7 Tips to Help You Win Startup Weekend

I should probably say “7 tips to help you maximize your chance to win Startup Weekend,” because if more teams follow my advice, there will only be a one winner anyway. And quite frankly, it still doesn’t guarantee anything because there are judges that decide and pick the winners.

I’ve mentored a lot of teams on Startup Weekends over the past few years and I noticed that the top 3 teams have always had something in common. They succeeded in validation, business and product – what are the categories for judging criteria? Here are my 7 steps that help you succeed and maximize your chance to win Startup Weekend.

First things first, though. Winning Startup Weekend feels great, and it gives you your 15 minutes of glory on the stage. Actually, winning any startup competition feels great.

However, winning any startup competition will never make your business successful. It motivates you, gives you some head start in reaching out to partners, advisors and maybe customers, but that’s it. Therefore, your long term goal should never be to win a startup competition.

A quick tip before I get to the particular steps: a complex idea or product (like an enterprise software) isn’t usually a good idea for Startup Weekends, because it’s very unlikely that you will be able to validate the problem and idea as well as build the prototype.

Startup Weekend can help you a lot anyway, because the mentors are experienced and can help you get the idea to the next stage (and even connect you with your potential customers).

Just have in mind that your chance to win is smaller, because Startup Weekend is mostly about learning the lean approach and it is much faster and easier with small projects.

Step 1 – Prepare elevator pitch

(image source: LinkedIn)

Every Startup Weekend starts with the pitching where the participants pitch the ideas that they want to work on. The pitch is only 1 minute and there can be 20 people pitching, so make sure that you prepare for it.

Don’t try reinvent the wheel with what you say and make it simple. Instead of figuring out the super unique original pitch, practice its delivery at home in front of the mirror. I take a video of myself when I’m preparing for an important pitch and don’t finish practicing until I’m happy with it.

This is what Ross from Australia used when he won the Startup Weekend in Perth:

Hi, My name is _____ and I’m here today to invite you to join me in <business name> that <main value proposition>. My background is in <relevant background> and I’ve seen a problem/opportunity where <problem/opportunity>. I think we can solve this by <how you do it>. I need <mobile app developer / web developer / UX designer /etc.>

One super important thing here. Don’t talk about features when describing value proposition. The value proposition is the benefit the the user or customer will get, while feature is the way of providing that benefit .

Step 2 – Build Your Team

(image source: Wikipedia)

I’ll be getting back to the judging criteria, because that’s what you need do well in order to succeed.

You need to validate your idea, create a business model and execute well and you need to build the team that can do all of that. It means covering business (sales and marketing), programming, and design.

Being the CEO doesn’t mean you’re the only one who coordinates the team. Your job is to motivate the team by putting much effort into the project and doing the most leg work, not by saying what has to be done. It’s important that every team member has their clear role, understands what she or he needs to do and accepts it.

Once the roles are clear, make a brief plan for the whole weekend and include a short, 5 to 10 minutes long, and catch up every 2 hours. That will help the whole team understand what you need to focus on.

A secret tip: don’t be afraid to talk to people and literally recruit them for your project. Get to know the people before the elevator pitches start.

If you like someone, pitch them your idea and ask whether they want to work with you.

If you don’t find anyone, do it after the elevator pitches while everyone is voting. Recruiting more people also means more votes and better chance that your project will be selected.

Step 3 – Validate, Validate, Validate

(image source: necrophone.com)

I’ve mentored over 100 startups on startup competitions. If I exclude a few exceptions, validating that the idea that you are working on is resolving a real problem is the biggest issue during Startup Weekend of each and every team.

I’m not blaming the teams for that, because they don’t know how to do it, schools don’t teach it. You can read more in my post on Techstars Blog. If you are lazy and want only some bullet points, here you go:

  1. Talk to the real people (not family and friends) that are your target audience and literally start as soon as can. There was a startup working on a service for homeless people and they went to the park to talk to homeless people. If they could do it, you can do it as well.
  2. Ask the target audience about what problems do they have and don’t pitch your idea. That would bias them and it’s very likely that everybody would like the idea. However, the fact that someone likes the idea doesn’t mean that the idea solves a real problem.
  3. If you validate that the problem exists, learn more about how are the people solving the problem today and who they are. This will help you understand how complicated it is for your potential customers to solve the problem today, and what might be the customer segments within your target audience.

