We came, we learned, we built, but mostly we had fun. This was my first Startup Weekend after finally having an open weekend at the same time and I’d hoped it was going to be as good as previous feedback had suggested. Thankfully it turned out to be even better.
Before I start rambling on about my first startup weekend it goes without saying that these events don’t organise themselves and all the organisers, mentors, speakers and sponsors deserve special mentions for putting together what was a great weekend. It’s no easy task and they’re giving up their time to create a great event and they did a splendid job indeed.
For the uninitiated the premise is simple, gather a bunch of people who are interested in starting businesses, solving the world’s problems or just building stuff together. Everyone who has an idea gets up and pitches their idea to the masses, votes on the best, splits into teams to work on those ideas over the weekend and pitches the final products on the Sunday
What’s not to like? Cloistering yourself away for a weekend with a bunch of other smart people in the confines of google HQ to see what can be achieved if you work on an idea over the space of a single weekend. As it turns out, you can achieve a hell of a lot!
I arrived Friday evening a little bit late as I was coming from the airport and there was a big crowd milling about feasting on the typical startup event sustenance of pizza and beer. If it’s your first Startup Weekend I’d advise you to arrive early and talk to as many people as you can about their idea or your idea that you’ll be pitching. If you’re pitching an idea it’s good to get some awareness out there already and you’ll start getting people interested in your idea. It’s also pretty difficult to remember so many pitches so any recognition you have at this stage is good.
So after some getting to know people and a few beers it’s time for an intro and some pitches. Pitches are short and you really need to be able to communicate your idea in as short a time as possible so go for the trusty “Here’s a problem and here’s how I’m going to solve it”. If your idea is interesting and the pitch resonates with people then hopefully you’ll get enough votes. The ideas ranged from a solution to clean up oceans to a interactive voting system for nightclub music.
I pitched a marketplace for getting jobs like cleaning and delivery done for people that didn’t have the time, one that I came up with the previous week while lamenting the need for ironing and having no clue where to find someone who might take away my need to complete this arduous task! And yes if that’s the most major of my problems in life then things aren’t too bad.
After pitches everyone votes on their favourites and as with meeting people at the start it’ll do you good to get out there and canvas for peoples votes. It’s difficult enough to be memorable amongst over 50 ideas so there’s no harm in being vocal about reminding people what it is you’re doing again.
After the best get chosen it’s all about creating the teams. Alas my job marketplace idea didn’t make the cut and I joined up with Conor Mulloy who was gathering a team aiming to be the surveymonkey of competitions. I’d talked with Conor prior to the pitches, we’d talked about some of the data aggregation that I had done previously and I’d said I would join his team if my idea didn’t go anywhere. So it’s definitely useful to talk to as many people as you can beforehand, you might find an interesting idea or person to work with.
Conor pulled together a great team with quite a few developers and business minds and off we set on the journey to revolutionise the world of competition creation, though not before a few pints were consumed prior to heading home on the Friday night.
It matters. Diversity does. 365 days a year we do our best to make a real contribution to the tech community and on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of November we are going to aim to do the same. But we need your help. We have done our best when it comes to organisers, judges, speakers and mentors and at this particular time, our list is pretty balanced. We are yet to announce the final list of Startup Weekend Dublin contributors but right now we are at 50/50. And the balance won’t really shift much. If at all.
We have contacted most of the diversity focused entities that we know within tech and asked them to help us out: DigiWomen, Coding Grace, PyLadies, Girl Geek Dinners, WITS and Askaton. We spoke to some of the influencers within the larger corporations and asked them to support us internally and spread the word. And now we are asking for your help. Passive inclusion is simply not enough.
It is crucial to say that we recognise the importance of gender balance and diversity and it is this space of real diversity that we are passionately chasing.
How can you help? It’s simple really: think about Startup Weekend for a moment – is there a woman in your life, a friend, sister, partner or a colleague who would find the experience interesting, useful or fun?
All we want is to connect people who are passionate about this space. Or curious about it. Thank you.
The Startup Weekend Dublin Team
Galway is becoming a global tech hub with a focus around the ICT (software/hardware/Internet) and biotech segments. Tech startups like OnePageCRM, Ex Ordo, Element Wave, Duolog, Netfort, BuilderEngine, Pocket Anatomy (winner of The Next Web top startup award), Mission Possible, Altocloud, SpamTitan, RealSim, Tribal City Interactive and Alison.com are in close proximity to larger companies like DigitalOptics Corporation, Cisco, HP, Avaya, SAP, IBM and EA.
At Technology Voice, and inspired by Dublin Tech Town, we’re delighted to bring you the first version of our Galway Tech Map that shows at least part of the vibrant tech ecosystem in Galway. And if your organisation isn’t on the map, you can download a copy and create your own version as we have released it under theCreative Commons By Attribution Share Alike license. [Available in SVG, PNG, PDF, PDF A4, EPS and AIformats.]
Galway is also home to a range of biotech and medtech companies including Algae Health, Anecto, Apica, Boston Scientific, Cappella Medical, Creganna, Crospon, Full Health Medical, Lake Region Medical, Medtronic, neoSurgical, Neuravi, Novate Medical and Veryan Medical. (We are hoping that someone will take our map and make a new version highlighting the impressive biomedical/health/devices sector in Galway.)
Galway is a small city; there are at last count around 76,000 residents in the urban area. It is small enough that you can get your mind around the whole place but big enough to be interesting. The National University of Ireland Galway is located right in the middle of town, and the 19,000 students, faculty, and staff comprise about 25 percent of the population of Galway. Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology accounts for an additional 7,500 students in the city.
The presence of several national research labs, including the Insight Centre for Data Analytics (formerly DERI) and the Irish Marine Institute, adds nicely to the number of PhDs and researchers around.
Essentially, Galway is a college town, full of smart, independently-minded and intellectually-curious people.
This November, Startup Weekend is coming to Galway. From the 14th to the 16th, teams of entrepreneurs and innovators will gather together to develop their ideas from an initial 60 second pitch to a scalable company. 54 hours of activity will culminate in a round of presentations to the assembled judges, mentors, and other teams, leaving attendees with valuable feedback on their ideas, new skills, great contacts, and hopefully, a viable startup business. With 36% of Startup Weekend startups not only continuing after the weekend, but through the three month mark, taking part is a great initial step for anyone with an idea.
Startup Weekends have taken place all across the world, including in Dublin and Cork, with Galway joining in for the first time in November.
The first Galway Startup Weekend will be held on the NUI Galway campus, and is being organised by a team of local entrepreneurs and college lecturers. John Breslin and Michael Campion (Nuig), Tara Dalrymple (Busy Lizzie and Mission Possible), Paul Killoran (ExOrdo) and Michael Fitzpatrick (OnePageCRM).
Startup Weekend is all about action, giving attendees the chance to test out an idea in a creative space. People will share their skills and form teams, with mentors on hand with guidance throughout the weekend. The 54 hours of hard work will be interspersed with meals, short talks, and some surprises along the way.
Galway Startup Weekend offers the perfect opportunity to test out a business idea, learn valuable skills , or simply collaborate with similarly focused people.