Why should you join Startup Weekend Siem Reap?

We’re glad you asked!

In a nutshell, Startup Weekend is an opportunity for anyone anywhere to workshop ideas, from small business ventures to innovative apps, and turn them into reality. If you want a refresher on what a Startup Weekend entails, check out our previous post, What is a “Startup Weekend anyway?” and take a look at the Startup Weekend Siem Reap About page.

No matter your background; designer, developer, tech guru, or just interested in being a part of something different, Startup Weekend Siem Reap is the perfect place to test your talents and gain valuable entrepreneurial experience. Even if you don’t have a business idea of your own you’ll be able to collaborate with others, sharing your skills to make something great.

Throughout the weekend you’ll get a crash course on how to take an idea and turn it into action. Mentors established in the startup community will provide tips and critiques to help you and your team shape a viable business model, which you will then pitch to a panel of judges. Over the 54-hour workshop you’ll also become a more empowered leader and further develop your creative and innovative thinking abilities, priceless skills in the social entrepreneurship world.

SWSR-Beaker-People-01

 

Need some inspiration?

Check out these awesome ideas that launched from Startup Weekend Phnom Penh:

Joonaak – Delivery Services in Phnom Penh. Take a look at their really nice delivery motorbikes https://www.facebook.com/joonaak2u

Pmap – Stands for Promotion Map, a mobile application that allows you to easily find great promotions nearby https://www.facebook.com/pmap.official

So what are you waiting for? Register now and take advantage of early bird prices!

Startup Weekend Siem Reap 2015 | Friday 29 May 6pm until Sunday 31 May evening

Venue: The 1961 Coworking and Art Space

$22 (early bird, full price is $30) – includes all food and drinks for the weekend, coaching from our professional mentors, startup tools and lots of fun!

Visit our Startup Weekend Siem Reap page to register and buy tickets!








Education Entrepreneurs Community Leader Spotlight: Aurelio Jiménez Romero

foto_aurelioOne-line bio: I’m an engineer with experience in entrepreneurship and social development. For me, education is the answer.  2+2= 4. That’s why I’m in education entrepreneurship

Find me in…Madrid, Spain

Find me on…Twitter @ajimenezromero

Favorite Twitter Hashtag: #edtech

What’s your day job?

Director of Development at INCYDE Foundation and Partner at Klass Data. I do my best to help entrepreneurs and the Spanish entrepreneurial community.

What do you like to do for fun?

Open air activities, shared with my wife, daughters, or friends, if possible.

If you could have any teacher (dead or alive, real or fictional) who would it be and why?

My grandfather was a teacher in a rural area, with boys of all ages in the only classroom they have. He died many years before I was born, but I was told he was a great vocational teacher.

How did you discover Education Entrepreneurs?

I had previous experience working with Startup Weekend. One day somebody told me about organizing one in Madrid specific for education.

What’s been your involvement in Education Entrepreneurs to date?

I’m the Lead Organizer of Startup Weekend Education Madrid, and in a few weeks I’ll Facilitate the first SWEDU in Somiedo, Spain. (Join us!) I’m also curator at Startup Digest Education.

P1070872

What’s the most challenging thing about being an Organizer?

You have the pressure to generate the atmosphere that unchains the participants’ creativity

What’s the most rewarding thing about being an Organizer?

The increasing energy and good vibes you feel during the 54 hours.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to those trying to build an education innovation community?

Work slow but steady, be inclusive and open and share as much as you can.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to people trying to create edtech products?

Edtech products must serve teachers and students — not the other way around. Solve a real problem as easily as possible, don’t look for the “wow!”

What’s the legacy you’d like to leave in education?

I just want to do my bit to help the education innovation community growth.

What’s your favorite edtech company and/or innovative school, and why?

I’ve been thinking about this question for a while, but I’ve been unable to choose one single company or school, honestly. There are so many people doing good things!

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, education would ____

…be free and affordable to every child.

What are the books, events, videos, etc. that you think anyone interested in innovating in education and/or building community should check out?

Edupreneurs and innovators in education are organizing meetups that really worth it. Obviously, Startup Weekend Education is a must.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Many edtech startups come out of the American or European education system. However, the developing world has the greatest unmet need. With large school-age populations, innovation should focus on making education accessible to every child.


More about Education Entrepreneurs

Education Entrepreneurs is the largest initiative in the world focused on helping people use entrepreneurship to improve education. Its suite of offerings include Startup Weekend Education, Startup Digest Education, Workshops, online resources, and a global network of Community Leaders. Spanning six continents, Education Entrepreneurs has created an unprecedented opportunity for anyone, anywhere to shape the future of education.