If your target audience are families, go to the mall – families go there on weekends.

If you have a B2B idea, use your network and ask for introductions. It’s very likely that someone that you know knows a doctor, accountant, lawyer, etc.

Go where your target audience is and talk to them. It’s out of the comfort zone, but that’s where the road to success is.

If you don’t validate that the idea doesn’t solve a real problem of real people, you can’t win.

Step 4 – Create a Business Model

(image source: Wikipedia)

Startup is a business and business needs to earn money. Therefore, you need to understand:

  1. Who is your customer?
  2. What exactly is the customer paying for and how much?
  3. How are you going to acquire the customer? (it’s called go-to-market strategy)
  4. How much does acquiring a new customer cost? (it’s called customer acquisition cost)

A great way to understand all the relationships in your business is to fill out the business model canvas. I’m pretty sure that this is also one of the first things the Startup Weekend organizers recommend you to do.

What is important here is that the customer lifetime value, what is the total revenue from a customer, needs to be significantly higher than customer acquisition cost. If not, your business doesn’t have a chance to be profitable.

You should also know how big is your market, but you don’t need to go into too many details. It’s not easy to do so during the weekend, and understanding who your customer is and how are you going to get them is much more important.

A secret hint is to use Facebook advertising demographic targeting to define your audience find the approximate number of people interested in the topic.

Step 5 – Get Traction

(image source: Flickr)

54 hours, and especially during the weekend, is an extremely short time to get the first user or even customer. But if you manage to get them, it usually counts and is more important that problem validated by interviewing your potential customers. This is because customers are the ultimate validation.

Don’t try to fake it with friends, because the judges are smart people and can figure that out.

You may also think of how the hell could you get users and customers when you don’t have the product ready, and it’s a totally accurate question or concern. A great work-around that also counts is to create a landing page and collect sign ups from people who are interested in your idea and want to know when you launch. If you get them to pay at least a few dollars, euros, or whatever your currency is, that’s even better.

Don’t spend money on paid advertising. Reach out to your network on social media, ask mentors or organizers for some introductions and post (don’t spam) to Facebook or LinkedIn groups.

Building a simple landing page with a tool like Instapage takes an hour (including the integration with Google Analytics and Mailchimp), so there is literally no excuse for not doing it.

Also, even though you are a designer or developer, don’t waste time with building a custom landing page. Rather spend that time on building and designing the product.

Step 6 – Build MVP

(image source: Crisp.se, ©Henrik Kniberg)

MVP stands for “minimum viable product.” There are tons of definitions of what exactly an MVP is, but don’t worry about them. They would only distract you.

Think of an MVP as a product that provides its users with the basic solution to the problem that it’s solving for them. For example: 

  • the MVP of Uber could allow you to order a car and a driver to accept your order. No payments, ratings, discounts, animated cars, etc. 
  • the MVP of Facebook could allow you to create your profile, connect with friends and publish a status update with comments. No photo upload, no chat, no videos, no Facebook pages, no groups, etc. 

Even if it may look like that, an MVP isn’t an excuse for a sloppy app full of bugs. The MVP has to work well, the user experience needs to be good and it needs to look good enough. It has to help the users resolve the problem and be excited about the upgrades that you will be doing.

54 hours is not a lot of time, so avoid spending time on figuring out whether the button would be dark blue or light blue. Some people say that if you aren’t embarrassed for your MVP, it usually means that you spent too much time on it.

I wouldn’t take it literally at a Startup Weekend, because design is also what matters. However, having beautiful screenshots and slides will not help you if you don’t have anything that works.

Step 7 – Prepare the Final Pitch

(image source: Flickr)

Many teams underestimate the power of the final pitch and don’t spend enough time on preparing it. It’s important to realize that your pitch is the only 4 or 5 minutes to convince the judges that your project deserves to win.

Don’t forget that there are going to be 10 to 20 teams pitching. How many of them do you think the judges will really remember?

  1. Your pitch needs to be super smooth.
  2. The story needs to be crystal clear.
  3. The details have to address the judging criteria.
  4. It needs a WOW! factor that the judges will remember.

Of course, the presentation needs to look nice as well. Powerpoint and Keynote have a lot of templates that are good enough.

