The following is a guest post by ChopDawg.com, an award-winning app development company that has worked with over 180+ startups and companies from all around the globe, helping them bring their web apps, mobile apps, wearable apps and software ideas to life.
Follow ChopDawg.com on Twitter at @ChopDawgStudios.
It’s incredible to see how many inspiring entrepreneurs are entering the startup game.
Every day, you see hundreds of new startups launching to the public.
Every day, however, you also see hundreds of startups, failing and shutting their doors.
What gives? Why is this happening?
It’s actually an easier explanation than you think.
We’ve passed the point of quality and enter quantity.
This means that building a startup is mainstream. Becoming an entrepreneur is the norm.
This is alarming.
Most people who claim to be entrepreneurs are well, not entrepreneurs.
They’re pretending to be.
We’ve covered this subject on the blog before.
However, quite a few are also entrepreneurs who sacrificed quality and had to learn the hard way, when in fact, if they spent a little bit more time working smarter than harder, they could have very well succeeded.
They should have learned from the best to be the best.
Think of the top athletes in the world.
They didn’t just become a top athlete.
Then they practiced some more.
Then they continued to practice even more.
When they weren’t practicing their skills, they would be in the weight room, trying to become stronger, leaner and faster.
When they are not in the weight room, they’re watching a tape, they are listening to those who have already accomplished what they’re shooting for, they are having coaches critically critique them on how to improve their game.
Every single detail, every single effort, everything is being poured back into their craft, to become the best that they can be.
How come more entrepreneurs don’t have the same mindset?
Instead of just jumping in, take the time to hone your craft as a leader, visionary, CEO, manager, sales person. It’s not as difficult as you may think.
Start by reading books.
People have been writing books on subject matters that’ll make you smarter not just for years, but for thousands of years. You can broaden your outlook on life and therefore your entrepreneurial spirit by reading on all subject matters. Stoicism. Self-help. Work ethics. Rethinking how you work. Psychology. Biographies.
Books are like downloading new software to your own internal operating system. It’s an incredible way to gain knowledge quickly, understand new perspectives, and become a better person, therefore a better entrepreneur. You should read books as often as you take showers. Yes, that often.
(By the way, if you claim you don’t have time to read books, which is a lie, you can always listen to audiobooks.)
Start listening to podcasts.
Similar to books, podcasts have become mainstream in recent years and jam-packed with an incredible amount of knowledge.
Listen to podcasts from those who pick the brain of intelligent individuals (wink, wink, here is #thePawdcast). Listen to stories where you can adapt the lessons to your own life. Listen to the news and become more self-aware in your industry. Listen to understand how to become a better person and show more enthusiasm, passion, and love for what you do.
Take care of yourself.
Why do we sacrifice sleep and let our diets go to hell as early stage entrepreneurs? Early on, you’re your biggest asset, so don’t go killing yourself for temporarily increased output. You’re in the game for the long-term.
Workout often. Eat well. Grab a lot of sleep. Repeat. Work smart, not hard. If you can work smart than apply working hard to smart, you’ll go places. Make yourself a well-oiled machine.
Pick the brains of experts.
We live in the greatest time in history. You have someone who is alive that you look up to? Odds are, they are on social media and respond back to fans. Pick their brains!
For a lot of you who are in technology, what you’re doing today, the books that you’ve learned from, are written by those who are still alive. Reach out to them. You’ll be surprised how approachable many experts are!
Dr. Anders Ericsson’s research back in the 1990s supported that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in something. Entrepreneurship is the same.
You’re not going to be an expert overnight, so you need to practice.
For as much time as you spend focusing on building your startup, apply a part of that time to yourself.
You’re an athlete trying to become the next Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Mike Trout, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Muhammad Ali, so start acting like it. Put everything you have into becoming the best that you can be through practice.
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Building a startup takes founders through a long journey, from inspiration to scaling your company and ultimately an exit. At Techstars, we’re excited about helping entrepreneurs no matter where you are in the entrepreneur’s journey – from inspiration to IPO.
