Here are some lessons from former Startup Weekend winners. Those winners share info on how they won Startup Weekend.
1. Designate a project manager from the get-go and define your methods of communication.
“Luckily, my team had a project manager who stepped up and got us organized within the first 15 minutes of getting to work. We added everyone to a Google Drive folder and created a comprehensive Google Doc to keep track of everything. We wanted to use a communication tool that everyone was familiar with and that could get the job done, quick and simple.”
2. Work backwards.
Thirty minutes into our initial discussion, our project manager interrupted our noisy chatter and asked: what’s the end goal? We stopped talking over and around one another and actually listed out our personal goals/expectations as well as went over the judging criteria in as much detail as possible. We created a road map.
3. Divide and conquer.
The first 45 minutes were rough. I honestly thought to myself, “Oh boy. I’ve never lead a team this big. I have no idea what I’m doing.” It was a nightmare trying to collaborate as a team of 8, especially with very different thinking mentalities. My team members had engineering, design, development, marketing, and finance backgrounds. This was great for collaborating, but it was also a challenge trying to get everyone on the same page.
We roughed our way through a hypothesis to the problem and then quickly divided the team based on skill set: Development/design; Business modelling and finance; and Customer validation/marketing.
4. Validate, validate, validate.
All of our features and pricing model were based on market research with our target audience. We knew it would be the key to our success so we focused our attention on it from the start. We created an online survey, approached strangers at a busy location where we knew our target audience would be and intimately interviewed 10 potential customers. It helped us paint a clearer picture of the problem we were trying to solve and how we were going to solve it (and make money doing so!).
5. Check in with your teammates.
Dividing and conquering and having a project manager to keep track of it all is great, but it’s so important to check in with your teammates. I constantly asked if they were still having fun (one of their personal goals for the weekend) and how they were feeling. Sure, this is touchy-feely and didn’t contribute to hard development, but it helped us become a unified team.
6. Take advantage of free advice, but be specific in your ask.
We requested two marketing coaches who were members of our target audience. We interviewed them and got testimonials then dove into questions about the business model. The development team requested a great coach near the end of Day 2, who showed them a WordPress theme that would make development a whole lot easier. It wasn’t that easy to transition to, but it paid off in the end and our developers learned A LOT about customizing
WordPress themes. 🙂
7. Show your team you trust them. Don’t micromanage.
I caught myself doing it on the first night. (I literally started typing on someone else’s computer, then shamed myself!). Take a leap of faith and let them take a stab at delivering. Then give them your feedback.
8. Laugh. Have fun.
When I walked by some of the groups to grab lunch, they looked so serious. We were a ‘punny’ group, and I highly encouraged any and all silliness. During crunch time, a teammate and I looked at a ‘Makes me Giggle’ Pinterest page for a minute, had a (really) good laugh, and then got back to work.
9. Be authentic.
Alice Reimer, one of the co-founders of Evoco (acquired by Accruent) gave an inspirational talk on pitching and one of her key points was to be authentic. You could tell she lived and breathed it, and she was truly inspiring. The final pitches that grabbed my attention (and stopped me from glancing at the #swyyc Twitter feed), were the ones where the founder was clearly passionate about the idea and it showed in their eyes.
10. Take care of your body: Hydrate. Eat well. And sleep, somewhat.
Drinking lots of water = lots of bathroom breaks = getting out of your chair for a brief burst of exercise. #Winning.
Don’t just stock up on the sugary treats and salty snacks. Eat lots of fruit, veggies, and get your protein. Thankfully one of our team members brought a 2lb bag of apples everyday. My dentist will be happy with the results.
Sleep is also really important. However, I can’t say I did much of it. I was running on pure adrenaline when I finished my pitch on Sunday evening. Yes, I may have laughed more than usual, but I was ok for the most part and got caught up on sleep the following day.
Joyce Freeland- $1000 in startup legal assistance
Baker Donelson- $1000- 2.5 hours of legal assistance
RedLaser Technologies- 6 months free web hosting
Maris, West &Baker- 10 hours of free PR
Mabus Agency- 1st prize: two two-hour sessions (marketing assessment and recommendations)
2nd prize: one two-hour session
Code South Labs- Free 1 year subscription to PluralSight (www.pluralsight.com)
Think Webstore- provide up to two hours of marketing consultation and standard logo design package to winning group
Matthews, Curtrer &Lindsey- Financial statement preparation/forecasting assistance
Hyperion Technology Group- $1000 for prototype development services
We have a block of rooms at the Jackson Marriott (downtown on Amite) for Startup Weekend Jackson attendees. The rate is $109 per night (block is for Friday, March 27, and Saturday, March 28). The cut-off date for this special rate is March 14.