Now it’s clear that you will need a few hours to do a good pitch. Ideally, one team member should spend the whole Sunday working on it.

However, the final pitch isn’t only about the slides. It’s also about delivering them. Being sharp, full of energy and speaking natural like it’s the most common thing that you do is also important.

Delivering the pitch is as important as the content and one doesn’t work with the other one. So practice, practice, practice. Use the mirror, pitch to mentors and ask for feedback, record the video (or at least voice) so you can hear yourself – I know, it feels embarrassing. But get over it. And deliver like a king.

A secret tip: anticipate the questions from the judges. They will very likely ask similar questions to what the mentors ask you. Prepare the answers. If there is anything that you want to say and don’t have enough time, give the judges only the hook in the pitch. Manipulate them into asking the questions that you want them to ask.

A secret second tip: learn who the judges are and tweak the presentation for at least one of them. For example, if one of the judges is an investor, focus on the opportunity and how big of a company could you potentially be. If there is a judge from the same industry as your idea, spend the most time of presenting to him.

That’s it. Good luck and have fun! Let me know in comments how did it went and if anything isn’t clear.

This was originally published here








Our 5 Favorite Startup Digest Reading List Articles From Last Week

5 hand-picked articles from across the Startup Digest Reading Lists. Sign up to receive great weekly content on various topics from expert curators.

 

1. Amazon is Trying to Patent Paying with a Selfie

By Leena Rao

Digest: FinTech
Curators: Camron Miraftab & Thilmin Gee

Several large companies have recently announced integrating selfie technology for increased payments security. Amazon continues this trend. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bVzGIz

 

2. Instagram May Change Your Feed, Personalizing It With an Algorithm

By Mike Isaac

Digest: Product
Curators: Sophie-Charlotte Moatti & Reza Ladchartabi

Instagram is changing their algorithm to place the photos and videos it thinks you will most want to see from the people you follow toward the top of your feed. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bVzvk1

 

3. Meet The Chinese Tinder

By Emma Lee

Digest: Angel Investor
Curator: Berg Moe

Sudy is a new swipe-based dating app that only pairs rich men with attractive women, especially catering to college students who are looking for financial help on tuition fees. During the seven-month beta test starting in September last year, Sudy has enrolled over 10,000 members, mainly from the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Australia. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bVyu8H

 

4. MIT: Red lights could someday be a thing of the past

By Lucas Mearian

Digest: Mobility & Transportation
Curator: Timo Hoffmann

MIT’s “lightTraffic” vision, with video explaining how traffic lights will become obsolete when there are autonomous vehicles roaming the streets. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bVxg4P

 

5. Iranian Artist using 3D Printing to Combat ISIS

By Isaac Kaplan

Digest: 3D Printing
Curator: Dilanka

This is one of those unexpected uses of 3D Printing with interesting social and political implications. Check it out. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bVyYlP

 

Sign up for these or other Startup Digest reading lists, here.








Our 5 Favorite Startup Digest Reading List Articles From Last Week

5 hand-picked articles from across the Startup Digest Reading Lists. Sign up to receive great weekly content on various topics from expert curators.

 

1. Startups Are Everywhere

By Steve Blank

Digest: Customer Development
Curator: Nathan Monk

Steve Blank has discovered SoundCloud and it is a great thing for us he did. Check out his podcasts and information in this episode of ‘Entrepreneurs are Everywhere.’ Read More

More in this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bTTtF5

 

2. Inside Instacart’s fraught and misguided quest to become the Uber of groceries

By Alison Griswold

Digest: Product
Curators: Sophie-Charlotte Moatti & Reza Ladchartabi

The challenge of on-demand companies to become the next Uber. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bTSB9X

 

3. Facebook Messenger now lets you hail a Lyft car

By Andrew J . Hawkins

Digest: Mobile
Curator: Edith Yeung

Lyft is also expanding its API program, in which developers can use Lyft’s application program interface to embed a button in their apps to hail a Lyft car. The announcement is a sign that API integration is quickly becoming yet another space for these two ride-hail giants to compete with each other. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bTR93b

 

4. An unforgettable welcome for your new hire

By Jennifer Kim

Digest: Leadership & Resiliency
Curator: Sarah Jane Coffey

Every time a new employee signs their offer, the team at Lever records a personalized welcome gif. Sometimes it is the thought that really counts. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bTREBP