Nadya Nguyen from HidrateSpark is one example of an entrepreneur who has successfully traveled through the Techstars network. In 2014, Nadya and her team participated in a Startup Weekend and created the first smart water bottle in 54 hours! Their product was well-received and soon after they applied to and were accepted by the Sprint Accelerator, powered by Techstars!
You can learn more and watch this quick video on HidrateSpark below. Congratulations to Nadya and HidrateSpark!
After months of preparation, SW Food has come and gone! Before our memories fail us, let’s try to capture the most unforgettable moments of #SWyum.
In our first blogpost, we mentioned the international mix of our organizing team, representing the UK, US, China, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy… and how our love of food brought us to organise the event. The attendees beat us at our own game by travelling to London for our event, from countries including Belgium, France, Ireland, Sweden, and Switzerland, to name a few. Wow!
And it didn’t stop there. We had a brilliant designer join us remotely from Dubai, who helped several of our teams with amazing designs throughout the weekend. So special shout out to Zahed Mirza!
One of the striking things the organisers noticed was how easily the participants interacted and collaborated throughout the event (we even noticed a few people consulting and giving feedback across teams!). With so much to fit in to 54 hrs, it’s easy to get caught up with the work – but the people you meet and the network you build are ultimately the most valuable takeaway you’ll get from Startup Weekend.
Mentors, Speakers, and Judges:
We had 20 brilliant speakers, mentors, and judges, who provided top-notch support to our teams. Participants noted the high quality mentorship as being a highlight of the event, so thank you all!
Friday: Patrick Drake of HelloFresh, kicked things off by inspiring us all with his story of how leading a double life of playing lawyer by day and chef by night, lead him to venture out to pursue his love of food full time.
Saturday: Danny Bluesone of CyberDuck gave us a wonderful talk on lean UX and personas to get the teams on the right track with their product design. Our mentoring sessions for Sat included: Corrado Accardi of Pizza Rossa, Fahim Hussain of Market Munch, Ali Meruani of Menuspring, Tania Pasia of Red Badger, Ivan Shyr of Sussex Place Ventures, Chris Steinau of Uncover, and David Voxlin of Craved.
Sunday: On Sunday, we continued mentoring with seasoned Startup Weekend mentor and organiser Amalia Agathou, Kastytis Kemezys of Cinnamon Bridge and Dave McDougall of Hult Business School. Our judges who helped us make the tough call on deciding the winners of the event were JinA Bae of CHOPCHOP (a former SW winner herself!), Madeleine Blyth of Techstars, Kastytis Kemezys of Cinnamon Bridge, Ryan Perera of Henchman, Ivan Shyr of Sussex Place Ventures, and Raj Sharma of Only By Nature.
Startup Weekend is ALL about community, and we loved seeing so many SW community leaders come out for the event. Special shout out to our new friends from SW Ireland, who we were thrilled to meet and get some top tips from. And another special shout out to Ryan Kuder from Techstars, who stopped by throughout the weekend to help mentor some of our teams.
Now what you’ve all been waiting for – the menu for the weekend, followed by a few of our favourite #foodporn moments 😉 We guarantee that SW Food was certainly the best fed hackathon in town!
Friday: We started the event off in true hackathon style with pizza and beer – but took it up a notch with mentor Corrado Accardi’s Pizza Rossa.
Saturday: Best to start the day happy and healthy with breakfast from MangoMango and your not so average salads from Pollen & Grace. Harry Thuillier of Oppo hand delivered some of his delicious Oppo ice cream, and even found some time to talk to us and help out some of the teams. After an exhausting day of hard work, our lovely sponsors from Hungry House were there to save the day with some delicious Thai and Indian food.
Sunday: Keeping it simple again for breakfast, with a spread of bagels and fruit. For lunch, Hungry House spoiled us AGAIN, with sushi from Youme sushi, and we also had some sandwiches from Pret. And finally, we had some delicious Hummos Bros. Gipsy Hill helped us to top off the event by sponsoring beer – it was a huge hit, and the packaging put a smile on everyone’s faces.