A Do-It-Yourself Artificial Pancreas System? Open Source Innovation Spotlight

Amazing. That was my reaction, and expect yours will be too, learning about the efforts of Dana Lewis and Scott Leibrand, true independent health innovators, on their closed-loop DIY Artificial Pancreas System (DIYPS). They began work on it in 2013, initially setting out to create a better glucose monitor alarm system–for example, one loud enough to wake someone before blood sugar dropped to dangerous levels. From that foundation, they set out to tackle “state-of-the-art medical technology that was stuck in the last century.”

After a full year of trial data (patient sample size: n=1… Dana herself) and lab-tests, they observed reduced eAG  and A1Cs (tests which show blood glucose levels over the prior 3 months).

what a closed loop #DIYPS artificial pancreas looks like
What a closed loop DIYPS artificial pancreas looks like

The DIYPS includes an insulin pump, and a cloud-connected continuous glucose monitor (with a receiver that auto-uploads).
From the DIYPS.org Blog:

#DIYPS was developed with the goal of solving a well-known problem with an existing FDA-approved medical device. As recounted here (from Scott) and here (from Dana), we set out to figure out a way to augment continuous glucose monitor (CGM) alerts, which aren’t loud enough to wake heavy sleepers, and to alert a loved one if the patient is not responding. We were able to solve those problems and include additional features such as:

  • Real-time processing of blood glucose (BG), insulin on board, and carbohydrate decay
  • Customizable alerts based on CGM data and trends
  • Real-time predictive alerts for future high or low BG states (hours in advance)
  • Continually updated recommendations for required insulin or carbs

…and as of December 2014, we ‘closed the loop’ and have #DIYPS running as a closed loop artificial pancreas.
Dana Lewis DIYPS one year findings data sustainability.

The pair are looking for funding “to develop #DIYPS into a scalable system” to help make managing diabetes easier. FDA approval notwithstanding, it’s hard to imagine how an open-source biomedical technology could meet with anything but excitement by those in need of a solution.

Dana writes: “Scott and I are hoping that we can not only show the world how open source innovation and new regulatory paradigms can deliver safe and effective results… but that we can also change how all successful medical device companies approach interoperability, and how traditional medical researchers do research – possibly in partnership with patient researchers like us.”

This is the kind of creative energy that improves (and even saves) lives. Open Source/DIY technology is one kind of innovation that would be exciting to see at Health Startup Weekend in May. Personal necessity is often the wellspring of innovation.  What will your legacy be?

To join in on the conversation around Dana and Scott’s project, visit #DIYPS  or #WeAreNotWaiting.








World's First Peace Accelerator to Counter Extremism

peace accelerator

A recent upsurge in violent extremism and the conflicts it has ignited around the world have led to a global conversation on how to tackle this far-reaching and increasingly complex issue. Governments and international bodies have rushed to formulate adequate policy frameworks and conference after conference has been convened to discuss possible solutions. However, arguably the most powerful – and ultimately the most credible – response has come from ordinary citizens. In communities world over, small-scale civil society initiatives have sprung up to counter extremism in its various manifestations. Although they have registered varying levels of success, often due to lack of sufficient resources and supportive infrastructure, many believe that they remain our best hope thus far.

In Pakistan, where extremism-related conflict has exacted a heavy toll on civilians, a unique initiative is, for the first time, applying social innovation in its efforts to counter extremism. The logic behind this is simple but potent. Why not harness the benefits of technology, community participation and cross-sector collaboration to address this problem? After all, it has long been evident that extremists adeptly manipulate tech and digital advancements to their advantage, often more effectively than governments and civil society alike.

This ‘Peace Accelerator to Counter Extremism’ is the inaugural program of the Social Innovation Lab at HIVE – a first-of-its-kind space recently opened in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi. According to its website, HIVE [karachi] is “dedicated to training, research, resource development and social innovation to counter extremism and work towards an inclusive, peaceful society”. Startup Weekend Karachi will be doing first ever peace edition in partnership with Hive.

The Peace Accelerator will gather selected activists, entrepreneurs, techies, artists and CBO reps to participate in its 2-month program. Apart from a co-working space designed to encourage collective brainstorming and the cross-pollination of ideas, the program will provide mentorship from supporting social innovators and experts in the field, as well as access to a resource library and dedicated support facilities. In order to ensure that early-stage ideas have the best chance of success, the program is also offering seed funding of up to 2,000,000 PKR (20,000 USD).

