Your feedback on Startup Weekend HEALTH


Hard to believe that Startup Weekend HEALTH was a month ago already.

We’ll take this opportunity to share some of our favourite feedback we’ve received from the people who attended.

This quote from a more experienced participant who has built businesses over his career:

“The Startup Weekend was very organised, but I did not really realised that when it started on Friday. The weekend was challenging, frustrating, invigorating and hugely rewarding. I have not worked so hard for a long time and re-appreciated that the real juice of running a business is the experience of learning with others (the team). My days after the weekend have been re-energized. Every budding entrepreneur must do a Startup Weekend soon.”

Personal development was a common takeaway, as this participant noted:

“As a lot of us commented – we found out more about ourselves than we’d expected and actually what we were best at. I saw huge growth in our team, ourselves and our belief about what we could achieve.”

And the nicest note we received was from this designer:

“I have learned heaps at the Startup Weekend, mostly about the business side of thing, and also the power of teamwork. One BIG thing for me is the momentum, the team energy, the drive that inspires me to work hard and bring an idea to life during that weekend (even though I took a few hrs break on Saturday night to recharge). I come back to my normal day job feeling missing something. Don’t get me wrong, I love my day job… but there’s something magical at that Startup Weekend that is not replicated here. I feel super energised mentally even-though I’m still physically recovering from that weekend 😉

Will I do this again? HELL YES!

This has left some sparkle in me and I would love to inspire others the same way. :)”

Thanks to those of you that gave us feedback on what was good and what could have made it better. Startup Weekend is only as awesome as it is because of all the people that have cared enough to help make it as good as it can be.

Finally, Kelcey Braine from Team Smoovie has written up a fantastic blog of her experience. If you’re thinking of attending a Startup Weekend, this is a great summary of the experience.

Keen? Tickets for the next Startup Weekend Welling (20 – 22 May 2016) are on sale now.

Preview presso from Startup Weekend HEALTH Warmup

2015-10-19 18.27.23

Great turn out tonight for our Startup Weekend HEALTH Warmup at Creative HQ.

Mark Pascall from 3months demoed some cool kit, including the Myo.

Here’s the presentation deck from tonight on SlideShare.

Some of the ticket categories have sold out, but don’t despair, get on the waitlist. We always end up releasing more tickets closer to the time.

Tickets >>

3months brings the latest health tech to Startup Weekend Health

3months-logo-largeToday we’re delighted to announce 3months as a sponsor for Startup Weekend HEALTH.

“For over 15 years, 3months have been helping entrepreneurs use the latest technology to create world class innovative solutions, fast,” says 3months founder, Mark Pascall. “We’re super excited about the potential that new web, mobile and Internet of Things technologies can bring to the health sector.”

The virtual and physical world are now converging, says Mark. “Wearables such as the Myo, iBeacon stickers and development platforms such as the Tessel are starting to open up a world of new opportunities for software developers to create exciting new software solutions.”

As part of this partnership, members of the 3months team will also be joining in the weekend as participants.

Event organiser David Clearwater sees 3months as great fit for Startup Weekend HEALTH. “We love that 3months are not only demoing the likes of the Myo at the Warmup, but also committing a bunch of their crew to participate in the weekend itself. We’re expecting to see some exciting applications of this hot new technology.”

The Warmup event is free, 5-7.30pm, Monday 19 October Creative HQ (RSVP).

More information about Startup Weekend HEALTH (6-8 November 2015) is here, and tickets are here.


Launch your winning startup at Kiwi Landing Pad!

Kiwi Landing Pad primary

We’re thrilled to announce that the first prize for Startup Weekend Wellington HEALTH now includes two weeks at the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco.

The Landing Pad was formed in 2011, and helps select, high-growth tech ventures from NZ by giving them a soft launching pad into the US tech community.

Sian Simpson, Community Manager, says, “We’re passionate about taking New Zealand tech to the world, and also making NZ a world-class place to live, with tech being the number one export.”