Snacks and drinks: We were spoiled with choices from our snack sponsors, who helped fuel us throughout the weekend. A HUGE thank you goes out to: Nari Palm Juice, Nudie Snacks, Propercorn, Rude Health, Urban Fruit, and Vita Coco.
The winning teams won awesome prizes, including office space at WeWork, places in Cinnamon Bridge’s food startup bootcamp, advisory with Crowdfooding, and a workshop with Startup Manufactory. Shaken Cocktails also sponsored a box for each winning team to celebrate. The MVP winners each got a HelloFresh box to continue the #yum at home. We hope that these prizes will help encourage and support them in continuing with their entrepreneurial pursuits.
Last but not least, the organising team wants to thank our wonderful facilitator Maria-Christina Tsitsopoulos, for her support, and putting up with our crazy antics over the weekend 🙂
This was our first time organising a Startup Weekend, so thanks all for making it one to remember! Keep an eye out for us in the future, because in the words of M. Schwarzenegger – We’ll be back.
Dignity Health St. John’s Regional Medical Center and St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital have partnered with the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce to launch the inaugural Startup Weekend Ventura County on March 11-13, 2016 at Rancho Campana High School in Camarillo, CA.
The event will focus on innovative Internet of Things solutions for Healthcare and Agriculture. Startup Weekend is a 54-hour weekend event, during which entrepreneurs pitch ideas for new startup companies, form teams around those ideas, and develop a working prototype, demo, or presentation by Sunday evening. As a result, participants will learn how to create a real company and meet the best mentors, investors, cofounders, and sponsors who have the knowledge, resources and tools to help entrepreneurs get started.
“Partnering with others in the community to improve the quality of life is one of our three stated missions,” said Darren Lee, President and CEO of St. John’s Hospitals. “Helping to create high-paying jobs by supporting entrepreneurs’ launch of technology-driven businesses is an effective way to achieve it.” “Scalable business is fundamental to driving robust and sustainable economic growth,” added Gary Cushing, Chief Executive Officer of Camarillo Chamber of Commerce. “The high cost of housing makes it hard to attract out-of-state technology companies to set up shop in California. We need to grow our own. To accomplish this, we have to create an environment conducive to entrepreneurs launching their new businesses in our backyard.”
Startup Weekend Iowa City 2015 is in the books!
We had 65 attendees, 6 half-baked ideas, 7 tasty local meals, 1 team fall apart and then fall back together, and 8 solid final pitches.
There were moments – like seeing a 12-year-old mock up an app or hearing the winning team share what Startup Weekend meant to them – that reminded us why we do this crazy event in the first place.
Plus, we were one of four Startup Weekends happening across Iowa in one weekend – with almost 300 people involved (including mentors, organizers and judges), 213 of those fully engaged in a hands-on learning experience, and 26 new business prototypes pitched on Sunday night. (Stats here)
Startup Weekend isn’t new in Iowa – it’s been in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids Corridor since 2011, and in Des Moines before that – but connecting the state in this way, through a somewhat-separate but also shared experience, feels like it might be a game changer. (Having all of Startup Iowa on slack, so we can all chat in one place, helps too). Major shoutout to our fellow organizers in Ames, Cedar Valley and Sioux City.
We were especially glad to have participants, organizers and mentors from the Quad Cities join us in Downtown Iowa City. We now have stronger ties to one of our closest neighbor communities and a bunch of new friends. It was interesting to compare where our two startup communities are in their lifecycles, and to see how we could both learn from each other.
So what did we learn?
Getting comfortable being uncomfortable
Our friend and mentor Andy Stoll told us, this is a central part of the experience of being an entrepreneur. Uncertainty is guaranteed, change is a constant, and you have to be ready to deal with it all – fast.
Our 8 teams definitely learned that this weekend. Almost everyone pivoted, like the team that went from a satirical think tank seeking “general smart asses” to a children’s book, or the one that went from a “mom app” for college kids to a CRM for your personal life.
