How did your journey with Techstars Startup Weekend begin?
Back in 2014 I was ready for a new adventure. The new generation, fresh from school, was active, creative and tech savvy. They inspired me with their thinking, their business ideas and knowledge. A week before the event, I saw a post on Facebook about a Startup Weekend in Utrecht (The Netherlands) and decided to buy a ticket. I was convinced that I would meet those tech savvy people there and was excited to work with them.
Half an hour before the event my best friend called me. We had a nice chat and I told her that I was tired from the week and not really motivated to go to the event. And then she said: why don’t you just go and check it out? Since it’s only 10 minutes away from your home, you can always go home in case you do not like it… And so I did. It turned out to be the BEST weekend of my life. Life changing. True story.
Why did you decide that you wanted to take the step from being an Organiser to becoming a Facilitator?
I became addicted. To the people, the atmosphere and the energies it gave me. At each event you meet amazing like-minded people. As a facilitator you enlarge your network and the opportunity to meet local people. For me being a facilitator is something natural. I love doing it, it doesn’t cost me too much energy, although after a weekend I feel satisfied, and also a bit tired. Straight back to work is sometimes a bit challenging.
What do you enjoy most about being a Facilitator?
I get attached to the people. I understand how exciting it is to pitch on Friday and how nervous people are for the Sunday evening Pitch Night. I feel for them. They worked so hard the whole weekend, and then the moment comes to bring everything to the table. I am nervous too, for them. I am always proud of what I see on Sunday evening. They all went through some learning curves and teams show true team spirit. It is beautiful to see. Startup Weekend is the place to be if you are looking for a transformational experience. And those are the BEST! I cannot get enough :-). I always want MORE.
What is your best memory of facilitating at a Techstars Startup Weekend?
I got a request from a participant to practice his Friday evening pitch with the organising team, a couple of days before the event would kick off. I was impressed by the level of ambition and humbleness of this person. Of course I accepted it and invited him to one of our team meetings. We gave him advice and his idea was chosen on Friday evening. They won the first prize on Sunday evening too. I love the level of ambition of the people coming to Startup Weekends. We have a lot fun and at the same time we are damn serious about setting up a business and creating impact. I love this combination!
Do you have any advice for those thinking of taking the plunge and applying to become Facilitators?
Just do it. It is a great experience. I learned a lot from other facilitators, like Stavros (Greece) and Dwight (Amsterdam). When I felt a bit more confident I found my own way of doing it. I am just me, myself and I. In all the surveys the feedback that I get is that participants see how natural I am by just being myself and how much I am enjoying it too. Participants are not looking for a show, they value authenticity more. In the end, all SW-peeps are part of the same family. So, you can just be yourself and enjoy the ride! So find your own uniqueness in the way you like to facilitate, and it will be great!