Supported by some impressive New Zealand tech investors, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and corporate sponsors, Kiwi Landing Pad offers NZ tech companies space at their office in San Francisco. Tenants get access to a wealth of experience, and can make invaluable networks in the US tech, business and investment scene.

“We enjoy being able to provide opportunities to enable entrepreneurs and the like to grow and thrive in ecosystems both locally and on a global stage”, says Simpson.

Tickets are now available for Startup Weekend Wellington HEALTH. Running from 6-8 November, it’s New Zealand’s first health-related Startup Weekend. You can also buy tickets to come see the final pitches on 8 November.

Get your tickets for Startup Weekend Wellington HEALTH.

If you’re curious but still not sure you want to join in, or you’ve signed up and want to know more, come to our free warmup event on 19 October.

Got questions? Drop us a line:

The official SW Health Warmup event is Monday 19 October

Startup Weekend Wellington 2015
If you’ve signed up for Startup Weekend HEALTH, are thinking about coming, or simply want to find out more about the Wellington startup scene – come join us for a relaxed after-work social event hosted in the lead up to the main event.

Wellington Startup Weekend HEALTH will be the first Health-focused Startup Weekend. Whether wearables, health data, medical devices, apps or services – health technology is booming, and we’re excited to see what our community can produce in 48 hours.

This Warmup event is a chance to meet other potential team members and talk ideas ahead of Startup Weekend itself (6-8 November). We’ll be sharing a short presentation about what you can expect from the weekend. We’ll also have some health tech experts to talk about what they’re seeing emerging in the space, to help you get those creative juices going. After that, there’ll be beverages and eats to enjoy, with mentors and organisers available to answer any questions you might have about how Startup Weekend works.

It’s free of charge, and both ticket holder, potential participants and friends all welcome to attend.

This Startup Warmup is being kindly hosted by Creative HQ.

Please RSVP with a free ticket on Eventbrite here >> 

What on earth is a Startup Weekend?

2013_08_17 Esnspiral

Startup Weekend is a weekend in which you create a business from scratch. On Friday night a horde of people turn up to the venue ready for and all out weekend of fun and hard work. This horde is made up of developers, designers, and, the rather amorphous category, “non-technical” which includes people from a huge range of backgrounds. During themed events, there is a fourth category “insert theme here” specialist. So in last year’s education themed event, “Education” specialists, and in this year’s health themed event this will be “Health” specialists.

The energy in the room when everyone arrives is palatable. After some introductions and getting warmed up, people will be invited to join a queue if they want to pitch an idea. The format is simple. You have one minute to get across who you are, what your idea is and, who you need on your team. At the 60 second mark you will be subjected to the legendary Dave Moskovitz slow clap of death. Stop talking now.

After you’ve pitched you put the name of your idea on a poster and stick it onto the wall. When everyone is done, participants roam around the room putting stickers on their favourite ideas and scoping out the team that they want to join – and if you pitched an idea you are also trying to convince people to join your team. If you can’t convince people, see the writing on the wall (or the lack of stickers on the poster) and move on. Don’t be the person who sulks because their idea didn’t get picked.

Think about what you want from the weekend when choosing your team. For Paul Steven Conygham, who attended Startup Weekend Wellington April 2015, he wanted to learn about how to start a business, but having a business at the end of the weekend wasn’t a priority. He wanted a team with a fresh idea and the right vibe. He didn’t want a group that knew exactly what it was doing and had it too planned out.

So he joined a team called Neighbourhood Kai, whose original aim was to connect people in communities growing backyard produce. He liked the people and he liked that they were open to evolving the idea.

For others, having a business at the end is what they want. They want to meet co-founders and ideally choose an idea that has real potential to go on after the weekend.

Some people want order and discipline, others want a more laid back approach. Talk to the people in the teams, especially the person’s idea it is and see how they fit with what you want. You’ll be spending a lot of time with these people over the next 40 odd hours. Make sure you are compatible.

