Interview with Startup Weekend Alumnus: Peter Jaap Blaakmeer

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 12.38.19 PM

Peter Jaap Blaakmeer
Age: 27
Work: elgentos ecommerce solutions
How much Startup weekends attended: 6

When and where was your first Startup weekend?
My first Startup Weekend was Startup Weekend Amsterdam 2011. It was pretty exciting! I came there totally oblivious to what SW is all about and kinda jumped in on recommendation of one of my friends, then an organiser (Vincent van Leeuwen). I was giving up my weekend to attend so I figured I wanted to work on something fun and I wasn’t really there to start a start-up. That was my initial thought when hearing about SW; that the goal of the weekend is to start a startup. Turns out, my initial idea of just having fun and not aiming for something so ambitious was perfectly aligned with what SW is aiming for; the goal is not to start a start-up but to get you excited about the possibility of starting a start-up, whilst having a lot of fun. I quickly joined teams with Dan Fennessy and together with 6 other guys we quickly launched ‘Party with a Local’. It’s still going strong with Dan being the driving force behind it. He’s launched an iOS app and an Android app along the way and is getting a lot of rightfully deserved attention nowadays!

What is the most important thing you learned during startup weekend?
That starting a start-up is all about the team. The idea could be fun, worthless, boring or worth millions, or a combination of these and more, but that’s just what it is; an idea. To turn an idea into a business you need execution and for that, you need a team. Pivoting (changing focus or altogether changing the product itself) happens a lot during Startup Weekend and is usually a great thing; recognising something doesn’t work (by customer validation!) and shifting gears could be detrimental to success but the thing that stays constant throughout this process is the team itself.

Also, Nick can’t drink. (Editor: Here is being referred to Nick Stevens, the facilitator. Do challenge him for a drinking game)

What is your favourite SW-project?
I think my favourite was a project that came to be born on the Sunday of one of the Amsterdam events. The guys were working on something that didn’t work and eventually didn’t want to pitch it on Sunday. But they did have a time slot available for pitching so they came up with a brilliant idea named ‘Cube‘. The idea was simple; really rich people buy fancy sports cars all the time and don’t drive in them but just look at them. But they are stored in a garage somewhere! Cube offered a great service to these extremely wealthy car lovers; they will buy a really expensive car (like a Bugatti Veyron or a Porsche 918 Spyder) and they will put it in a car crusher, making a cube out of it. Then they will put up this cube on a pedestal for displaying purposes in house. Awesome! They never executed it unfortunately… it’s not just for really rich people, I would have loved to have my first car ‘Cubed’!

If you have to convince someone to join #SwGro14 in a few words, how would you do that?
You won’t regret going. I don’t know what you’re going to do, who you’re going to meet and how much partying you’ll do (as opposed to working) but you’re definitely going to think it was well worth the weekend! Go in blind!

Anything else you want to say about Startup weekend?

Interview with Startup Weekend Alumnus: Ivan Malykh

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.54.45 PM

Ivan Malykh
Age: 28
Work: UMCG (The University Medical Center of Groningen) and from time to time freelancing.
Startup weekends attended: One

When and where was your first Startup weekend?
November 2013 was the first SW I ever attended. It was in Groningen. Me and my colleague Joël bought us two tickets and didn’t know exactly what to expect. But the weekend was great! About 100 nice people with even more great ideas came together in Het Kasteel. In my opinion a very nice place for such a weekend. Our team worked hard. We took the needed amount of beers and rested enough to finish our business model with a demo and a presentation just in time. The business model our team came up with was the key to win the Startup Weekend.

What is the most important thing you learned during startup weekend?
An idea is not enough. You need developers. Developers are not enough. You need designers. Having idea, developers and designers is not enough. Your idea must create value to other people, otherwise they won’t pay.
Last but not least: great team makes a great product. Select the right people to join your team.