And there were plenty of interpersonal struggles along the way. Working on a team of strangers is hard enough, but then Startup Weekend also layers on long days and intense deadline pressure. We also had some unexpected challenges, like the first snow of the season turning into a severe winter storm.
Several people bounced around between teams on Saturday, looking for the right fit. A few left in the middle of the day (note: not recommended).
But through it all, people seemed to be happy and having a good time. It might have helped that we had a few light-hearted concepts being developed – from a humorous political concept to a subscription service for adult products.
Throughout the weekend, every challenge was received as a learning opportunity. Even when things were tough, people stayed respectful and open-minded. They seemed to trust the process.
They found solutions – which is what entrepreneurship is really all about.
Part of getting uncomfortable – and also part of finding the best solutions to real problems in the world – is opening yourself up to different ways of thinking.
We had lots of people from diverse backgrounds at Startup Weekend Iowa City (several of them traveled in from the Quad Cities or Cornell College). We had participants as young as 12 and as old as 71. We had several women-led teams (although our total participation was still far below 50 percent women – this is an area where Iowa has a lot of work to do, and we’re still working on it at Startup Weekend too).
The teams with diverse backgrounds and leadership also seemed to be the teams that were having a lot of fun and finding some early success. The teams without diversity were more likely to fall into old patterns of thought – when really, Startup Weekend is all about breaking out of those self-imposed boxes.
Meet the teams:
Sexy Life: A monthly, date-night subscription box to help couples re-discover their relationships.
TICLER: An app to help you maintain strong relationships with those you care about by providing reminders (call your mom!)
Leksify: A mobile foreign language-learning platform, focused on vocabulary, that uses fun games to teach
Most Promising Opportunity – wins a free pass to Venture School!
Rock the Gift: A service to help online shoppers find unique, high-quality gifts
Corn Caucus: Engaging and empowering young people in civic life with humor and storytelling
Fashion Fit: Solving the problem of ordering the wrong size of clothes online
Passion U: A service to connect high school students with life coaches so they can discover their strengths and passions earlier in life
We Suck: An online forum for entrepreneurs to anonymously vent about their struggles
So what’s next?
Startup Weekend is the spark that has started so many people in our community on their entrepreneurial journey (myself included) – and really it is just that, the start of a journey.
We’re hoping to see our teams again at…
Global Startup Battle. At least one has already applied! This is a fun online competition where teams can potentially win prizes. GSB, and the surrounding event of Global Entrepreneurship Week, was also the impetus to organize multiple Startup Weekends across Iowa in one go.
Venture School. This six-week program from the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) at the University of Iowa is a great next step for these ideas. They’ll dive deep into customer discovery and business models. venture-school.com.
In one of Iowa’s lovely coworking facilities. Our Iowa City organizers are particularly attached to IC CoLab and Vault Coworking but there are many more great coworking facilities across Iowa too. This is where the community goes to work.
Startup Weekend Bahrain
November 19th – 21st, 2015
Firstly, I’d like to thank our Strategic partner ‘Tamkeen’ and our sponsors Batelco, ALBA (Aluminum Bahrain), Microsoft and Coca Cola Bottling Company for its support with Startup Weekend Bahrain. With their support, our participants were able to follow through with their startup journey.
Our top 3 winners were Beauty Q, Pick-A-Dive and The Hive, with 4th place honorary winner ‘Turnover’.
Our honorary winners, ‘Turnover’, won 3 months co-working space at Tenmou offices. The team created an application where consumers are able to receive discounts for off-peak hours in restaurants. This creates deals for diners and traffic for restaurateurs.
Around 80 participants joined Startup Weekend Bahrain, with a tally of 13 initial pitches which later on were voted to the final 11 teams. The organizing team made sure to inform the teams to focus on the MVP’s (Minimal Viable Products) in order to validate their startups. We were impressed by the outstanding outcomes that mostly all 11 teams had their pitched startups were validated by globally recognized establishments in the field of their e-business.
