Startup Weekend Columbus: Where it Started
Q&A with the Co-Founders of Speedwell & Yarrow
As former management consultants and working moms in dual-career households, Speedwell & Yarrow co-founders Ashley Lambrix and Lindsey Michaelides understand first-hand the challenges that come with managing busy careers and busy households. They brought their idea for Speedwell & Yarrow to Startup Weekend in February 2018 — an idea to help working parents manage life outside of the office.
The Startup Weekend team spoke with Ashley and Lindsey to learn about their experience with the goal of providing insight into what the weekend is like for prospective attendees and how Startup Weekend can lead to something more.
Let’s start from the beginning. Where did this business idea originate?
The idea was an outgrowth of our own personal experiences as two women who have had intense careers in management consulting and continued those careers in-house. Outside of our professional careers, as members of dual-career households and as working moms we had shared experiences that we talked about as friends and colleagues. The two of us eventually came to each other both struggling with day-to-day, asking, “Is anyone else stressed by this?” So, initially, it really began with the uncovering of a problem that needed to be solved, rather than a specific solution.
You had this idea and you kept talking to people about it, how did you decide to take it to Startup Weekend?
We had gotten to a point through research that we felt confident our problem was relatable and meaningful within our peer group. Lindsey had a connection to Techstars who provided the suggestion that Startup Weekend could be a way for networks outside of ours to give feedback on and validation of our understanding of the problem. We had defined our problem with very little idea of what the solution could be – we wanted to leverage a larger collective brainpower.
You came in with a big goal to Startup Weekend, so can you tell us a bit about your experience with the event and what you experienced over the weekend?
Startup Weekend was the first introduction for both of us to the startup community in Columbus. We had so much fun and were energized by working on the problem, the pace of the weekend and the environment. We didn’t come into the weekend thinking that it’d be a good test case for exploring what entrepreneurship was like. We got it though, which helped us feel more informed when deciding to continue working on the idea after the event. The other unexpected benefit was expanding our thinking outside of our own domain expertise. We didn’t know the role technology could play as a part of a solution, but gained access to the knowledge to figure out where to start in building that out.
For those that might be reading this that have never pitched an idea, can you tell us what it’s like at Startup Weekend?
It was super fun. We put some thought and prep to our pitch in advance – we were probably over prepared. So, we pitched our original idea which went well and then got up and pitched two others because it was so fun. There is such great energy in the room; if you even have an inkling of an idea or a problem that isn’t solved today that could be solved better, you should come and pitch.
Okay, you’ve pitched (More than once!) How was your idea selected?
The scrum of voting was intense. You each have your idea and have to collect votes from peers to determine the crowd’s favorites. We worked our tails off to beg for those votes.
Tell me about your SWCBUS team! How did you select team members? What was the team bonding process like? How did you work together?
We were fortunate in that we tried to be really welcoming to anyone that wanted to be a part of the team and were really clear from the outset about what specific skills we were looking for. It just kind of came together and we didn’t end up turning anyone away.
Describe the Startup Weekend environment: what was it like to build the idea on Saturday and Sunday? Find help from other participants, mentors, volunteers helpful?
We really went into the weekend trying to ensure that the team stayed as energized about the idea as we were. Part of how you do that is engagement and facilitating a process where people feel good about their involvement. We spent a lot of Saturday morning doing team brainstorming on the concept and then dividing and conquering on different fronts like research, development, framing of the pitch. We had a good balance of group activities and dividing and conquering individual tasks which allowed people to use their unique skills.
Would you recommend others attend? Why or why not?
Absolutely attend. By participating you have nothing to lose and so much to gain, whether you have an idea that you’ve actively been thinking about or you just want an opportunity to challenge yourself in a whole new way with a group of people you don’t interact with on a daily basis.
Thanks so much for talking with us! It’s pretty amazing to see how far Speedwell & Yarrow has developed just one year since your first Startup Weekend. We are very excited about your next step with the Techstars Accelerator!
This also just goes to show that the people behind the ideas have power. What are your ideas? What will you create? There’s still time to get your Startup Weekend ticket! See you on Friday!
