How do I Protect my IP?

Reposted from Aaron Birkby (19/03/2015):

This is a great question and we get it quite a lot.  It demonstrates passion and personal commitment to innovation. While the topic will get discussed more fully at the Friday night introduction, here are some things to consider:

  1. Whoever pitches the idea needs to make their IP intentions clear to the team over the weekend.  It is really up to the idea owner to negotiate and be transparent with their team members.
  2. Most ideas have already been thought of somewhere in the world and it is those entrepreneurs that can execute well with laser customer / patient focus that will succeed.   The focus of the weekend is on executing and validating a business, not so much on the an invention or discovery specifically.
  3. There is of course a range of research knowledge and invention where inadvertent public disclosure can be a really big deal.  One way participants can deal with this at a Weekend is to wrap that knowledge inside a “secret sauce” package.  Just pitch that the package does something special without revealing any IP inside, and then focus the team on the weekend to use that package to build a business upon. Sometimes easier said than done :)
  4. There is also a possibility for you to bring along your own Non-disclosure Agreement and convince folk that want to join your idea to to signup (good luck with that!!).  As organisers, we will not be able to be a party to those Agreements or represent them as being appropriate and you may scare off possible collaborators.
  5. If in the end, you are really worried, then just don’t pitch the idea.  Bring along a different idea or join another team and learn through collaborating on their idea.  You will learn heaps about the startup process either way that you can then apply to your original idea later.

As a final comment, there is no formal protection for IP by the organisers at the Weekend.  It is a public event,  the pitches will be made to a public audience and you will be working in an open space with collaborators and mentors.  Keep any secret sauce up your sleeve.

What on earth is a Startup Weekend?

I’m glad you asked!

A startup weekend is a 54-hour weekend event, during which groups of developers, business managers, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus, graphic artists and more pitch ideas for new startup companies, form teams around those ideas, and work to validate and develop a working prototype, demo, or presentation by Sunday evening.

The concept of a Startup Weekend was first introduced to me by a colleague at Startup Mackay several months ago, however it was first Founded in July 2007 in Boulder, Colorado by Andrew Hyde. Startup Weekend is now run by Techstars.

Queensland has seen a recent surge of startup activity, with Cairns, Townsville and even the Atherton Tablelands hosting Startup Weekends.

On average, half of Startup Weekend’s attendees have technical or design backgrounds, the other half have business backgrounds.

Beginning with 60 second open mic pitches on Friday, 60 – 120 attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. Over Saturday and Sunday teams focus on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing LEAN Startup Methodologies and building a minimal viable product. On Sunday evening teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts.

The winning teams are gifted with extremely useful prizes to help them on their path creating their new startup venture.

The Startup Weekend Organization is built around an extended network of hundreds of passionate, skilled, and empowered volunteers around the world. Every event is operated semi-autonomously, with all aspects of the event being planned and executed by a team of local Organizers. They provide a small, full-time Events team which provides ongoing support to each Event’s Organizing Team throughout the event planning process.

As a rule, in order to host a Startup Weekend, the organisers have to attend a Startup Weekend first – hence why I attended the recent Brisbane Startup Weekend at Steve Baxter’s co-owned River City Labs.

We are well on our way to bringing Startup Weekend to Mackay, we already have on board a great organising team, major sponsors, expert mentors, and a great venue.

Now we are looking for participants who are keen to learn, build innovative or disruptive new things, and meet interesting and motivated people!

The ticket cost is extremely reasonable, between $75 and $100 (less for students).  Your ticket covers seven meals, snacks, access to exclusive resources from our sponsors, and of course, all the coffee you can drink.

Examples of Startups created from Brisbane Startup Weekend include &

To join up or find out more, jump over to our website: