Startup Weekend & Global Startup Battle explained:
We’re all super excited for this year’s Startup Weekend and not only that, but also for the Global Startup Battle that is happening as well. That means that not only will you be able to try your skills against your local entrepreneurs, but also be able to compete for some awesome prizes in a number of different tracks against participants in over 100 countries! So what does this all mean? Let’s break it down.
But first you should take a look at this awesome infographic about the 2014 Global Startup Battle just to get an idea of what’s in store for this year!
OK. So what are the details you ask? Very simple:
- In order to compete in the GSB 2015 you will need to attend a Startup Weekend event on either the weekend of Nov 13 or Nov 20 (Since you already signed up for the event this shouldn’t be a problem!)
- After the end of the event you will need to submit a 90 second video of your pitch within 48 hours of the event ending
- You can submit to as many Tracks as you wish, as long as your team meets their requirements
- Please see the GSB 2015 Attendee Pack for additional information
- Hashtag Battle: have a little fun during the event & tweet with #GSB2015 and #SWTampa to create buzz about Tampa Bay & Startup Weekend!
Tracks? What are these tracks you speak of?
- The Champions Track: the top 3 winning teams from each Startup Weekend event are able to compete against other teams from across the globe.
- Didn’t win, but still have an awesome idea? No worries, there’s plenty of Themed Tracks for everyone!
- Great in the Making Track – Made great by Mr. Coffee: If you seek to make a difference (a great difference) in the lives of others, this is your track.
- The Innovators Track – Powered by .CO: Calling all Startup Weekend teams that are launching their brilliant ideas on a .CO domain!
- Disruptors & Big Ideas Track – Powered By Transpose: For the entrepreneurs setting out to change industries with visionary ideas.
- Education through Video and Beyond Track – Powered by YouTube: How will you harness video to make great educational experiences possible around the world?
- Mobile Growth Track – Sponsored By Branch: Calling all app developers and enthusiasts! Let Branch help you launch your next big idea!
- Startup Women Track – Supported by Techstars Foundation: Join us and help create diversity in technology entrepreneurship around the world.
- Open Track – Sponsored By Incorporate.com: A brand new way to compete! This Track is for teams who do not attend a GSB event and are in the early stages of launching their ideas.
This all sounds awesome, how do I start? If you have yet to sign up (really, why haven’t you signed up yet?) then just follow this handy link and register today!
New York City will host its first business-to-business (B2B) themed Startup Weekend event on May 15-17, sponsored by Intuit. In preparation for this event, we gathered a panel of experts and passionate entrepreneurs at WeWork Fulton Center on April 29th to share inside knowledge and firsthand stories about some of toughest challenges in launching a B2B startup. If you missed the B2B panel event or want to relive the highlights, here is a recap of all the top inside tips and takeaways.
Defining B2B (vs B2C)
At its core, a B2B is a business supplying a service/product to another business. Meredith Wood, Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, highlighted that B2B companies aim to address a real need, whether it is to streamline processes or increase efficiencies, whereas there is more “want” involved in the purchase decision for business-to-consumer (B2C) products. Wood also noted that there is often a larger barrier to entry when starting a B2B company and stressed the importance of market trust, which was echoed by all the panelists. At a B2C level, the purchase decision ultimately affects the one consumer, but at a B2B level, the decision could impact tens, thousands of people, hence the additional barriers and security/privacy concerns.
The panel was quick to address other differences such as pointing out that B2B sales models are completely different and often more complex. For example, the sale of a candy bar to an individual, which only involves the store and the customer, was compared to the licensing of a candy bar which involves a whole team of lawyers and licensing agreements. For a B2C company, the challenge is to spread the product far and wide. Conversely, for B2B companies, Marisa Garcia, Director of Retail Engagement at JOOR, addressed the need to focus on building good relationships that lead to success. She encouraged attendees to identify key players, validating your product, and finding a good market fit.
Wood noted that, unlike working with enterprises, selling to a small business is scarily similar to selling to a consumer and that a lot of B2C platforms, such as Facebook, work great in the B2B space as well. Most small businesses use Facebook and being active on the same platforms as your customers can be helpful for establishing trust with your target audience. In fact, when asked about what category companies such as Etsy, Seamless, and Google fall into, Jeff Ragovin, Managing Partner at Ragovin Ventures and co-founder of Buddy Media, pointed out that there are there is another category, of business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) companies. For example, businesses are increasingly using Seamless to feed their staff, a rare occurrence that blurs the line of the capacities a B2C company can fulfill, usually seen with enterprise platforms.
B2B trends and opportunity
Ragovin declared that the mobile is a huge opportunity for B2B startups. The average person reaches for their phone over 100 times a day and as the mobile landscape evolves, everything is becoming mobile first. More importantly, Google recently announced that they have changed search results to prioritize mobile-friendly websites. The takeaway: in order to disrupt the B2B marketplace, think ‘Mobile First.’