 

5. Spend Time with A+ People in Other Industries

By Hunter Walk

Digest: Startup
Curators: Zubin Chagpar & Chris McCann

“From my experience you’ll find that many of them are open to chatting because they’re happy to talk about what they do and want to learn more about technology. So the quid pro quo is that you go to their office, or set up a call, and say ‘Hey, if you’ll give me 20 minutes to talk about what you do, I’ll share some ideas and trends about where tech may be impacting your industry.'” Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bTSSpr

 

Sign up for these or other Startup Digest reading lists, here.








Our 5 Favorite Startup Digest Reading List Articles From Last Week

5 hand-picked articles from across the Startup Digest Reading Lists. Sign up to receive great weekly content on various topics from expert curators.

 

1. I Grew Up Poor in a Rich Person’s World

By Deborah Chang

Digest: Startup
Curators: Zubin Chagpar & Chris McCann

“Entrepreneurs are generally driven to solve the problems they themselves have experienced. The problem with the vast majority of entrepreneurs coming from middle or high income backgrounds is that the problems they choose to solve are not necessarily the ones of greatest impact.” Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bR4yRT

 

2. Did you miss Startup Grind’s Global Conference?

By Startup Grind

Digest: Women Entrepreneurship
Curators: Babs Lee & Lilibeth Gangas

Missed the largest startup conference in the US? No sweat – check out the plenary session on demand. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bR5kHT

 

3. Teens have a smart reason for abandoning Facebook and Twitter

By Felicity Duncan

Digest: Product
Curators: Sophie-Charlotte Moatti & Reza Ladchartabi

New data shows that teens are moving from broadcast social media to narrowcast. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bR49Ij

 

4. The Crowdfunding Guide

By Fundable

Digest: Crowdfunding
Curator: Michael Ryan Norton

A general overview of the elements of crowdfunding and a practical step-by-step guide to building your own campaign. If you think crowdfunding might be the right route for your business, this is a great place to start. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bR4FKb

 

5. Someone is pretending to be the IT guy at Hogwarts and it’s hilarious

By Stephen Daw

Digest: Education
Curators: Aurelio Jimenez Romero, Vicky Guo & Deborah Chang

Meet the Tumblr account bringing WiFi to Harry Potter. And, you thought you had it rough… Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bR4bc5

 

Sign up for these or other Startup Digest reading lists, here.








#SWDub Mentor Series: Nailing Your Target Market

Shane Murphy is Marketing Director EMEA at AdRoll and has worked for over 10 years taking new products and services to market and growing them for brands like Orange and PaddyPower. He is passionate about helping people build and grow their businesses.

On this third edition of the #SWDub Mentor Series, sponsored by Bank of Ireland, Shane really digs in on how to go about nailing a target market.

Too often people immediately rush into executing the first idea they have before truly refining it and ensuring that the concept is set up for success. You must take your core product or service and define a fully fledged value proposition around it. You need to know how to position it, how to price it, what brand tone of voice to use, all these other elements that take a concept and bring it to life for a target market. Almost every single successful company does not have a unique product, they have a unique customer proposition.

The absolute most critical step in building out your full value proposition is defining your target market. From this, all other things will flow.

Ryanair didn’t win because they are an airline, they won because they clearly understood their target customer, defined a “Low cost and on time” value proposition to target that market, and then executed that value proposition in all their customer touchpoints. Similarly the Nintendo Wii didn’t win when it launched because it was the best console. In fact, on traditional metrics such as processing power it was the worst, but it won by going after a different market segment (families rather than gamers) and then executing the value proposition in everything they did from pricing, graphic design, distribution and marketing.

So how do you define your target market? Let’s dig in!

 

Defining your target market

Step 1: Use customer segmentation techniques to build a picture of your market

Many of you will have heard about “customer segmentation” before, this is the art of cutting a market up into “segments” and articulating which one you are going after. There are a number of different types of segmentation all of which have their merits. In order to define your target market I would suggest you have a bash at trying to define your customer across all three main segmentation types:
 

  1. Demographic: what age are they? What sex? Typical job they have? Income level? Where do they live?
  2. Attitudinal: what are their political beliefs? What do they care about in life? What are their attitudes towards your product area? What motivates them?
  3. Behavioural: what behaviours do they display when using your product type? How often do they use your product type? When do they use it? Do they snack on it or binge?