The best part about this year’s Startup Weekend Bahrain was the quality of our pitching startups. We tried our best as hosts to create a creative environment for our startups and potential entrepreneurs. As the host of Startup Weekend, we at Tenmou are working on building the startup ecosystem in Bahrain, as well as working on building the angel investment ecosystem in the MENA region. Our aim is to uplift the entrepreneurship community with our country’s vision of 2030 and raise awareness for startups with potential.
Finally, we’d like to thank our Startup Weekend Bahrain facilitator, Mr. Zoheb Iqbal for creating such a positive vibe for our participants and encouraging them with their pitching. Our message to all our participants and future participants is to encourage and embrace entrepreneurship.
Join Bergen Startup Weekend and learn how to build a Startup, create a business model, meet co-founders and enlarge your network.
Is that all? No, Thanks to our partners we are offering very useful Prizes to transform your idea into a real business and make the event memorable.
TENK_IT is a media agency headquartered in Bergen. They offer a selected IT and design service to small and medium sized businesses and organizations and, among others, websites development and graphic design.
The winning team of Bergen Startup Weekend will benefit of Tenk.IT website design (from planning to web testing) with a value up to NOK 15 000 eks. mva.
T41 – Nyskapingsparken Inkubator provide knowledge, network and office space with infrastructure made available for start-up businesses. The aim is to provide companies a faster and safer way from establishment to growth.
The winning team of Bergen Startup Weekend will benefit of a flex desk at T41 coworking space for 6 months, access to meeting rooms, social events and workshops at Nyskapingsparken.
Impact HUB Bergen is partly innovation lab, partly business incubator, partly membership community. They provide a collaborative work, meeting and learning space for people who seek to create positive impact.
Impact Hub Bergen is offering to the 2 Special Mention of Bergen Startup Weekend 2 consecutive months Flex membership, and 1 consecutive month Flex Membership to use within July 2016
2019 design illustrative posters of familiar and unfamiliar people, artworks and builds them in limited edition using innovative methods.
The winning team of Bergen Startup Weekend will be award with a “V for victory” poster with frame.
DUPO provide and distribute high quality prints made in limited editions. They work closely with both known and unknown artists from all over the world to the ensure That unique artwork Becomes available only through Dupo.
The 2 Special Mention Bergen Startup Weekend Teams will get a Mention Certificate worth 750NOK per item
AdO Arena is Norway’s main facilities for swimming and diving is offering to
ALL Bergen Startup Weekend attendees will benefit of 54% discount at Ado during the event and the most “sporties” will get a free voucher swimming cards
Sumo is one of Bergen’s most popular sushi and Asian restaurants.
Sumo si offering to Bergen Startup Weekend Winner one gift card worth 200NOK
Each of my previous facilitations have been special in their own right:
- My first in NYC, shadowing the EDU vets on how to run a proper Startup Weekend,
- Orlando, where I had a blast participating in the first ever college education edition,
- Miami Diversity, the Startup Weekend version of a Spanish-language telenovela, and
- Triangle Trailblazers, where diversity is a prime directive, not an afterthought.
This next event may surpass them all – Portland is and always will be my hometown. I was born in Oregon City and went to school in the Beaverton School District, graduating from Southridge High School. (I’d rather not say when because, well, I’m old.)
Leading up to the event, I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept of “home”, especially as I’ve recently claimed a new one after moving to Seattle.
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Pittsburgh: Where I Found Myself (and just a few months before 30 – whoo!)
Before moving in August, I lived in Pittsburgh for three amazing years. I had just married my brilliant (and crazy-tolerant) wife, and other than striving to be the best husband possible, I had no idea what to do with my life … until I discovered Startup Weekend.
From that intense, eye-opening 54-hour experience, I launched my own ed-tech community, which was admitted into an incubator, received seed investment, and even found customers. I continued to volunteer and organize for SWPGH six times, launching its first education edition in February of this year.
Above all, I made friends who simply “got it” – people who came from the Startup Weekend world as well, and knew how to “give back” in the Brad Feld sense. When we weren’t organizing in the Pittsburgh community, we’d go on an Eat ‘n Park run or watching Silicon Valley on HBO On-Demand. It was grand.