What is your favourite SW-project?
A couple of projects come in to my mind right now:
BarTunes – because to me it’s one of the most successful projects by SW Groningen alumni.
Splintr – one of the most creative projects of 2013.
Game of Drones – guys did a great work and had a lot of fun with coding and testing those drones.

If you have to convince someone to join #SwGro14 in a few words, how would you do that?
I suck at convincing, but here comes one: THERE IS BEER!

Anything else you want to say about Startup weekend?
Great weekend! Hope it will be even better in 2014!

Interview with Startup Weekend Alumnus: Wout Laban

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 5.24.15 PM

Wout Laban
Age: 24
Startup weekends attended: 5 (2 as an organiser)

When and where was your first Startup weekend?
In the beautiful city of Groningen, back then my home town. During my first startup weekend I was still a student and barely knew what a startup was, let alone how to start one. The weekend was full of surprises for me, a true roller coaster where I learned loads of stuff about words like; customer development, lean methodology and pitching. But also what networking actually meant.
The event was a true eye opener for me, I’d say it was my introduction to the wonderful world of startups!

What is the most important thing you learned during startup weekend?
Two things really stand out from my first Startup Weekend:
1. I already knew that you could do a lot in a short time, but to actually experience it was a amazing. To have an idea with a group of strangers and within two days turn that idea into something real (in our case really something, not just an app but a fully operating balcony farm.) 
2. My skill-set: I learned that I had certain talents that were a true value for the team, but I also learned that there we so many things I had never even knew existed. Something you can only learn by experiencing (and failing at) it.

What is your favourite SW-project?
I think it has to be one of my own projects. It was at Startup Weekend Cologne. I pitched an idea that I wanted a service that would send me: A Daily Reminder to Not Shave Your Beard. It was an instant hit! We had so much fun the whole weekend. Almost everybody at the event got involved with our project and through all the fun I connected with so many people, one of the true powers of Startup Weekend.

The best thing, I actually did not shave for 6 months and had a bad-ass beard!

If you have to convince someone to join #SwGro14 in a few words, how would you do that?
Your life will not get easier after attending a Startup Weekend, but it will get more awesome!

Anything else you want to say about Startup weekend?
Thank you!

Reunion Party Startup Weekend Groningen

reunion party

Three years, one room

Friday evening. Groningen. The bar in Het Kasteel starts to fill up with people. Not just random people, but with former Startup Weekend Groningen attendees.

From the last three years all the attendees were invited for a reunion in former Startup Weekend venue Het Kasteel on the 20th of June. Here, everybody could catch up again with old team members, attendees, coaches, volunteers and the facilitator. While two team members welcomed the Startup Weekenders down stairs in the main entrance with a selfie challenge, others were waiting upstairs in the bar to get the party started. The atmosphere was good. Even Hennie, the owner of Het Kasteel, said it was immediately ‘gezellig’. Drinks were flowing and the chatting became louder and louder.

After a lot of catching up everybody was invited to the main room for a small program from the Startup Weekend team. Startup Weekend facilitator Nick Stevens took to the stage and welcomed all of the attendees with a small trip through memory lane, showing all the teams who participated in the past. Then  the movie was shown from last years event. Two former teams, Bartune (2011) and Quoins (2013), were also invited to talk about their Startup Weekend experience and the adventures they had after Startup Weekend. It was nice to hear they are still up and running.

After the presentations the new Startup Weekend team introduced themselves and instigated a game in order to win a ticket for the next event in Groningen. Awesome. The rules were simple: everybody gets a piece of paper with half a quote on it. The objective: find the other half. The first two people who find each other, then find and high five Startup Weekend team member Jos, are the winners! Easy as pie. The start sign was given and after a lot of shouting, pushing and elbowing the winning couple got to Jos and high fived him. Congratulations, the first two attendees of Startup Weekend Groningen 2014!

Everybody settled down again and returned to the bar for some more drinks. The reunion party went on for quite some time and even ended up in the city bars. Well done. The Startup Weekend Team wants to thank everybody who made this evening possible and we hope to see you at the next event! 

Authored by Stephanie van der A