The Peace Accelerator program will run from 15th May – 15th July 2015, and applications to enrol are currently open here.

peace accelerator

 








10 Reasons Why I Had The Time of My Life at Startup Weekend Valencia College Education

During the weekend of April 17th, 2015, I had the honor of being the facilitator for Startup Weekend Valencia College Education, the first ever event that focused exclusively on college-specific educational issues. The event coincided with Orlando Tech Week as well, and I’m blown away by momentum that’s building in their entrepreneurial community.

Below are some of the highlights of my time in O-Town. (Don’t call it that.)

1. Met Gregg Pollack, the founder of Code School

pollack
Total fanboy moment – I’ve watched this guy in countless lessons while in my pajamas. Turns out he’s from my hometown as well and went to high school with my older sister. 20 years later, his online learning site sold for $36 million.

2. Rolled up to the event in a classy ride

One of the organizers insisted on driving me to Valencia College in her BMW convertible with the top down. We drove through the express lanes of Central Florida blasting Maroon 5’s “Sugar” for self-evident reasons.

valencia-head-bob

3. Orlando folk danced like nobody’s watching

Even before the party got started, the organizers and mentors had a rhythm they couldn’t shake.

valencia-dancing

4. …Or danced like everybody’s watching

I’ve been planning this one for weeks: a re-creation of that awesome “walking” scene in the Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” music video:

valencia-otownfunk

5. Collected that multi-colored t-shirt swag

valencia-t-shirt

Usually I collect a t-shirt after every event I volunteer at, but #SWValencia decided to give me FOUR different colors: green, blue, red, and gray. My wardrobe is now complete.

6. Hung out with high-energy future entrepreneurs

I generally love it when kids show up to Startup Weekend. They’re full of enthusiasm and don’t cease to think of ways to make the event even more fun.

valencia-kids

The lead organizer‘s son came up with a dance move that looks as if he’s about to chop me in the head. Fortunately, neither of us were injured in the making of this GIF.

valencia-jack-lee

7. Non-stop 3D Printing for everyone

valencia-3d-print

With the support of local organization DeltaMaker, #SWValencia had two printing machines operating throughout the event. The trinkets made were amazing.

valencia-overworked-asian-award

At first I was going to steal this Oscar replica to taunt fellow community leader and NYC living legend Andrew Young, but his response was “how cute.”

IMG_20150419_234401

But it turns out they made one just for me! “That’ll do, Lee, that’ll do.”

valencia-kanye

8. Did I forget to mention how much dancing went on?

That’s right – even faculty and administration came out to participate at #SWValencia, with some of them taking the top prize. Pretty sure there will be some follow-up traction after this event.

9. Hugged as long and often as I could

PhotoGrid_1429491058289

During a break, I had some people watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk on why it’s important to establish physical contact in order to build trust, lower stress levels, and increase cooperation among groups.

(Un)lucky for Valencia, I’m a pretty big fan of hugs. I’ve even removed the detached “bro-hug” from my repertoire because, well, “no half measures,” amirite?

10. Whenever possible, I acted (innocuously) insane.

I’ll leave you with this last image of me that pretty much encapsulates my take on Startup Weekend.

valencia-whirlwind

Thanks for reading my post! Much thanks to organizers Josh Murdock, Jenny Charriez, and Lisa Macon for having me! My next facilitation will be in Tampa Bay for their Youth Edition event in May. If you’re close by (or even if you’re not), you should come out.

I promise to make it the time of your life.

Lee Ngo is an UP Global Community Leader currently based in Pittsburgh, PA. 








Education Entrepreneurs Community Leader Spotlight: Allison Baum

 

Allison Baum

Allison Baum Headshot

One-line bio: I am an Asia-based early stage investor, entrepreneur, and connector.

Find me in…Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bay Area, or on an airplane.

Find me on…

Favorite Twitter Hashtags

Day Job
Managing Director at Fresco Capital, a global early stage venture fund

One-liner, describing your work
We support exceptional entrepreneurs to build remarkable businesses.

What do you like to do for fun?
Watch and talk about films, hiking, yoga, writing, and travel.

How did you discover Education Entrepreneurs?
I was familiar with Startup Weekend, but as I started to work more with our edtech portfolio companies (we have ten), I read about Education Entrepreneurs and immediately knew we had to bring them to Hong Kong.

Allison Baum SW EDU HK

What’s been your involvement in Education Entrepreneurs to date?
I’ve mentored and judged at previous Startup Weekends, I taught a Workshop on Business Models in Education, and most recently organized the first ever Startup Weekend Education in Hong Kong.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an Organizer?
Being a General and Foot Soldier at the same time — you have to think big and enroll various community stakeholders in the community’s vision, in order to make the event a success, but nothing will get done unless you’re also ready to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty to make it happen!