I truly considered Pittsburgh my home until two opportunities opened up for me and lured me back to the West Coast: briefly serving as east coast regional manager for UP Global before its acquisition by Techstars, and now joining the mission to transform education, technology, and entrepreneurship with Galvanize.
Seattle: How I Quickly Thawed the “Seattle Freeze”
The move from Pittsburgh was … precipitous. I didn’t have the best chance to express my love and gratitude to everyone that did so much for me in Pittsburgh over the years (though I tried to cover as many bases again here). When I moved to Seattle, I was warned of the “Seattle Freeze” and heard it would take time for me to make friends.
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That has not been the case … because of Startup Weekend. The first people I contacted were my former co-workers, who then introduced me to the local Seattle community leaders. Instantly, I felt like I found my family here, connected by a shared passion and experience to build community through entrepreneurship.
Recently, I was invited out to the Techstars Community Leader Retreat to get to know Portland’s Dina Moy and dozens of other organizers from the US and Canada. I came away with the trip with two impressions:
- I am completely down with the Techstars vision and rationale for why it acquired UP Global. Techstars may be the largest for-profit accelerator in the world, but it was originally founded on the mission to lower the barriers of entrepreneurship to the world.
Supporting initiatives like Startup Weekend, Startup Next, Startup Digest, and Startup Week won’t really be profitable in the short run (why mess with a good thing), but in the grand design, these programs will cultivate both better startups worthy of support and stronger, focused communities that can support them.
That’s the vision that Techstars and UP Global shared, and that’s why I’m willing to stay on as a community leader and global facilitator. The terms of engagement do not really change from a non-profit status (in fact, they never actually did when you discover the legal difference between donation and sponsorship). Why should our support of the community change because of it?
- We may come from different cities, but we’re all Startup Weekend nation. Every community leader had a story to share, and the rest of us listened. Whether it was a startup story or a Startup Weekend anecdote, we “got” each other. (The altitude may have been a factor.)
If You Can’t Find Your Community, Create It (and Startup Weekend can help)
I look back on the last three years of being a Startup Weekender and can’t believe how far I’ve come from my previous status as a graduate school drop out. I didn’t make a lot of money, win any major awards, or acquire any common materialistic milestones like a new car or house.
I did, without question, make a lot of friends, and unlike the ones I made before, these friends stay in touch and support me however they can without asking anything in return, and vice versa. I also traveled a lot to places I never thought I’d ever go to until I was “summoned” by people I never met before.
Every time I go facilitate, I ask to crash on a couch or even on the floor just for the opportunity to bond with another community leader. Anytime a community leader asks to visit me, I prepare a spare room for them, no strings attached.
I’ve found my family, and we’re actually not that difficult to find.
Just look for the ones that “get it.”
Lee Ngo is a Seattle-based community leader and global facilitator for Techstars formerly based in Pittsburgh. He currently works as an evangelist for Galvanize.
Tenmou experts recently held exclusive pre-event seminars for university students at Bahrain Polytechnic, University of Bahrain and Ahlia University. The seminars held were to introduce the concept of Startup Weekend Bahrain to young minds and encourage them to the idea of entrepreneurship.
The introduction seminar proceeded with briefing the students about the idea behind Startup Weekend and the step-by-step process of the event. The seminars were in cooperation with several Bahraini entrepreneurs i.e. Mr. Ali Mahmood (CEO of uTrack TV – 1st place winner 2012), Mr. Yonis Attiya (CEO of Limefish – 3rd place winner 2014) and Mr. Ali AlSayed (CEO of MADigital) to speak about their experience with Startup Weekend and/or the meaning of being an entrepreneur.
Startup Weekend Bahrain 2015 – Introduction Seminars 2015
We met Roger Antonesen, Responsible Businesses in Western Norway, to ask why DNB choose to support this global event in Bergen.
“Startup Weekend is an exciting boot camp where local ideas get help to accelerate and evolve into promising concepts.
We in DNB love cheering new ideas onward and serve them with competence and support. Through our “Starting a business” concept we want to contribute and increase the level of innovation in Norway.”