Amazingly the team forming process just works. Pretty quickly everyone finds a team and the ideas that have not been chosen are pulled off the wall. And then the race is on. Each team has to test their idea with potential customers, build a minimal viable product and develop a kick-ass 10 minute pitch that will wow the judges on Sunday night.

You’ll hear two words a lot over the weekend, validate and pivot. This is because Startup Weekends are based on Lean Startup principles, a methodology created by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Eric Ries. Eric is hot on testing ideas (validation) and adapting as you learn (pivoting).

You should validate every aspect of your idea. Validate the problem, validate the solution, validate that people will pay, validate how much they will pay, validate how you’ll get your product to the buyers. Everything.

As Paul puts it, before you validate you “Think you’ve counted all the variables, but there’s other shit you haven’t even considered.” For him, one of his most valuable insights was from a slightly drunk girl on Courtenay Place at 10.30 on Saturday night – validation can happen anywhere and from anyone.

The point of validation is not to simply prove your idea is right. The point is that you learn from the information that you’re getting from your customers. Paul’s team had to pivot away from their original idea when they discovered people didn’t grow enough produce to be able to share with their neighbours. But people did want to connect better with their communities, so they had to find another model.

Neighbourhood Kai evolved into an entirely different concept. Instead of homegrown food, they made opportunities for people to meet and share skills over food. To test this idea they used another central principle of the Lean Startup methodology – the Minimal Viable Product (MVP). They held the first ever Neighbourhood Kai event at a nearby bar.

The people that attended this event were other Startup attendees, and they loved it. Paul describes it as another kind of speed dating where you get a badge on which you write your skills, which helps break the ice.

Over the weekend a band of roving mentors drop in on the teams and find out where they’re up to and provide advice on how to overcome difficulties. They also provide opportunities for teams to practice their pitches, which by Sunday is the major focus.

By early evening, the team’s pitchers are looking decidedly grey or full of nervous energy. Before you know it, it’s your team’s turn and you’re standing in front of a hundred odd people, including some really intimidating (no matter how nice they sound in the introductions) judges. You have 10 minutes to sell your idea, summing up all the work that you’ve done and all the potential you see for your idea.

The judges will then ask questions. Then it’s over. There’s no more you can do. You might then start paying attention to the other ideas that are being pitched and marvel at how much awesomeness has been created since Friday.

Then dinner and finally what everyone has been waiting for the results. What do you win, if you do win, glory. Seriously, there are some prizes, but that’s not the point. In fact winning is not really the point. The point of the whole thing is what a small group of suitably motivated people can do over the weekend.

Paul’s team did not win, but Paul felt like he got everything he wanted and more out of the weekend. He feels like he now knows how to approach an idea and what first steps he needs to take, and he’s started to make progress on some of his own ideas. One of the most important learnings for him was around the need to get your ideas out there.


Interested? The next Startup Weekend in Wellington is health-themed on 6-8 November.
More details and tickets here >>

Thanks to Hannah Sutton for writing this post.

Designers love Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend is an event that will challenge you to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team to design a product, service or project over 54 hours.

As a designer, you will work with other designers, techies, and business people to create and innovate together.

Your team provides the ideas. We provide the fun, high-energy environment where you can learn through doing and get the support you need to launch that next big change-driving idea. Designers are always in high demand at Startup Weekends. Your skills can be invaluable as you help your teams race towards the end goal, by:

  • understanding the problem and defining the ideas
  • empathising with end users and experts
  • testing feasibility with stakeholders
  • designing brands and communications
  • creating prototypes and experiences
  • packaging the work and pitching it to the judges.

Here’s what other designers have said about their Startup Weekend experience in the past:

“I loved working with the developers on my team. Watching them bring designs to life in such a tight timeframe was magic. I learnt lots of new skills and made some really valuable new business contacts, and friends”.
Philippa Dawe, Creative Director – Alexander Rose.

While you’ll get plenty of opportunities to apply your particular design talents here, you will also a lot to do and learn from others, as you work with your team mates and the awesome Startup Weekend mentors and networks.

