5 tips going into Startup Weekend

The June edition was my first experience with Startup Weekend Dublin and it was worth my while as you can find in my daily recaps here, here, and here.

It’s great to be back this time as a co-organizer working along side a team that allowed me develop both an idea and myself under 54 hours. So in retrospects, here are 5 tips I’d like to share with you going into the weekend to start something amazing.

 

1. Be open to new ideas

My favourite ideas pitched at the last Startup Weekend where those that were thought up during the weekend, so be open to coming up with and listening to people with new ideas. It’s definitely easier to have a new team excited about an idea they all chipped in to form than another just one person brings to the table with an attempt to get a buy-in from others.

 

2. Be friendly and get talking

Smile. Walk around. Say hello to people. The weekend is meant for more of collaboration than competition. Get talking to other people, volunteers, organizers, the photographer, and the chef. They may just be the future customers that will validate your idea or give that priceless feedback. Everything to gain and nothing to lose by being friendly.

 

3. Leave the building

I cannot stress this enough. Get out of the building and get talking to prospective customers. If possible go ahead and make a sale. One thing you want to get out of Startup Weekend is to validate your idea and business model. So spend a good time having customer interviews. Call people up for feedback  and cold call to make sale if need be.

 

4. Network with mentors

These folks are industry leaders, technical superstars, business gurus, growth hackers, and more – and they will be hanging out with you all weekend. Use them! I remember last Startup Weekend when just a 2 minute conversation with a mentor cracked open the code on our business model.

5. And most importantly, have fun

No matter what happens this weekend. Don’t forget to have fun. Work hard but play harder. Don’t go running home and missing out on after-drinks. Take a break, ride the seesaw and try the gaming console. There’s also a #swdubselfie competition so don’t miss out on that.

That’s all for now. Follow @swdub on twitter and vine and share your experience with the hashtag #swdub.








Startup Weekend Day by Day Breakdown: Sunday

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Its 9AM and you only 8 hours left and there is still so much to do!

Validation!

Validation never stops. You can never have too much feedback from your potential customers. Keep at it.

Your MVP

By now you should have a refined MVP that is either working on the web or on your local laptop. You will be working on it till the last minute before your presentation so keep building!

Coaches/Mentors

There will be some coaches and mentors coming around on Sunday as well. Use this time to get some feedback on what you have done over the 24 hours.

 

Preparing your presentations

All work stops and presentations start at 5PM sharp. You will have 5 mins to present your idea and demo the app. The presentation is followed up with 5 mins of QA from the judges.

Nick Stevens, an awesome organizer out of the UK has put together a great mini-guide on creating your Sunday presentations: http://www.slideshare.net/NickStevens1/sw-prishtina-presentation-101 and https://medium.com/startup-weekend/presentation-101-c4a356fcb16e

In NYC, we like to hold “presentation dry runs”. We have the teams pitch what they have done so far in front of some coaches/mentors to get some feedback. Each team will get 10 mins (5 mins for presentation, 5 mins for feedback). This is completely optional.

So hopefully this mini-guide helps you throughout the weekend. This guide is a living document and will get better over time with feedback from you folks. So if you have a suggestion on how to make this guide better, send them along!

-Andrew Young
Startup Weekend NYC
https://twitter.com/overworkedasian
https://twitter.com/nycsw








Startup Weekend Day by Day Breakdown: Saturday

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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