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Global Startup Battle (GSB), the largest startup competition in the world, is coming to a city near you. With over 15,000 participants last year from over 40 countries, the buzz for this year’s event is building.

As you prepare for 2014’s Battle, we asked a few of last year’s winners what it takes to master this global competition.

Meet Stephanie Dionne and Natalia Petraszczuk, Co-Founders of Detroit-based VisionBoards, a social networking platform where users can design and order custom self-empowerment tools. Last year, VisionBoards won GSB’s Innovator’s Circle competition. VisionBoards took a successful empowerment tool, transformed it into a digital application, and formed a strong two-person team to power through GSB.


Envisioning your way to the top of GSB this year? Stephanie and Natalia share their advice on how to get there:

1. Focus on your strengths.

Somewhere on the Internet, hopefully losing pagerank by the day, is the end result of the most humbling lesson learned from our GSB experience: our 60-second video submission. We hadn’t even processed our Startup Weekend win before learning we had 24-hours to post a video detailing our overall vision for the product and progress so far. We hadn’t slept in 2 days, had no access to professional video equipment, and nothing more than notebook sketches for wireframes. Instead of fixating on what we didn’t have, we decided to focus on what our assets were during Startup Weekend: passion, authenticity, industry expertise, and a massive network of supporters to help gain momentum. We filmed our entry on an iPad, spent 30 minutes on edits, and clicked send. As horrifying as it is to go back and watch it, it reminds us daily of the heights of success we are capable of when do what we’re good at. Let go of the little things and focus relentlessly on the long-term vision.

2. Check your ego at the door.

A lot of first-time attendees walk away from Startup Weekend with a bitter taste because their idea flopped or team fell apart. They don’t realize that the true magic of a startup event can only happen when people focus on what they’re good at, laugh off the awkward moments, and stop fixating on who is getting the credit. If it’s Saturday morning and you’re already talking equity agreements, you’re doing it wrong. Show up ready to learn, shake off disappointments quickly, and be prepared for transformative opportunities where you least expect them.

3. Once it’s over, pace yourselves.

Every now and again we get the chance to peek our heads out of what we call the “startup blackhole.” We continue to be stunned and honored by the support we’ve received within the startup community and from our early-stage supporters. We’ve learned the importance of pacing ourselves for long-term growth instead of constantly chasing the next “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity. We’ve started accepting obstacles and delays as an inevitable (and critical) part of the process. This summer we’ve purposefully laid low to focus on the blurrier details of our business model and marketing strategy. It has paid off big time: we just brought on our first team member this week, began final prep for a full beta release this fall, and were recently thrilled to learn we’ve been selected as one of three finalists for Detroit’s Entrepreneurs of the Year!

Our success story, like so many that have emerged in recent years, demonstrates the tremendous capacity that startup events have for fostering disruptive innovation at the grassroots level.

Are you free the weekends of Nov. 14-16 or Nov. 21-23? Sign up NOW to participate in this year’s Global Startup Battle! Big prizes, superstar judges…