About Speedwell & Yarrow:
Speedwell & Yarrow helps busy professionals manage life outside of the office. Our service offers employers a new way to retain talent by lightening the mental load for busy professionals, giving them back time and mindshare to focus on what matters most.
As former management consultants and working moms in dual-career households, Speedwell & Yarrow co-founders Ashley Lambrix and Lindsey Michaelides understand first-hand the challenges that come with managing busy careers and busy households. They created Speedwell & Yarrow to support professionals and help them live fuller, more engaged lives – at work and at home.
About the Co-Founders:
Prior to founding Speedwell & Yarrow, Lindsey was a business strategist and management consultant with McKinsey & Company. Lindsey has more than 10 years of experience in business strategy with experience across the healthcare, retail, and media industries. Both as a consultant and corporate strategy leader, Lindsey focused largely on business model transformation and large scale M&A and joint venture creation.
Lindsey has a personal passion for supporting women and helping to create more female leaders. She has an MBA from Duke University and an undergraduate degree from DePauw University. Lindsey is married with two young boys and a crazy dog named Gary.
Ashley is a former management consultant with The Boston Consulting Group and Senior Strategy Advisor for OhioHealth. She has over 10 years of strategy experience and content expertise in growth and partnership opportunities in B2B and B2C spaces. She has experience in recruitment and retention innovation through program and brand development.
Ashley received an MBA from Chicago Booth, an MA in Middle East Studies from the University of Chicago, and a BBA from the Ross School at the University of Michigan. She lives with her husband and their two children.
The Startup Weekend team spoke with Rosemary Garry, a three time Startup Weekend participant, to learn about her experiences with the goal of providing insight into what the weekend is like for perspective attendees.
So if you were looking for a sign if you should get your ticket to Startup Weekend, this is it!
This is your sign to get your ticket to Startup Weekend Columbus – if you’re a newbie or a returning participant.
But really, check out our conversation with Rosemary to see all the benefits you get when participating at Startup Weekend.
Let’s start from the top: Describe the weekend…
Startup Weekends are crazy, really fun events for developing solutions to problems you see in the world. You have something at the end of the weekend that may not be perfect, but it works, and you’re proud of that.
Give me a run-down of your Startup Weekend experiences…
I first participated as a student at Ohio State in 2013. At the time, it was mostly college students and there was this feeling in the air—the energy was really high. We worked on developing an app that pooled together shared expenses and tasks for households in a college environment. We called it Chore Tab.
That first Startup Weekend sticks out because it was just a hilarious, fun collection of memories of my teammates becoming really close friends, one of which ended up becoming a business partner of mine.
So it’s safe to say that you had a remarkable first event. What were your other two Startup Weekend teams?
The second Startup Weekend idea I worked on was an idea called Boozy: an alcoholic milkshake. We actually ended up being able to talk to the one person in the U.S. that has the patent for a bottle design that could freeze without the alcohol and milk separating inside the bottle. We had a licensing proposal for our product when it was all said and done and were even able to make an—albeit small— profit during Weekend 1 from selling samples.
The last idea was a product called Fender-Defender. It was a front and rear camera sensor that could tell you when you were in close proximity to other cars. To test out the idea, we made a sensor using a raspberry pie and asked people to parallel-park.
You worked on three different teams each time, what is it like participating as a member of a team?
It’s legitimately fun to build things with people you’ve joined up with. Part of the team building process is to ensure that you’re on a team that you vibe with, which is critical for having fun and building a MVP (Minimal Viable Product) by the end of a weekend.
Something that you mentioned to us is that not only did you participate with three different ideas, you also won or placed with these teams! Tell us, what’s the secret sauce to winning?
Follow the instructions! It’s surprising how many people don’t read the instructions for presenting to the judges. I’ve seen amazing concepts that would have won if they just included more details around their business plan and put financials in their presentation.
Also, actually make something. The point of Startup Weekend is to make something out of the weekend, to show that you tried. Part of the fun— a lot of teams forget— is creating a product that functions, even if just barely. It is probably going to be terrible and that’s okay!, The point is that you tried something and got your hands dirty.