Call 601-969-5100, and be sure to mention “Startup Weekend Jackson” when making the reservation.
200 East Amite Street
Jackson Mississippi 39201 USA
Click on the link below to read what Darren thought about Startup Weekend Jackson!
Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities. Developers, Designers, Marketers, product managers, and startup enthusiasts come together to build and DO great things!!!! Come share ideas, form teams, and launch startups.
Join us for the 4th Annual Startup Weekend Jackson event!
Startup Weekend Jackson
March 27th, 2015
Mississippi College School of Law
151 E. Griffith Street, Jackson, MS 39201
Why should you launch your next startup at Startup Weekend Jackson??? I’m glad you asked 🙂
1. You’ll meet awesome people!
Entrepreneurs. Developers. Designers. Marketers. Product managers. Startup enthusiasts. Tech guys. They’ll be there, and they want to meet you. Startup Weekend is more than just a place to give your idea wings—it’s a place to plug into a community of talent.When you attend a startup weekend you quickly realize that the sort of people that are willing to give up their weekend and try and do something entrepreneurial are exactly the sort of people you need to be around if you are hoping to start and run a business.
2. Connect with the community of innovators
Starting a business is tough, especially if you are doing it alone. When you attend a Startup Weekend, you then realize that there is a community of people out there who are going through the exact same trials and tribulations. Over the course of the weekend you’ll inevitably hear about all the cool startup events in your city, and you will also find out about the resources available for startups in the area.
3. Validation, validation, validation!
A startup weekend offers you various levels of validation. First, the attendees,(great people by the way.. refer to reason #1) choose which ideas make it through to the “finals.” So immediately, you get feedback on whether or not your roughly pitched idea resonates with others.
Also, chosen teams are encouraged to get out of the building and go and talk to REAL people. People who represent your target market. This validation can tell you lots of things, i.e. if several people have the problem that your product solves, how your product would fit into a consumers normal behavior, the value a consumer would place on your product, etc.
Finally, If your idea makes it through, then you will be pitching on Sunday to a panel of judges aka people who have a lot of startup knowledge! Typically, the judges award 1st 2nd and 3rd placings, so if you were to finish in the top 3, you’d really know you were on to something!
4. You get major face time.
Local tech & startup leaders and resource providers will be at Startup Weekends as mentors and judges. Get some one-on-one time with the movers and shakers in the Jackson Metro area. Mentors are from various specialities such as finance, marketing, software development, presentation design, etc. The attending mentors are always an extremely helpful and generally well connected bunch, so be sure to keep in touch with them after the event! Our judging panel usually consists of an investor or two and other successful entrepreneurs.
5. Co-founder dating.
Startups are about more than just an idea—it’s about the team behind it. Startup Weekend is the best way to find someone that you can actually launch a startup with. Thinking about launching a startup with someone right now? Bring ‘em to the event and give the working relationship a test drive. It could save you years of heartache.
6. Less talk, more action! The weekend is not some long, drawn-out business plan that will bore your team to sleep. This is fast paced, get ideas on the table, get them in production, see if they stick, and move on to the next task. Want to learn how to prototype an app? You just might meet someone who can teach you! Want to become a social media maven? This is the place to put that book learning to work. Mentors, fellow participants, tools and the Startup Weekend experience provide a rich hands-on learning experience.
Other perks to consider…..
Of course you get to build and create in a space buzzing with innovation and creativity. Food. That’s right, you get food at Startup Weekend! Startup Weekend Jackson costs $50 ($25 if you are a student)- early bird pricing- to get involved, but you get a of sweet stuff. All attendees receive a snazzy T-shirt, headband, free .co domain, $100 Amazon Web Services gift card, and $300 Google Cloud Platform gift card. Sounds like a no-brainer to me!
The feedback from Startup Weekend attendees is consistent:
-“It introduces you to a real community that you may not have had access to before.”
-” I’ve met great people and hopefully I’ve been able to help them on their startup journey!”
-“Keep an ear to the ground and the next time a SW comes to your town get that ticket right away!”
Hope to see you there.