 
You should take creative licence with making as many assumptions as you like. If you had a massive budget you would commission research to figure this stuff out but for the average startup even just using your own intuition will force you to think much more clearly about your target market than most people do.

 

Step 2: Write your ‘Pen Portrait’

Writing a Pen Portrait brings everything you know about your target customer into one place and tries to describe the bullseye customer using the Demographic, behavioral and attitudinal information you mapped out in step 1.

 
Some Questions to ask yourself before writing yours:
1. What’s their name, age, education, sex, job?
2. What are their motivations in life?
3. What makes them happy?
4. What are their fears?
5. What are their political beliefs?
6. What media do they consume?
7. What other brands do they love?

 
Now try to articulate exactly who your target customer is and write your ‘Pen Portrait’. Write it in the first person. Give them a name. Describe them like you were telling a story about them. Below is an example of one done by Yves Saint Laurent. Notice how incredibly specific it is. You might be worried that if you are that specific about your market you will not be mass market enough. Don’t worry about that. If you hit the bullseye customer you will bleed into a much wider segment than you originally defined. If you don’t define the bullseye you will just fade into irrelevance.

 
“My name is Elizabeth Duke and I am 29 years old. I currently work as the PR manager for a top London Public Relations Firm.

I have a keen interest in Fashion, and i like to do a ‘season’ shop, once every 3 months. I buy Investment pieces; items that i feel with withstand new trends and offer a classic and simplistic feel. I like to shop in Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci for the more timeless items, but i also shop at Stella McCartney, especially in the summer months, for the fresh and feminine style of the brand.

I currently live in Chelsea, London in a penthouse apartment with my husband, an Investment Banker. We like to visit our country house in the Cotswolds and also enjoy regular visits to our holiday villa in St. Tropez, France.

My interests include Gastronomy and fine wines, Fashion, as previously mentioned, traveling and experiencing new cultures as well as luxury spa retreats. I like to indulge myself with regular treats, and i take great pride in my appearance. In terms of my dislikes, I am not a ‘bargain hunter’, i have little interest in ‘Fashionable but cheap’ items, and I despise high street retailers who create replicas of the designer brands.

I read Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Tatler; the lower market gossip magazines such as Heat, Closer or More are of no appeal to me. The lives of celebrities should be private and not advertised as a public spectacle.

As far as my career is concerned, work comes first and a family comes later at this present point. I love the fast paced, dynamic and ever changing variety of my industry, and I constantly thrive for more”

Great so now you’ve defined your target market. The next step is to define clearly your value proposition.

 

Defining your Value proposition

A Value Proposition is a statement which outlines how your product or service adds value over and above similar offerings to your defined target customer.

It is a critical statement of intent to outline this value proposition as it forms the basis for how you position your marketing. By defining this you are outlining who you are targeting and why they should care. This then should feed into every element of your marketing.

As mentioned, maintaining proposition consistency is one of the key factors to long term success. Look at companies like Ryanair and Apple, two companies with polar opposite propositions, Low Cost in Ryanair’s case and Product Quality and Simplicity in Apple’s case. They unflinchingly stay loyal to their core propositions and this can be seen in every part of their marketing mix from their communications to their pricing. They have completely different strategies but have achieved long term success by doggedly sticking to their core proposition.

The first step in defining your Value Proposition is to map out your positioning on Bowman’s Strategy Clock. This is a tool used to ensure that you are competing in an effective strategic positioning. Companies who fail often do so as they fail to have a differentiated strategy. Give it a go yourself and make sure you are clear where you sit on the clock.
 

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 17.32.24.png

 

Position 1: Low Price/Low Value

This is a very clear but not very often used strategy. It involves providing an unapologetically lower quality product / service but for a very low price. When Aldi and Lidl launched this is the positioning they adopted to good effect.
 

Position 2: Low Price

This strategy usually requires high volume in order to use economies of scale to drive down costs and allow for a profitable low price strategy. If you are going to compete here you will want to be ready for a price war as the likely competitive response is to drop prices. If you are a startup it’s highly unlikely you have higher margins than bigger incumbents and so this strategy can be risky and difficult to scale.
 