What kept you coming back to Startup Weekend?
The thing that kept me coming back… it’s so rare to find a room where you have a really, really high chance of working with a team that you’ll get along with and that you can build something with over a weekend. You’ll be having fun and laughing, doing yoga, hanging out, eating chipotle… it’s that environment that kept me coming back.
Would you say that you grew as a participant?
Definitely. You can’t negate that it’s a skill building tool; public speaking and teamwork are the greatest drivers of success in an office setting and Startup Weekend is a training ground for learning how to succeed in that environment.
What are some of your best memories?
During my second weekend when I worked on Boozy, we had a really, really late night trying to make the boozy ice cream/milkshake. We ended up finding a soft serve machine that we were able to borrow and started making ice cream. Making ice cream is really technical and frustrating, but because you’re working with friends it was fun. We had a very, very, very big fail where all of the alcohol and ice cream just exploded from the machine and went all over one of our teammates. In the middle of the event space, she’s just standing there covered in milk and bourbon and it was hilarious.
All of my best memories though are ones that traditionally might have been fails, but because the weekend is all about learning, having fun, and doing something with fellow entrepreneurs, I don’t remember them that way.
If you were talking to someone who was on the fence about attending, what would you say?
There really isn’t an environment that is as forgiving as Startup Weekend. There aren’t expectations, there isn’t a bar you have to hit, or an idea that you have to create something that’s perfect.
There are no limitations, no expectations, and you have the ability to grow in whatever you’re working on. For me, I attended Startup Weekends and really wanted to work on public speaking. There is no other (traditional office) environment where you can be the youngest member of a team and pitch an idea to a board of directors. You just usually don’t get to practice like that unless you’re doing it for real.
Amazing. Thanks for sitting down and talking with us Rosemary! You summed up some of the best takeaways from the weekend: you get to meet incredibly smart people, be in an incredible environment, and challenge yourself to create something you didn’t even think possible.
It’s time. Get your Startup Weekend ticket now.
A little bit about Rosemary Garry – Three time Startup Weekend participant and winner!
As a startup enthusiast, Rosemary served as President of Ohio State University’s student entrepreneurship organization. Founding several of her own concepts throughout college (often through events like Startup Weekend), she discovered her biggest passion in her business consulting startup, specializing in new growth opportunities, consumer insights, and marketing strategies. In addition to her side hustle as a small-scale landlord, she now works as a Strategist an marketing agency specializing in data science optimization.
Startup Weekend is coming to Mansfield for the very first time. As your dedicated organizers, we’ve been busy organizing what we hope will be a wonderful and exciting event for everyone involved. Given that we’re so focused on making this a great weekend for all those participating, we want to make sure that you know exactly what to expect from this energetic weekend. First, the logistics.
Participants arrive between 5 and 7 PM on Friday and begin networking while having dinner. After a brief ice-breaker game and a brief introduction by the Facilitator, Dan Manges, a local entrepreneur and CTO of Root Insurance, will share his story of entrepreneurship.
Then the pitching begins! Anyone that wants to pitch will have 60 seconds to give it their best try. No presentations or props needed here; just you and a mic. After pitches are finished, all participants will vote on their favorites and these votes will be used to select the top ideas to be worked on over the weekend. If your peers like your idea, great!
Some ideas will survive the vote, others won’t. People organically form teams around their favorite ideas (usually around 6-8 per team) and get down to business until the end of the evening.
Remember, we will provide you with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for the entire weekend!
Teams will work all day on Saturday with the occasional breaks to eat, do a quick group check-in on everyone’s progress, and listen to a short talk from Marquise Stillwell, founder of Openbox. We’ll have mentors walking around to provide advice in the field of their expertise for any team that needs or wants it.
Sunday is crunch day! Teams will work uninterrupted from morning until mid-afternoon. They’ll begin wrapping up their product/prototype and presentation around 3-4 PM so that there’s time remaining to do check if their technology works and rehearse their final pitches. Final pitches to the judges usually start around 5 PM. Each team typically has 5 minutes to present plus 2-3 minutes Q&A from the judges. The judges will select the top teams, give out prizes, and the event ends (and celebration begins!)
