Katrine Marthinsen works with Startup Weekend in Bergen, Norway and manages much of the social media for those events. She also has a startup revolving around health and fitness, making her the perfect facilitator for this year’s Startup Weekend Aarhus Health.
Earlier today we took a few minutes with Katrine to ask her about her experiences with entrepreneurship, Startup Weekends, and how she sees her role as an event facilitator.
“I think the benefit of a Startup Weekend is that participants get to play with ideas in a totally safe and supportive environment,” explains Katrine. “This gives participants the chance to learn new skills and test their ideas.”
However, Startup Weekends aren’t all about simply playing with ideas. The intention is that participants develop their ideas into a working business.
“I’ve had cases where participants end up quitting their job and just starting up because things worked so well with their team,” Katrine explains. “I remember one team where they all ended up moving to the same city to work full-time on their business, which still exists today and is really going strong.”
Katrine is also quick to point out that she doesn’t believe there is a simple recipe for making a team work. However, she does believe there are some traits common to successful groups.
“You need to be committed to the idea and be passionate about it. That is the number one thing you need,” says Katrine. “So if the whole team has a similar vision of what this company could become after the Startup Weekend, I think that is always a good starting point.”
While having an idea that your team is passionate about is important, having the skills to execute the idea in practice is equally as vital according to Katrine.
“For this you need a team with diverse skills,” she explains. “You need someone with business skills, someone who knows how to market it, someone who knows how to develop it, and someone who can manage the team so they can use their skills properly.”
As a Startup Weekend facilitator, Katrine doesn’t just see herself as a motivator, she believes it is part of her job to help the teams see the long-term potential in their ideas.
“One of my jobs as a facilitator is to make them dream about what they can do with their ideas and help them build a community around them.”
Katrine stresses the idea of building a community quickly around an idea and not being afraid to share the idea by networking. She points out that this is one of the reasons teams are encouraged to pitch their ideas frequently. The teams are also encouraged to validate their ideas, which is one of the requirements for the event judges at a Startup Weekend.
In fact, Startup Weekend has three criteria that participants have to meet when presenting their ideas to the judges.
“The first of these is validation,” Katrine explains. “The teams have to go out and get feedback from the people who might use their service or product.”
The second criteria is that the teams need to have a business model so the judges can see how they plan to make money. The last criteria is execution.
“Execution is the most important of the criteria,” Katrine explains. “Without an idea you can’t build a business model. But a business model can only work by being executed.”
Meaning that the teams need to be at the stage where they have made a prototype of their product that can test quickly on the market.
Katrine also sees her role as a facilitator as passing on the beliefs behind Startup Weekend.
“Ultimately, I want the teams to succeed and have a good experience,” Katrine says. “The mission of Startup Weekend is to educate people about entrepreneurship so that they can also realise what they can achieve in as little as 54 hours at a Startup Weekend.”
At the time of writing this post, the teams at this year’s Startup Weekend Aarhus Health have been working for almost 24 hours. It is already apparent that Katrine has gone a long way to achieving what she wants as a facilitator. The teams are working hard, have validated their ideas, and many of them are already preparing prototypes ready for presenting to the judges tomorrow.