What’s the most rewarding thing about being an Organizer?
Seeing the transformation of the individuals and teams from Friday night to Sunday night.  The first evening, everyone is cautious and tentative. They have ideas but aren’t sure what to do with them.  By Sunday evening, the teams exude a contagious sense of confidence having actually created a solution that didn’t previously exist.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to those trying to build community?
Really figure out why people are interested in engaging with the community and what they hope to accomplish through their participation.  Everyone has different goals – asking them to share their respective visions of what is possible and encouraging people to work together to make them a reality is a really powerful thing.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to people trying to create edtech products?
There’s over a million ways in which technology can improve education – it’s an incredibly complex and inefficient sector.  However, if you’re going to build a business, make sure there is a short-term incentive or catalyst for adoption of your product.  Unless you help your customers achieve success according to their immediate metrics for success, you’re simply non-essential.

Allison Baum in SW HK EDU

What’s the legacy you’d like to leave in the education space?
Strong relationships with both our investors and the entrepreneurs we invest in.  As a venture investor, our returns are very important, but good relationships pay dividends over time.

What’s your favorite edtech company or innovative school, and why?
We have ten edtech portfolio companies right now, I can’t possibly pick a favorite!  Check them all out here: http://frescocapital.com/our-companies/

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, education would ____
not only enable individuals to learn at their own pace and in their own way, but also empower them to build their own dynamic roadmap according to their unique strengths and passions.

What are the resources or events that you think anyone interested in innovating in education and/or building community should check out?
Read as much as you can to understand what is happening in the space and start engaging with members of the community outside of your immediate geography. Set up Google alerts for “ed tech”, check out Edsurge, participate in an Education Entrepreneurs meet up in another city!

 

More about Education Entrepreneurs

Education Entrepreneurs is the largest initiative in the world focused on helping people use entrepreneurship to improve education. Its suite of offerings include Startup Weekend Education, Startup Digest Education, Workshops, online resources, and a global network of Community Leaders. Spanning six continents, Education Entrepreneurs has created an unprecedented opportunity for anyone, anywhere to shape the future of education.

 








11 Brilliant Best Practices at Startup Weekend Education NYC

As a first-time facilitator for the 4th installment of Startup Weekend Education New York City (@SWNYCEDU, #NYCEDU), I was both literally and figuratively taken to school.

Led by the incomparable Deborah Chang, the well-synced and ragtag organizational team of David Fu, Benjamin Newton, Laura Patterson, and Ingrid Spielman (with community leader Andrew Young as advisor) delivered a sold-out, knock-out event on May 27th.

Let the games begin. (You can't read that without hearing the Bane voice.)
Let the games begin. (You can’t read that without hearing the Bane voice.)

In between real-talk mentoring and the occasional selfie, I took many mental notes about some best practices I saw at SWNYCEDU that I think should be replicated across all SWEDU events, if not Startup Weekend itself.

For your consideration:

1. Hold the event at a school, but in an open area

It’s a common understand that a SWEDU event (or Startup Weekend in general) should take place in a school – plenty of whiteboards, space, breakout rooms, and common areas. If teams are all in classrooms, however, they won’t interact with each other as much, which inhibits the core purpose of building community.

Wide open spaces. (Dixie Chicks serious.)
Wide open spaces. (Dixie Chicks serious.)

SWNYCEDU put most of the teams out in a common area, giving each station a huge whiteboards, sufficient tables, and open spaces to roam and float to other teams. The result: a willingness to share and collaborate that supersedes the spirit of competition.

2. Give out lanyards with ALL of the FAQ information you’ll need

“What’s the wifi password, again?”
“What’s the Twitter hashtag for this event?”
“How do I know you’re actually supposed to be here?”

I'm so excited to be wearing a lanyard that I'm practically crooning.
I’m so excited to be wearing a lanyard that I’m practically crooning.

Not a problem when it’s hanging around your neck at all times. Key information is great to have, and it’s also a reusable, standardized way to maintain formality and security at the event.

3. Use a text-messaging app to send out alerts

More compelling than email or social media, texting gets people’s attention faster and adds another method of outreach to a crowd of focused, stressed-out participants.

Alternatively, we could have Ben do this to all 100+ participants. Fun to watch, but not efficient.
Alternatively, we could have Ben do this to all 100+ participants. Fun to watch, but not efficient.

4. Provide advance information and office hours signups for mentors

Figuring out how to coordinate members seemed like an impossible art to me, but this group worked it out well by creating a station for teams to review and request mentors.

Mentors are perhaps the most valuable resource at any Startup Weekend event. Choose, but choose wisely.
Mentors are perhaps the most valuable resource at any Startup Weekend event.