Position 3: Hybrid (moderate price/moderate differentiation)

Companies who compete here offer a low price but for reasonably high quality service. This can be a risky strategy as you can easily send out mixed messages. Also as a startup it’s a difficult strategy to maintain as it again usually requires a higher than average margin to sustain the low prices. It’s unlikely as a startup you are operating at this higher margin. A good example of a company operating here would be Aer Lingus who have started to compete on price with Ryanair while still promoting a quality service message. Aer Lingus have however struggled with this as they neither win on price nor on service.
 

Position 4: Differentiation

This strategy offers products or services of a high perceived value. Often this means that a higher price is therefore required in order to ensure quality is profitably achieved. Branding and quality in every customer touch point is critical to achieve this. Even if you are selling a physical product customers expect a high level of service from companies operating here so ensure that you have invested appropriately in your customer care and other touch points like your retail presence. Apple is a good example of a company who operate effectively with this strategy. High quality mass market products. This quality can be seen in their unique retail experience.
 

Position 5: Focused Differentiation

This position on the clock is reserved for the high quality goods which come with high prices. Designer labels such as Hugo Boss or Ferrari are great examples of this. This position can lead to high margins but requires absolute focus on quality in every customer touchpoint. The packaging of a perfume is almost more important than the smell itself.
 

Positions 6, 7 & 8:

As a startup you should not attempt one of these strategies. You will fail. That is all.

 

The Value Proposition Statement

 
OK, so now you know generally how you want to position yourself and your target customer, you’re now ready to write your proposition statement. Essentially a proposition statement outlines what you are going to offer, to whom, and what makes you better than the competition. Below is a simple template you can use to make sure it’s to the point.

 
Proposition Template:
1.For “insert target customer”
2.Who “insert statement of need or opportunity”
3.Our (product / service) is: “insert product description”
4.That: “insert statement of benefit”
5.Unlike: “insert competitors”
6.We: “insert statement of differentiation”

 
Example proposition statement for fictional online estate agent:

For internet savvy, cost conscious people who want to let or sell their property, The Good Agent is an online estate agent that provides a low cost, flexible solution that gives the customer complete control of the letting and selling process.

Unlike traditional estate agents like Sherry Fitzgerald, we do not charge high commission rates for an inflexible service. We charge one low fee  and only charge for the services the customer uses. If they want to do their own viewings.. they save. If they want to provide their own photos… they save. If they want to handle negotiations themselves… they save. We offer the first truly customer focused  estate agent service.

Shane will be around mentoring and coaching teams at the Startup Weekend Dublin. Do share and stay tuned for the next post in the #SWDub Mentor Series courtesy of our sponsor, Bank of Ireland.








#SWDub Mentor Series: We need more cyber security startups

Paul Watson is a full-stack web developer and current Chief Technology Officer at Storyful with 12 years of experience in the industry. His primary technical skills are in Ruby on Rails, SQL, JavaScript, HTML and CSS. 

On this second edition of the #SWDub Mentor Series, sponsored by Bank of Ireland, we reached out to him to tell us about his role at Startup Weekend as well as his expectations for the upcoming event.

B3EFOBICEAAR_Xv
Storyful’s Web Front-end Developer, Serena Fritsch and CTO, Paul Watson

 

Q. What are your thoughts on Startup Weekend and how have you participated?

I think this will be my fourth Startup Weekend, all in the mentor role, and each time I’m blown away not only by the ideas but by the people there. The organizers and other mentors are the best Ireland has and the teams are so diverse.

I have also come to see that the Startup Weekend is one of the few hackathon-type events that results in long term change, real businesses and ideas come out of the weekend, go on to secure funding, growth, and becoming success stories.

 

Q. What is one sector or space you’d like to see more ideas from during the Startup Weekend?

That will definitely be Security. This is because even since the last Startup Weekend in November there have been further breaches (Sony) and the industry is getting even more investment from all sizes of business.

The industry also needs novel ways of protecting data and systems, the established ways are not working and startups are great at bringing new thinking to an industry. Moreso, social media platforms are lagging when it comes to team based security. The password to your million-follower Twitter account is shared amongst your whole company? That’s crazy!