Yves Lawson, Vice President of Technology Strategy for Bank of New York Mellon, noted that the success of apps such as Robin Hood are demonstrating a paradigm shift in a FinTech space that used to be highly specialized for the wealthy. The same tools for wealth management and growth advisors are now available for everyone, impacting the economy on how we see wealth in the future.
Success in the B2B space starts with empathy
Overall, the panel had a lot of great advice for the attendees but all of them stressed the importance of gaining trust and providing great customer service as keys to success in the B2B space. Lawson stated that the B2B companies that stand out from the rest are the ones that go far with relationships and maintain good customer service, even if a companies has messed up or made a mistake.
Garcia highlighted the importance of empathizing with your customers. Her recommendation was to consistently ask yourself, “How can [I] make my customers’ lives easier?” and stressed the power of engaging people in conversations to demonstrate that you really understand the customer’s pain points. After all, “how can an entrepreneur really solve [your customer’s] needs or problems if you don’t feel their pain?” She shared about how a strong understanding of JOOR’s customers helped the company to create a product that consumers are more likely to adopt and find useful.
For Wood, was the most important aspect of a B2B product is how much time it can save businesses. She claimed, “People are willing to spend more if you can save them time. Time is money, as you can convert saved time into monetary value.” She cited that there were products she stopped using because it made more work than the time it saved.
Furthermore, she compared startups to a newborn baby as an analogy to drive home the importance of getting customer validation advising to “let your children go out and play with other people.” She also importance of a great user experience and customer service, getting products in front of early users and acquiring feedback.
Good customer service, networking, and partnerships
All four panelists agreed that knowing your market is the first step in starting in the B2B space, because considerations for working with a small business versus an enterprise company can be a very different experience. For example, Lawson noted that when working with large enterprises, it is helpful to reference competitors or other notable companies who use your product or service.
However, regardless of size, the panel agreed that responsiveness and customer service applies to all B2B companies. Citing how a small blunder could turn into a national headline as seen with airline companies as an example, the panel suggested that establishing a responsive and quality customer service system, by leveraging tools such as Twitter and Zendesk, will not only build trust but also demonstrate credibility that will ultimately win customers. The panel also suggested making the effort to always be reachable and to show that there is accountability to build customer trust.
Ragovin encouraged attendees to keep their networks fresh and emphasized that networking is really a two-way street that is much more fulfilling when you’re willing to “pay it forward.” He urged attendees to think about how they could help others, and noted that people are generally willing to meet when ideas are constantly being exchanged. From a business side, he accentuated the need to focus on providing actual solutions to fix your customer’s problem. If your product is not fixing a problem, there is no need for it and it needs to be reevaluated.
For smaller businesses, Wood shared how partnerships with accountants, or experts in her target market, has helped her to reach her ideal audience, noting that most small business owners will trust their accountant over everyone else. Additionally, working with trade associations is also helpful for reaching small businesses in specific industries.
In closing, Garcia highlighted the power of the network effect of getting your fans and customers to promote your brand for you. She emphasized the impact of word of mouth marketing, which ultimately comes from providing good customer service and satisfaction, bringing us full circle with yet another example of why customer service is key for launching a B2B startup.
Ready to launch the next big B2B idea?
To inspire the audience, each panelist shared a few of their favorite B2B products that they use frequently: Salesforce, FreshBooks, Facebook, Lightspeed, Intuit, and CoSchedule. If you’re ready to launch your next idea that solves a problem that businesses face, come meet some of the panelists and additional NYC based B2B mentors at the next Startup Weekend B2B Edition on May 15- 17. Don’t miss your chance to register! Tickets always sell out.
Heads up: special prizes from our sponsors at Intuit will be offered to the top ideas that incorporate the Intuit API to help small businesses. We encourage you to check out more info on getting started with Intuit Developer by clicking here.
If you have any questions about the upcoming event, please email the organizing team at email@example.com.
Lauren helps businesses with customer development, business development, and marketing. Customer centrism is the philosophy behind the company’s focus: how do companies attract, retain, and motivate the customers that will make their business successful and profitable?
She works with companies to create customer profiles, which then are tested and validated, and which can then be used to build growth-oriented business and product development strategies. She has had her fair share of helping businesses bloom.
We had a chance to interview her for Startup Weekend.
How many Startup Weekends have you mentored at?
This is going to be my 5th startup weekend in total and 3rd in Amsterdam.
Which participant team made the biggest impression on you?
It has to be a team from Startup Weekend Amsterdam 2014 which tried and pivoted a lot over the weekend and ended up talking about their learning process and failure on Sunday night pitch.