Coaches were asked to come at specific times, and teams sign up to meet with them on a first-come, first-serve basis. This eased confusion greatly for everyone.

5. Provide 3 phases of mentoring: brainstorm, focus, and presentation

Traditionally in other Startup Weekends, mentors pop in an event at various, even unpredictable times, and sometimes their advice does not mesh well with the team’s general progress. Some are already validated and advanced, and some are still searching for that “thing.”

Ben and I brainstorm with one of the participants.
Ben and I brainstorm with one of the participants.

SWNYCEDU takes these variations into account and brings in mentors during Saturday morning and afternoon strictly for brainstorm and validation.

SWEDU_2015_20
Deborah and a volunteer listen and provide feedback.

In the evening, they bring in mentors (usually Startup Weekend veterans) who aim to provide focus after a long day of retaining multiple opinions and ideas.

Team Wizart practices their pitch.
Team Wizart practices their pitch.

By Sunday, SWNYCEDU brings in coaches who specialize specifically in pitch practice and communication, not business content or validation. This overall strategy gives teams a bit more structure and clarity as they evolve their ideas into bona fide companies.

6. Use Google Slides to present pitches seamlessly…

Simply put, there are far too many different ways to present at a Startup Weekend. Teams tend to present off their own laptops and switch back and forth between operating systems and format. In my opinion, this is a clunky and volatile process.

I've got a fever, and the only prescription... is Google Slides.
I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription… is Google Slides.

SWNYCEDU had one computer for the entire presentation setup, so they used a single format (Google Slides) and uploaded everything into the cloud. A huge amount time was saved overall between transitions.

7. … make teams do web demos (and tech check in advance)…

Tech Check is a rough job, yet vital to the success of your event. Make sure you run it right.
Tech Check is a rough job, yet vital to the success of your event. Make sure you run it right.

Doing live demos are traditionally considered a big risk at Startup Weekend – technical failures are perhaps forgiven but not forgotten. With only one computer for all 13 presentations, all demos also had to be sent up to the cloud and tested by 3pm.

8. … and put links to both decks and demos in a single Google Doc

A little embarrassing backstory: Startup Weekenders should always consider Murphy’s Law – whatever can happen will happen. This happened to me when I foolishly opened up every single presentation and demo into a single web browser and, to no one with a basic understanding of IT, crashed the system.

How I was feeling during that stressful 20-minute tech reboot.
How I was feeling during that stressful 20-minute tech reboot.

Organizer David Fu stepped up in a huge way to reboot the system and put all of the links to the slides, demos, and videos in a chronologically organized Google Doc. Once everything was back in order, the process went smoothly. Despite the 20-minute technical delay, we finished the event on time.

9. Serve dinner while the judges deliberate

As a past organizer and volunteer, I’ve never known what to do with the judges deliberation period. Dinner usually is served after presentations are submitted, and in the past I’ve seen ways to pass the time such as Community Asks or some light video or entertainment.

Finally, a moment to relax in a 54-hour maelstrom.
Finally, a moment to relax in a 54-hour maelstrom.

Serving dinner gets people to talk across teams, offer congratulations, and take their minds off the anxious decision that awaits them. Good food placates all.

10. Make animated GIFs of yourselves whenever possible

Taking on a new initiative that gets communities also doing Startup Weekends simultaneously, we made some fun little animated images for our friends in D.C., who held a Maker-themed event of their own. I think this speaks for itself.

nyclovesdc
Nothing but love for #SWDCMaker. Photo generated by Laura Patterson with GIFMe!

If only we made more… Andrew Young, I’m looking right at you.

Finally, and most importantly of all:

11. Have a team that puts vision, guests, and team above ego

I can’t say enough wonderful things about Team SWNYCEDU. There was not an iota of attitude among any of them. When things went right, they showered each other with support and praise. When things went wrong, they responded to the problems with solutions rather than stand around and point fingers.

What a terrific team and Startup Weekend community!
What a terrific team and Startup Weekend community!

On top of that, they were an absolute pleasure to work with. I laughed at Laura and Ingrid’s wry jokes, felt secure by Ben and Deborah’s unflinching professionalism, and may have found some long-lost cousins in Fu and Young. You couldn’t buy a better team than this one – they’ll do it all for free.

In short, I learned a lot at Startup Weekend Education New York City. I hope you’ve learned a lot by reading this, too. Can’t wait to come back next year… perhaps as a participant? =)

Lee Ngo was the facilitator of Startup Weekend Education New York and is a Regional Manager at UP Global, the parent organization of Startup Weekend. To learn more about UP Global and its efforts to spread the spirit of entrepreneurship throughout the world, you can email him at lee@up.co.

