, failure is often the best teacher.

5. Attend a Startup Weekend

The good news is there is a single place where you could do all of these things mentioned above for very little money and very little risk! Startup Weekend is likely the single best ways for you to “try” entrepreneurship and try to make an idea happen. The risk is minimal (a little bit of money and a weekend of your time) and you will come out of it with new ideas, new friends, new knowledge, and I almost guarantee you’ll be fired up even more to take action on your ideas!

Find the next Startup Weekend in Iowa at swia.co!








Startup Weekend Stories: Sarah, new in town

Startup Weekend Stories: Memories, reflections and lessons learned from Startup Weekend events in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, Iowa. 

Today we meet Sarah Dunlap, an Iowa City transplant by way of Portland, Ore. She owns ApplePOPDesign, a web design and SEO/SEM firm. She saw Startup Weekend as a way to get plugged in to a new town: “Since I was new to the area, I thought it would be neat to meet others in the community and work on a new project.”

Sarah dunlap

 

What were your hopes and goals going into the weekend?

I wanted to meet others in the community. I also thought it would be interesting to see how others operate and see what it is like to work on a start-up project with other people. Most of the projects I’ve worked on have been solo projects.

What was the most challenging part of the weekend? Were there any unexpected moments?

I think the most challenging part is working with people you don’t know very well especially if you are new to the area. You have to figure out how to work as a team in a short amount of time. It is exciting to spend the weekend working on something and see it come together so fast. I really was surprised at the amount of work all the teams were able to accomplish in one weekend.

Advice I would give to someone before attending startup weekend:

It is important to have a direct conversation very soon after the weekend to discuss as a team how the project is going to continue.

Find the next Startup Weekend in Iowa at swia.co!