 

Q. What tip do you have for participants and area of expertise are you happy to help with?

Everyone in the team has to talk to potential customers, not just the designer and the business person. Everyone hears something different when a customer speaks and that all needs to be collected and discussed.

As to my area of expertise, I can help out on all matters technical including: front-end, back-end, infrastructure, but I always need product-context to give good
technical advice.

Use Ruby! Don’t use Ruby! It depends.

That’s it from Paul. You can catch him on twitter at @PaulMWatson. He’d also be around mentoring and coaching teams at the Startup Weekend Dublin. Do share and stay tuned for the next post in the #SWDub Mentor Series courtesy of our sponsor, Bank of Ireland.








Startup Weekend Day by Day Breakdown: Saturday

Startup-Weekend-2013-1

 

Its Saturday morning. You are sipping on your coffee/tea while eating your bagel and wondering, “OMG WHAT DO I DO NOW?!?!?!”. Don’t worry! Here are some suggestions on where to go from here.

Business Model Canvas

The Business Model Canvas allows the startup to document the 9 key areas of a business model. Rather than writing long paragraphs, each of the boxes is filled in with short notes to document the hypotheses associated with the specific sections of the business model. This approach allows the initial business plan to be documented in a couple of hours rather than months. Here is a great breakdown and explanation of the canvas along with some examples: http://www.slideshare.net/esaife/business-model-canvas-101

You should have your first version completed by lunch time so you can move onto customer validation.

Customer Validation

As Steve Blanks says all the time, “GET OUT OF THE BUILDING”. Steve has a set of videos that really cover this topic well: http://vimeo.com/user2776234. It’s really important to talk to your potential customers. They may be in the same room/building, they may be across the street. They may be on Twitter/Facebook. Go find them and ask them the right questions so you can get the feedback that you need.  Some sample questions are:

  • Do you suffer from this problem? What apps/services do you use now?
  • Would you use this idea/product? No? Why not?
  • Would you pay $X.XX per month/year/one-time to use? No? What is an acceptable price?
  • What features would be most important for you?
  • Can get your email so we can keep you up to date with our product?

If you are collecting information via the Internet, you should create a form to collect your feedback. Google Docs allows you to create surveys on the fly: http://www.google.com/google-d-s/createforms.html

Take as much time as you need to work on your validation. You can’t accomplish everything you need in an afternoon.

Based on the feedback that you get, your assumptions will either be proven to be true or false and you will discover things you didn’t think about. Make sure to update your Business Model Canvas to reflect your new findings. (eg: “We discovered through our customer validation that our target audience is not really women, but men!” OR “Monthly subscription was too much. People preferred a pay-as-you-go model. )

Coaches/Mentors

The coaches and mentors will start to arrive at around 2PM. They will walk around the building and interact with all the teams. Feel free to chat with them see how they can help you. They were here to help you so make sure you take the time and chat with them. The mentors range from developers, designers, product, marketers, PR, founders and much more. There is bound to be someone that can help you with what you are trying to do.

For a full list of mentors/coaches: http://www.up.co/communities/usa/new-york-city/startup-weekend/4419

Startup working on your MVP (Minimal Viable Product)

Based on the feedback that you have gotten from customers, you should have an idea on what to build and what not to build. Here is a great article talking about different types of MVPs: http://scalemybusiness.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-minimum-viable-products/

If you have people on your team that can help start building it, then great! By all means, start laying your code. But if you don’t have the developers or designers that you need, don’t worry, you can still use plenty of tools out there to help you prototype your app/idea without laying out code.

http://proto.io/

http://www.justinmind.com/

https://moqups.com/

https://wireframe.cc/

https://www.fluidui.com/

http://www.hotgloo.com/

WARNING: If you decide to go and only make wireframes/mockups, they had better be the best mockups/wireframes that you can produce in a weekend. Don’t draw a box on a piece of paper and say its your mobile wireframe. Bring your “A” game this weekend.

You only have 54 hours. We don’t expect your app to be scaleable to 1MM users. It doesn’t need to hook into every social network platform out there. Your MVP needs to show us (the judges) that you put some thought and effort into app. They know you only had 54 hours to work on it, do the best that you possibly can.

-Andrew Young

Startup Weekend NYC
https://twitter.com/overworkedasian
https://twitter.com/nycsw