To reach out or get involved with the Startup Weekend New York City community, reach out to nyc@startupweekend.org or nycedu@startupweekend.org specifically to contact the SWNYCEDU organizers.

Photos from this event courtesy of Frank Fukuchi and the organizers and volunteers of Startup Weekend New York City. All rights reserved. 

More about Education Entrepreneurs

Education Entrepreneurs is the largest initiative in the world focused on helping people use entrepreneurship to improve education. Its suite of offerings include Startup Weekend Education, Startup Digest Education, Workshops, online resources, and a global network of Community Leaders. Spanning six continents, Education Entrepreneurs has created an unprecedented opportunity for anyone, anywhere to shape the future of education.








A Resource List Every Edtech Entrepreneur Should Have

This post was updated on April 13, 2015

This list was compiled for a presentation I gave at a conference last month focused on building an edtech venture in the United States. It’s meant to be a brief synopsis of some of the key steps you should take, as well as some of the key players you should know about. If you find it helpful, leave a comment saying so. If you think important items are missing, please share them. Hopefully this can be something we all contribute to, in order to create a more comprehensive list of resources and opportunities that edtech entrepreneurs can benefit from.

Note: Edsurge, Imagine K12, and 4.0 Schools are official partners of Education Entrepreneurs

Screen-Shot-2015-04-13-at-7.25.52-PM Screen-Shot-2015-04-13-at-7.44.02-PM Screen-Shot-2015-04-13-at-7.26.29-PM Screen-Shot-2015-04-13-at-7.26.50-PM Screen-Shot-2015-04-13-at-7.27.00-PM

If you liked this article, you may also like 5 Things You Can Do at Startup Weekend Education That You Can’t Do Anywhere Else

More about Education Entrepreneurs

Education Entrepreneurs is the largest initiative in the world focused on helping people use entrepreneurship to improve education. Its suite of offerings include Startup Weekend Education, Startup Digest Education, Workshops, online resources, and a global network of Community Leaders. Spanning six continents, Education Entrepreneurs has created an unprecedented opportunity for anyone, anywhere to shape the future of education.

 

 








Do the Hustle: 15 Brilliant Startup Tools for Working Smarter and Faster

This guest post was written by Alia Lamaadar from inside Dublin’s newest co-working space, Gravity Centres. Alia manages Tapir, a startup offering growth tools to other B2B SaaS startups.

Unsplash - tools

People in tech often compliment each other on their ‘hustle.’ As I understand it, complimenting someone’s hustle is analogous to congratulating them for their tendency to get sh*t done. Apparently ‘hustle’ is what the kids are calling a ‘work ethic’ these days.

Whatever you want to call it, success in startups boils down to a bias towards action and a machine-like calibration for efficacy: only the fast and the smart survive.

This Darwinian law has created an insatiable appetite in the market for SaaS solutions designed to facilitate startup hustle. Founders must have polymathic expertise in both their market and their industry. The latter compels you to understand what tools exist to improve your effectiveness and your speed to market. Not enough startups treat the process with the intellectual rigour it demands…it’s no surprise then that most startups fail.

With Dublin Startup Weekend less than three weeks away, Gravity Centres, asked me to compile an overview of some of my favourite bootstrapping tools to help the teams get an early leg up on their competition.

Using tools to help you work faster and smarter at Startup Weekend is a very good idea, but trying them out for the first time at Startup Weekend? Notsomuch. Most of the tools mentioned below have free tiers and free trials, allowing you to familiarize yourself with the product in advance and add significant value to your startup weekend projects.

To add a narrative element to what would otherwise be just a list of products, I’ve included a brief case study of a micro-project that I undertook a few weeks ago. Using only online tools, a lowly non-techie like myself was able to land at #5 on the HackerNews homepage within 20 mins of launch, become the most popular story of the day on the Next Web, and get hunted to Product Hunt within 2 hours.

So, use your 3 weeks wisely teams, and we look forward to complimenting you on your hustle at the finish line!

Startup Tools Case Study

Plz Don’t Hunt Me Yet

I’m intrigued by the idea of building ‘faux’ products in aid of your real commercial effort. I’ve heard this marketing technique also referred to as “Come for X, Stay for Y”. This could be a booka tool, or a toy — anything that through a related or unrelated product, draws attention to your main gig.

With this in mind, I decided to see if I could build something in fewer than 4 hours, and with less than 20 bucks, with the ultimate goal of eventually being listed on Product Hunt. From this experimental question, the Plz Don’t Hunt Me Yet Badges were born.

RhooverPDHMYtweet

Do the badges look a bit hokey? For sure.

But, did they fulfil the brief and get my primary product thousands of hits and dozens of beta signups? You betcha.

Briefly, the tools I used for PDHMY were:

  • Tumblr: Free website hosting.
  • Microsoft Word: To design mockups of each of the badges.
  • Fiverr: I took my MS Word mockups and paid a designer $5 on Fiverr to convert each into hi-res image files.
  • Typeform: I added a customized, embeddable Typeform to collect submission information from each lead.
  • Canva: Used to design all my marketing and social network visuals.
  • Buffer: To drip tweets over a week at strategic times of day.
  • Rapportive: to quickly evaluate each new lead in terms of value and influence.

TL;DR: I spent 3.5 hours and $16.50 on the PDHMY experiment. My primary product — Tapir — is still in pre-launch, so we haven’t done any marketing yet. Since our existing site traffic was so low, the PDHMY attention made a huge impact (see below). The project was also buckets of fun.

15 Brilliant Startup Tools for Working Smarter & Faster

And now for the more complete list of tools…A quick heads up, that you can’t build a list like this without making some subjective value judgments. At the end of the day, I’m a Mac, not a PC; a Stripe, not a Braintree; a Buffer, not a Hootsuite…you get the idea. Other options exist and I encourage you to tweet us your faves.

Multi-Purpose & General Bootstrapping Tools

  1. Product Hunt (Free) — Product Hunt is a startup kingmaker. Being listed on the PH homepage guarantees fame, fortune, and success. Well, maybe not the last two, but it does promise unprecedented attention for small startups. Read the comments when other products launch to find useful and common critiques that should be addressed in your own products. Suss out the best pre-launch marketing tactics and be inspired by the ingenuity of other makers. And if you need a specific tool for a job, PH should be your first port of call. It’s become a useful compendium of SaaS products, often with exclusive discounts applied for Product Hunters. Hiten Shah has also compiled a particularly good collection of free tools for startups.
  2. GrowthHackers (Free) — regardless of the startup bravado we exude, none of us are pros. By definition, startups must operate under conditions of extreme uncertainty. How well do you understand your market? How aware are you of effective growth tactics, theories, and methodologies? Learn from your peers, eliminate some uncertainty, and get your butt to GrowthHackers.
  3. Intercom (Free Plan & Free Trial) — Hometown heroes Intercom allow startups to send targeted email and in-app messages, triggered by time or behaviour. Once you become familiar with Intercom’s telltale question mark icon, you’ll notice their widget across the internet in the bottom righthand screen of your favourite startups. And for goodness sake, make sure that you’re following the Intercom blog.
  4. BetaList (Free) — How do you get beta users before you’ve even finished building your product? You join the likes of Pintrest, IFTTT, and Fab, by getting featured on BetaList before you launch. While you likely won’t have enough time during Startup Weekend to submit — expedited posting takes 72 hours — BetaList is an excellent resource for startups looking to design compelling landing pages. In fact, Marc (BetaList founder and one of the SW Dublin remote mentors) has compiled this handy document outlining How to Build a Successful Beta Landing Page.
  5. Typeform (Free Plan) — Boiled down, a lot of product development involves forms in one ‘form’ or another (pun verymuch intended). 
    From customer research, to onboarding, to payment and satisfaction surveys, forms are often the medium through which we connect with our audience.
    So, why the heck did we ever settle for ugly, janky forms? Typeform is the form you need, when you need it, looking beautiful and asking awesomely.

Product Management & Communication

  1. Slack (Free Plan) — Slack may be the fastest growing enterprise app in history and it’s certainly one of the fastest startups to reach a billion dollar valuation. That last designation might be arbitrary as f*ck, but these superlatives arise from the product’s extreme utility as a team communication tool. I have a theory that a number of enterprises could forgo their silly corporate innovation programs, instead adopting Slack to achieve a better ROI. For oft-dispersed startup teams, operating across multiple time zones and functional areas, Slack is on a mission “to make your working life simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.”
  2. Trello (Free Plan) — Self-described as “the free, flexible, and visual way to organize anything with anyone,” Trello is many things to many people. Personally, I use Trello as a bookmarking tool, to track and sort online sources I want to come back to later, and ideas I want to blog about. Professionally, my co-founder and I use Trello as a project management tool to track each stage and milestone of Tapir’s development. I’ve also been toying with the idea of creating a Trello board to track and sort all of our beta user feedback.
  3. Peek User Testing (Free) — Peek provides free five minute user experience videos with real people from the interwebs. The current wait time for a video review is 2–3 days, though they sometimes arrive in only a few hours. Peek is a fun way to get a fresh perspective on your product. Just remember to take it with a grain of salt — it’s only the opinion of one person.