Startup Weekend is going to be a lot of hard work but, above all, it’s going to be an extremely fun weekend. We’re doing this for you. We want you to know that there is a space where you are positively encouraged and supported to work on those ideas that have always been brooding in the back of your mind. We want this to be a memorable experience for you so that you keep going to Startup events here in Mansfield or elsewhere in the country. Because at the end of the day, what’s work without play?
What are we supposed to have accomplished by the end of the weekend?
On Sunday, the judges will use the following criteria to judge your idea:
- Customer Validation (Have you done customer research for your idea?)
- Execution and Design (What did you build? Do you have a minimum viable product?)
- Business Model (Do you have a plan for the future?)
It’s most important that you have some sort of a minimum viable product (prototype) to present to the judges. Regarding presenting, here are examples of the most common presentations:
- 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
That said, this doesn’t mean that your idea must be a tech idea. All business ideas are eligible, whether for-profit, ‘social’ enterprises, nonprofit organizations, etc. We don’t want to place restrictions on the types of ideas you present at Startup Weekend. We just strongly recommend that even non-tech ideas focus on a tech-related deliverable (i.e., website, app) by Sunday.
An open space for learning
Please don’t leave just because your idea wasn’t picked on Friday! You can always join another team and work on a different idea! This weekend isn’t about proving that your idea is better than everybody else’s idea. This weekend is all about learning.
Learning how to use an entrepreneurial mindset to find a problem and bring it from thought to a reality. Learning how to think through problems with the build-measure-learn feedback loop, which is a process in which you make something that you think solves a problem, gather feedback from customers, learn from this feedback, and change your product accordingly. It’s simple; your customers tell you what they want, and you make the product so that it’s exactly how they want it.
At the end of the day, what you can really expect from Startup Weekend is an open space where every idea gets a chance to be heard. This is not a place where only billion-dollar tech ideas get a voice. We want Startup Weekend Mansfield to be a place where every idea from every industry and every solution to every problem is represented.
Because at the end of the day, that’s all we really want. To be represented.
Check out the Frequently Asked Questions for more information!
Well here is the rundown of what the judges are looking for.
- Business Model
- How will your business be successful?
- What problem does your idea solve?
- Who is your competition? How do you compete with them?
- Have you considered how you can scale your business, get customers, make money?
- Customer Validation
- Will people want this idea/product?
- Do you understand what customers need?
- Did you talk to potential customers?
- Execution and Design
- Have you created some sort of product/or mock up over the course of the weekend (hardware, software, etc.)?
- Is your product user friendly?
- Are you able to show your product is functional?
Get ready for the competition! #SWMU18 is right around the corner so come excited and ready to create!
Don’t worry! Don’t discount your business idea if you have one, you can pitch it to us Friday night. If you don’t have a business idea, or one you want to develop, we need you just as much as those with big ideas! We need people who are great teammates, communicators and students with a variety of skills such as programmers, designers, engineers etc.
Tips for pitching:
- Keep it short (60 seconds)
- Make it easy for others to understand
- This will help ensure that your potential team members fully understand what the idea is
- Explain the problem you are solving with your idea
- Be personable and approachable
#SWMU18 is quickly approaching! If you haven’t already signed up, do so now and be a part of this amazing experience.
Blog Post Content
Watch this video (link is below) to understand why startups fail. It often is not the product. As you listen envision the business model canvas. Entrepreneurs must test assumptions. Which ones do they seem to miss?
Also note the concept of time. Time is a valuable resource for an entrepreneur and if misused can compromise startup success.
As you consider time and testing assumptions think about the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial teams. They will be important to demonstrate in this course.
The video discusses what investors look for and what customers look for. Consider what each seeks and why and how they are similar.
Watch the first 8:50 of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouHDNBT_leg&feature=youtu.be (Links to an external site.)
Customer Segments – also known as market segments:
An identifiable group of individuals, families, businesses, or organizations, sharing one or more characteristics or needs in an otherwise homogeneous market. Market segments generally respond in a predictable manner to a marketing or promotion offer.