We as human beings and as a society are focused on success and results only but what I liked about that team is that their experience focused on the learning process itself and the fact that exposing vulnerability can help other people learn.
What makes you come back to Startup Weekend Amsterdam every year?
I love the whole concept of startup weekend. I love the team of dedicated individuals behind Startup Weekend Amsterdam and the fact that it is ran voluntarily is a testament to the energy and the passion that the team brings. The structure itself is weird, chaotic and energized rather than something which is too structured and boring. So for me it is tiring but also very energizing and fun.
How can you help our participants as a mentor?
Helping all size of companies develop ideas is part of my daily work, especially with regards to their customers. My expertise is related to how an idea is related to a customer, on every level: from ideation to validation to successfully launching the product or service.
What I will bring is the customers perspective to what participants will be building. You may think your idea is great but I’m going to look at it from a customer’s point of view and help you develop it further.
What kind of ideas are you looking forward to see at this year’s event?
I’m looking forward to Social Entrepreneurship ideas, ideas which can impact our community and people. Ideas which can transform ways to share information which is offline as well as online to make people’s life better. I don’t think most of us need any more products, what we need to do is figure out better ways to communicate, connect, share and impact each other’s world.
What is the most important lesson you want to give to our participants?
The weekend is not about ending up with a successful idea, its about learning and allowing yourself to fail. I would say come in and be prepared to fail.
Why should people participate in Startup Weekend even if they don’t have an idea?
There are two kind of people at this event; people with great ideas and people who help them actually make those ideas happen. I myself am the latter type as I don’t have great ideas by myself but I’ve great skills supporting those people bring ideas to life. Supporting and bringing ideas to life is actually much more fun. It really stretches you creatively and i think those people are more important than the people with ideas. I see those people as a major asset to Startup Weekend.
Looking forward to our coming event? Buy your tickets soon.
Startup Weekend Amsterdam welcomes back one of the sponsors from last year to the event again: Rockstart
Rockstart gives startups rock-solid support in their first 1000 days. Since 2012, Rockstart has helped startups from all over the world grow faster. With 2 accelerator programs has helped more than 40 startups take off and created over 250 jobs. Besides accelerator, other initiatives like Rockstart Spaces, Answers and Impact are also part of Rockstart.
We interviewed Don Ritzen, co-founder and Managing Director of Rockstart Accelerator.
What history do you have with Startup weekend?
The idea of Rockstart also came out of Startup Weekend which we organised for first time in 2009. I participated a Startup Weekend event in Copenhagen and my team won the weekend and afterwards we had members of jury and VC’s coming up to us and saying they’d like to invest, which was mind blowing. The startup continued, raised $2 millions and went to Silicon Valley, I couldn’t go with them. Here in Netherlands Startup Weekend has such an energetic effect that people that win the event or form a very nice team they sometimes quit their jobs right after the weekend but what I noticed is that they struggled to find launching customers or investors. I thought we should have something as a next step after startup weekend. We didn’t have anything like that in Netherlands and no one was doing it so I decided to do it, and met my co-founder Oscar Kneppers at Startup Weekend and together we launched Rockstart.
Why is entrepreneurship important to you?
I think it challenges you to make the most out of yourself and it gives you freedom and autonomy to make your own path. To create something when there’s only a idea is there on paper and make it come to life is the best feeling there is and everyone at Startup Weekend feels that because they start with nothing on Friday evening and they make something out of it by Sunday evening and that is why it’s such a powerful event and I think that is also the essence of entrepreneurship.
What effects SW has on ecosystem of city or country?
It has a big effect on people who join the event; after such a weekend they realise that the idea they have been walking around is not so difficult to implement and together with Sunday evening pitches guests the energy that is in the room on Sunday evening is something you won’t see at other events and that energy spreads across the city, infects other people and encourage them to join the event or do entrepreneurial things on their own.
Why someone with a business idea should come to Startup Weekend Amsterdam?
It simply is the best platform to take your idea to next step. You can keep it to yourself and grow it in your own time but when you start to share, it gets better. With more thoughts and different point of views make something improve. People who have ideas usually don’t do something with them and some years later at some dinner party they say ‘look at the company who raised another 5 million, i had same idea 2 years ago’. Startup weekend is a platform which allows you to do something with your ideas.
Why should people with full time jobs come to Startup weekend even if they don’t want to build their own company?
You leave the weekend very energetic with a lot of ideas and insights in terms of how to do your job differently or better. For example working with business model canvas or working with different people you don’t normally work with gives you a different approach to the usual way of working and that brings a lot of improvement.
Why you decided to sponsor?
It is about giving back to Startup Weekend as I got a lot from it, it brought be where I am today. I think its nice to have other people have the same experience which i had.
Looking forward to our coming event? Buy your tickets soon. Early Birds Sold Out.