Design

  1. Canva (Free — 1$) — I just recently learned that Guy Kawasaki is the Chief Evangelist at Canva. Makes sense, given how brilliant Canva is. Engagement rates skyrocket when you combine visual elements with your social networking content. Canva has the tools and templates you need to make it look like a professional was involved. Their ‘design school’ blog is also a terrific resource for those of us with questionable design aesthetics.
  2. Keynote (Free) — Getting an idea out of your head and communicating it to others is a vital step in the early validation stages of an MVP. If you’re familiar with the Google Ventures 5-Day Design Sprint, you know that Day 4 is devoted to creating a super-realistic prototype in just eight hours. While apps like InVision exist for solely this purpose, bootstrappers may also be drawn to the unconventional use of Keynote. Check out the GV guide to using the “world’s best prototyping tool.
  3. Stock Up (Free) — Sure, you need to work fast, but as David Cancel says, “Ship It, but don’t Ship Shit.” There’s no excuse for startups to use terrible stock photos (let’s leave that to the big corporates). StockUp aggregates and makes searchable hundreds of free stock photo assets…free to use as you see fit.
  4. Fiverr ($5+ but get a free gig using this referral link) — Let me preface this tool with the age-old adage, “You get what you pay for.” Fiverr has a pretty simple pitch: get things done for $5 (though some tasks cost more). Suffice to say, buyer beware, but for simple rote tasks lacking in creativity, I’m down with Fiverr (and eventually you get used to all of the designers calling you ‘dear’).

Payments, Sales & Marketing

  1. Stripe (Fee per charge) — Stripe is web and mobile payments. So simple, so smart, so sexy. How many other APIs can you say that about? Stripe is unapologetically a tool built by developers for developers, combining functionality with intellectualism in a heady digital mix that’s difficult not to find appealing. Stripe understands that it’s god — not the devil — in the details. (And sure, their Irish origins make them even more likeable.)
  2. SlideBean (Free Plan) — Creating your Startup Weekend pitch deck is finicky and time-consuming. Why not give some thought to outsourcing the design elements to SlideBean. In addition to the option to start with a blank canvas, SlideBean offers pre-designed templates including the “3 Minute Startup Pitch” and a “10 Slide Investor Deck.” For inspiration, you can take a look at 10 SlideBean pitch decks from the most recent 500 Startups Demo Day.
  3. HARO (Free) — HARO, or Help A Reporter Out, is a mailing list that connects journalists looking for expertise with credible news sources. Email comes 3 times a day with time-sensitive requests for sources from diverse media outlets including ForbesFast CompanyUSA Today, and theNew York Times. Startups can use HARO to potentially garner international exposure by offering their domain expertise in topics like business, HR, travel, and lifestyle.
  4. Buffer (Free Plan) — Buffer is awesome (literally). As a startup, content is important, but devoting unnecessary hours to the administration of your social presence before your product is even built? Get a life. Buffer allows you to load up your tweets in advance and have them fired out atthe most strategic times throughout the week. I also, highly recommend the Buffer Chrome extension, allowing you to add content to your buffer queue directly from your browser.
  5. Rapportive (Free) — Rapportive shows you details about your contacts, right inside your Gmail inbox. I use Reportive to quickly evaluate beta list signups, to identify who is worth responding to immediately or tagging as a VIP. As an added bonus, it also helps you to discern when seemingly personal emails, might actually be part of a larger marketing campaign.
So, what have I missed?!
What other tools allow startups to work faster and smarter? What are your suggestions for the Startup Weekend teams? Feel free to tweet any ideas to @SWDub,  @GravityCentres or @mostlyalia.







Gewinne CHF 200‘000 Startkapital für dein Startup

Du hast eine geniale Startup Idee? Es wird ein kreatives, originelles und innovatives gewerbliches oder industrielles Startup mit oder ohne hohe Wachstumsabsichten? Du wirst diese Idee an diesem Wochenende am Startup Weekend Lucerne 2015 ausarbeiten (falls nicht, hier gibt es noch Tickets!)? Und für den richtigen Knall zum Start fehlt Dir nur noch das nötige Kleingeld?

Dann bist Du hier genau richtig! Die besten Geschäftsideen der Schweiz werden im Rahmen der SWISS STARTUPS AWARDS 2015 mit CHF 200‘000 Startkapital prämiert.

Hier findest Du den Flyer zu den SWISS STARTUPS AWARDS 2015.