“It’s something every designer should do at least once. It’s crazy how much I learned about working under pressure, extreme collaboration, crisis management, big picture thinking in only a weekend. The energy from that bunch of talented and passionate people giving 110% to get an idea off the ground is unbelievable. Exams should be like that in universities and schools.”
Felipe Skroski, ex-design lead – SilverStripe

Your startup might continue after the weekend. But even if it doesn’t, one of the best things about Startup Weekend are the people you meet. Inspiration, wisdom, insight, experience, like-minds, passion – Startup Weekend attracts great people and creates a lot of energy.

Our own Dave Moskovitz, a Wellington-based Startup Weekend Global Facilitator, still gets excited to see what teams can achieve in the 54 hours.

“Startup Weekends consistently highlight the fact that great Design can make the difference between a venture that grabs people’s hearts, and one that makes them yawn; an app that’s super easy to use and one that befuddles; a presentation that wins the competition, and one that was full of promise but didn’t quite cut it.  You can be that designer that brings it all together into a beautiful, cohesive, functional whole. Come to Startup Weekend, and be that designer!”

At Startup Weekend Wellington you will meet great people and learn new things as you design cool stuff that solves real problems in the world. What are you waiting for?

Learn more about Startup Weekend Wellington, or get your tickets now on Eventbrite.

Developers: Why Startup Weekend?


“It’s 54 hours of intense fun and learning
that would be hard to find elsewhere. ”
– Shane, dev

Challenge yourself: extend your skills and build something from nothing in the space of a weekend

Startup Weekend is where entrepreneurs, developers, and designers get together to form new businesses in 54 hours of inspiration, perspiration, collaboration, and fun. We attract people with all skill levels in a friendly, welcoming, yet challenging environment.

You’ll be tested to your limits and beyond during the weekend. You’ll also learn lots, make new friends, and have loads of fun.

Life changing - quote

– Andy, designer

Why Should You Do It?

1. Learn the principles and tools of Lean Startup

Lean Startup is the modern theory behind building a startup. Lean Canvas, problem/solution fit, minimal viable product, validation… experience is the best teacher and there’s no faster way to learn it than Startup Weekend.


Together we can make a thing that’s simple and elegant and powerful.
– Aurynn Shaw, developer at Catalyst IT


2. Design and build something in the space of  a weekend

Starting a business and building some product in 54 hours might sound crazy, but what about doing some research, finding some customers and even making some sales? It seems close to impossible, but we see it each and every Startup Weekend. You’ll be amazed what’s possible with a great team in a high-energy environment.

3. Meet useful contacts, potential co-founders, or just new friends

Startup Weekend is all about the people. You’ll work with business types, developers, designers, and mix with a whole range of specialist mentors and investors. One of the things we love most about Startup Weekend is that it brings the whole ecosystem together, united by a common love of making stuff and building our startup community.


I was able to compare myself with other developers, giving me a good sense of what I could do. And it helped me better see what other people valued about my work.
– Jack Callister, developer at 3months


4. Develop your rapid prototyping skills

To build a business in 54 hours you need to move fast. How your team works is up to you, but rapid prototyping is a key aspect of efficient product development. Whether you’re running Agile, Lean UX or something completely different, this is your chance to experiment with new approaches and broaden your skills.

5. Pitch that idea you’ve had in the back of your mind

Have you got an idea that you keep meaning to do something about? Bring it to Startup Weekend and find out if it has legs. Pitching to a room of potential co-founders is not only a powerful experience that you’ll never forget, but it’s also a great way to meet talented people with similar interests.

6. Take some new programming language or tools out for a spin


Standing up and pitching to a room of smart people was hard. I guess I was afraid of introducing myself, and also really nervous of saying ‘this is my idea’.
– Aurynn Shaw, developer at Catalyst IT


How often have you wished you could try out some new tech in your day job? AngularJS? Ruby? Node.js? Do what you want, how you want, and have a blast learning along the way.

7. Get coached by world-class tech mentors

You’ll have a range of technical mentors available if you want them; they’ll include deep-divers like Koz (@nzkoz), architects like Owen Evans (Hoist, ex-Xero) and tech founders like David ten Have (Makey Makey, ex-Ponoko).

8. Start something that makes a difference

Every startup needs to make money, but increasingly we’re seeing businesses also interested in making a difference. Social enterprise is taking off globally, and Startup Weekend is just as useful for launching businesses aimed at social or environmental impact.


Having a fresh pair of eyes in a different discipline is a profoundly valuable thing.
– Greg, developer at Twingl


9. Step outside your box – get a taste of the business/design side

Most people end up going multidisciplinary at Startup Weekend. Ever wanted to try branding? Or customer research? Or what about UI design? Or how about presenting the final pitch to the judges? What you do is totally up to you, and no one is limited by the DEVELOPER label on their name tag.

10. Have more fun making stuff with cool people

Startup Weekend takes you on an unforgettable roller coaster with a team of passionate, like-minded individuals.  Making stuff is great, and making stuff that matters with people you want to work with is even better.


“You’ll meet loads of interesting, motivated and intelligent people
who are determined to make something awesome.”
– Greg, developer

What do Startup Weekend participants have to say about it?



“The devs and designers are the key people – without at
least one of them in your team, you’re essentially f****d”
– Peter, business guy


“Learning to communicate with devs is invaluable.”
– Pepper, designer


“No matter your exact skills, you can
bring something valuable to the team”
– Mark, developer

The Mentors

SW is packed full of mentoring goodness. Over the course of the weekend, you’ll get to meet people from a range of industries and backgrounds, all with the goal of helping your team reach its potential.

Of course, just because someone gives you advice doesn’t mean you should take it! One of the things you’ll learn from your mentors is how much varying advice one gets as an entrepreneur, and how to start pulling out the advice which works best for you and your team.

Here are a few examples of fantastic mentors from previous Startup Weekends:

Owen Evansowen_evans_B&W

CTO at Hoist Apps, ex-Chief Architect at Xero

Dan KhanDan Khan

Director of Lightning Lab

Lenz Gschwendtner

CTO and Co-founder – iwantmyname

David ten Havedavid_ten_have_B&W

CEO at The Thingamajig Laboratory & Co-founder of Ponoko


How Does the Weekend Work?

It’s a jam-packed few days, but one with a strict structure.

Friday: Participants arrive around 6pm and kick off the weekend with drinks, dinner and meeting each other. Then Pitchfire” begins: anyone with an idea has 60 seconds to pitch it to the rest of the room. No presentations or props are needed for this – it’s just you and a mic. After the pitches finish, all attendees vote on their favourites. The top ideas are shortlisted, and everyone forms teams to work on them. The team formation process is organic – you decide who you want to work with. For the remainder of the evening the teams start getting to know each other, and planning the rest of the weekend.

Saturday: Teams work all day, with occasional breaks to eat and update everyone on their progress. Mentors circulate to provide advice, support and challenge. The flow of the day is up to you, but most teams use Saturday morning to interview prospective customers and gather insights that will inform  product development. A key tenet of Lean Startup is “getting out of the building” to find answers to the questions and assumptions you have about your customers and market. In parallel, work continues on your business model and product development. Late on Saturday you’ll also need to front up to mentors with the first practice of your Sunday presentation to judges.

Sunday: Teams work uninterrupted from morning until mid-afternoon. They begin wrapping up their product and presentation around 3-4pm to do tech checks and practice their final pitch. After the judging panel and external guests have arrived, the final pitches begin. Each team has 5 minutes to pitch to the judges, sharing their business model, plans and progress to date. Judges then get a few minutes to dig into the presentation and probe the team’s thinking. The judging panel selects the top teams, awards prizes, and the event ends with dinner, drinks and some well-deserved relaxation!


“Startup Weekend lets you face up to the practicalities
of business, the bottom line and making it work
– Mark, developer


Prices range from $75 to $99, depending on when you register, with student tickets at $50.

Get your tickets for the next Startup Weekend Wellington on Eventbrite.

Photo credits: The wonderful Mark Tantrum.