The act of separating a group of clients into sets of similar individuals that are related from a marketing or demographic perspective. For example, a business that practices customer segmentation might group its current or potential customers according to their gender, buying tendencies, age group, and special interests.
Customer Problem also known as customer need:
Answer(s) suggested or implemented to try and solve a question or problem. A solution can be either simple or complex and may require few resources or many resources. For example, the solution to a math question may be addressed quickly with a calculator but the solution to preventing accounting fraud may be more complex and require a great deal of time to find.
Unique Value Proposition:
A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer that value will be experienced. A value proposition can apply to an entire organization, or parts thereof, or customer accounts, or products or services.
Creating a value proposition is a part of business strategy. Kaplan and Norton say “Strategy is based on a differentiated customer value proposition. Satisfying customers is the source of sustainable value creation.”
Developing a value proposition is based on a review and analysis of the benefits, costs and value that an organization can deliver to its customers, prospective customers, and other constituent groups within and outside the organization. It is also a positioning of value, where Value = Benefits – Cost
Unfair Advantage also known as competitive advantage:
A superiority gained by an organization when it can provide the same value as its competitors but at a lower price, or can charge higher prices by providing greater value through differentiation. Competitive advantage results from matching core competencies to the opportunities.
Key Metrics sometimes known as key performance indicators:
Key business statistics such as number of new orders, cash collection efficiency, and return on investment (ROI), which measure a firm’s performance in critical areas. KPIs show the progress (or lack of it) toward realizing the firm’s objectives or strategic plans by monitoring activities which (if not properly performed) would likely cause severe losses or outright failure.
Channels sometimes known as distribution channel:
The path through which goods and services travel from the vendor to the consumer or payments for those products travel from the consumer to the vendor. A distribution channel can be as short as a direct transaction from the vendor to the consumer, or may include several interconnected intermediaries along the way such as wholesalers, distributers, agents andretailers. Each intermediary receives the item at one pricing point and movies it to the next higher pricing point until it reaches the final buyer.
Channels sometimes known as sales channel:
A way of bringing products or services to market so that they can be purchased by consumers. A sales channel can be direct if it involves a business selling directly to its customers, or it can be indirect if an intermediary such as a retailer or dealer is involved in selling the product to customers.
The income generated from sale of goods or services, or any other use of capital or assets, associated with the main operations of an organization before any costs or expenses are deducted. Revenue is shown usually as the top item in an income (profit and loss) statement from which all charges, costs, and expenses are subtracted to arrive at net income.
What is a business model? In this video Alexander Osterwalder, who created the concept of the business model canvas, explains the business model concept and its utility.
Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8zIESVOSEA&feature=youtu.be
Watch the short video at this link to understand the basic definition of a business model and note the simplicity of the concept. Often the term business model is one that is confusing and while there are several elements that make up a business model, in essence it comes down to this: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/businessmodel.asp (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Business Model Types
Read the article, 15 Business Models, to get a sense of the variety of ways a business can create value, the types of products and services they could offer and how they structure their operations to deliver the product or service.
Over the course of Startup Weekend you will learn the following:
- Understand the term entrepreneurship–what it is and what it is not
- Gain an understanding of the startup business landscape in the U.S.
- Understand models of how new products and services are developed and taken to market
- Understand what differentiates startups from other organizations
- Understand the terms business model and business model canvas and learn how to use a business model canvas
- Understand the fundamentals of how and why startups succeed or fail
Not sure if Startup Weekend is for you or are concerned you will waste $25? Well, have you
ever had a business idea, an inclination to create your own business, wanted extra business
practice, or more experience working on a team? If you answered yes to any of these
questions, then Startup Weekend is the place for you! Use your $25 to launch your future. Your
$25 doesn’t just include your 48-hour experience with Startup Weekend, it’s an investment in
your future. In both 2015 and 2014 the first and second place winners participated in the
Brandery’s mini-accelerator course and have helped raise over $300,000 on Kickstarter.
Pitch to the judges, potentially work with companies, and take your idea past this weekend.
Can’t wait to see these amazing ideas come to life. Don’t miss this unique opportunity, sign up
now!Blog Post Content