What You Need to Know About the Judging Criteria

American Idol Judges

We know the judges will love all of you and your ideas. But we also want you to be prepared and know what your product will be judged on, so we’ve broken it down for you in this post.

The Startup Weekend judging criteria is broken up into three sections. Teams are judged according to the following 4 criteria (weighed equally):

  • Business Model

    • Can this idea make money? Is there positive customer growth or revenue? Is there a customer acquisition / rollout strategy? Has a revenue model been defined and is it realistic? Is the idea/team ready for capital and execution? Would you invest in this company at this point?

  • Customer Validation

    • Did the team identify customers (demographic, location etc)? Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers? What channels of communication are used? Product/Market fit?

  • Technical – Execution

    • Is there a functional product (e.g.in the case of an app, did they build one)? Were architecture diagrams and API signatures included? Which services did they integrate with? How much of the product is running on a real server with non-sample data?

  • Design – Execution

    • Does it have a professional look and feel? Does it deliver a compelling and captivating user experience? Is it memorable? What key insights were gathered over the weekend to go in this creative direction?








How to Think Different, Challenge Assumption and See New Ideas

At Women’s 2.0 recent HowTo Conference, speakers shared their experiences with going against the grain to build their businesses. By Vanessa Mason (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)

Ruzwana-Bashir-and-Tracy-Sun-at-HowTo

When Apple and Steve Jobs told the world “Think Different,” they must have had Ruzwana Bashir and Tracy Sun in mind. Bashir and Sun kicked off the first panel for the Women 2.0 HowTo Conference, which was moderated by our CEO Shaherose Charania.

Ruzwana Bashir is CEO of Peek, which helps travelers find and book unique experiences. She came up with the idea after she spent countless hours researching and planning activities for a trip to Istanbul, only to have to call to confirm all of her plans in broken Turkish no less. Tracy Sun is co-founder of Poshmark, a mobile marketplace to sell things from your closet. She came up with the idea when making her cross-country move from New York to San Francisco and had to deal with the dreaded leftover boxes of clothing that she didn’t need.

Check out their tips below to spark new ideas and creativity and shake up multibillion dollar industries.

How to Know if You Have a Disruptive Company

Describe what the world would look like without it. For Sun, a world without Poshmark would be a world with a lot less social connection, delight and engagement without the ability of her passionate users to connect in deep and meaningful ways. Sun was a creative troublemaker since childhood, always challenging the rules and hearing that the questions she asked were not the right ones in school. Startups were a way for her to focus this energy in a way that matters.

Bashir sees how lives and revenues of the small business owners she serves with her scheduling and administrative software are transformed, leaving them more time focus on offering the services they love while increasing their revenue. Having been excited and intrigued about mobile apps and startups for years, she ignored advice to seek more industry-specific experience and jumped into startups during business school. After all, Bashir noted that Nobel Prize winners often make their award-winning discoveries in areas adjacent to their primary field, so why shouldn’t she do the same?

How to Challenge Assumptions

Ignore the naysayers and fake it until you make it. Bashir strongly believes in the power of a good team to get through the rollercoaster of starting a new business. Women especially need to overcome any lack of confidence and insecurity about missing skills by developing plans and strategies to compensate. She noted that investors only really care about your plan and your ability to attract talent that will complement your skills.

While every founder needs to find people who believe in what you are doing and your ability to do it, Sun noted that sometimes your worst enemy is yourself. Founders need to commit to themselves and not allow their internal insecurities get the best of them when hearing all the negativity that comes with pursuing new ideas. To overcome these boundaries, she called upon the imagery of ducks on the water to respond in situations where confidence is shaken: Calm on the surface, and furiously swimming underneath.

How to See New Ideas

Change your reality and try it. Sun played the Nike card and told everyone “Just do it,” adding that it’s best to fail fast and fail often. When looking back at her own pathway to her startup, she wished she could have enjoyed the whole journey, both the highs and the lows. Living through insecurity and doubt has made it easier to cope over time as she has learned from past experience that the fear will pass.

Bashir wished that she had started earlier rather than seeking more experience and following the assumption that certain boxes needed to be checked. Startups teach you how to build culture and hire the right people, experience that can not be acquired through other more traditional roles.

More From These Speakers

How will you start to think different?

Photo by Elvina Beck.








Innovation Opportunities for All Ages

Marbles Kids Museum, Raleigh, NC
Marbles Kids Museum, Raleigh, NC

In our last post, we told you Triangle Startup Weekend Women is partnering with Marbles Kids Museum. Marbles is, “a hands-on, minds-on museum that inspires imagination, discovery and learning through extraordinary adventures in play and larger-than-life IMAX experiences.”

We’re pretty excited about the partnership and think you will be too. What this partnership means is that, while you innovate at TSW Women, your kid(s) can innovate at Marbles…for FREE! Yes, you heard us right, we’ve got FREE passes for your kids to go to Marbles this weekend. Not registered yet? Here’s what you’ll get if you sign up today:

  • Two adult passes per day (Saturday 10/11 and Sunday 10/12)
  • Five kids passes per day (Saturday 10/11 and Sunday 10/12)

When you register, be sure to also register for the Marbles passes. If you’ve already registered and didn’t sign up for the passes, but want to sign up, email us and we’ll get you squared away.

So sign up today for TSW Women and let your spouse, partner, friend or relative take your kid(s) to Marbles. We bet your whole family will be happy with your decision to come to TSW Women!

(Marbles is located at 201 East Hargett Street. Raleigh, NC 27601)

 








Calling All Triangle Parents!

If you have kids, committing to a full startup weekend might seem out of the question. We realize it is a big time commitment, especially for parents. So we’ve designed Triangle Startup Weekend Women to be as family friendly as possible. Through partnerships with both Marbles Kids Museum and Kidznotes, we’ve set up fun some stuff for your little ones to do while you innovate. In this post, you’ll learn more about Kidznotes, hear from their co-founder, and find out why and how they’re involved in TSW Women. In our next post, you’ll learn about our partnership with Marbles and how it will benefit you, the participant. If you’re not a registered participant yet, it’s not too late! Sign up today!

Photo provided courtesy of Katie Wyatt
Photo provided courtesy of Katie Wyatt

Kidznotes is a Triangle non-profit providing orchestral training for underserved K-12 students. If you’re intrigued and want to hear some of their kids play, you’re in luck! Some Kidznotes students have graciously agreed to perform for our participants (and your families if they want to come!) on Sunday at 3:10 PM before presentations begin. Check back soon to get more details about our partnership with Marbles.

 

Today, you’ll hear from Katie Wyatt, the co-founder and Executive Director of Kidznotes. Katie is an accomplished violinist who has performed all over the world and is now using her gifts to teach and inspire the next generation of musicians. Kidznotes has partnered with previous Triangle Startup Weekends and we are so thankful her team has again agreed to participate. To find out more about Kidznotes and their support for TSW Women, keep reading!

 

Question: Why did Kidznotes decide to participate in the TSW Women?

Answer: Because as a founder of a nonprofit and an entrepreneur, and a WOMAN, I think it’s important that I and our girls in Kidznotes have a voice!

 

Q: What is Kidznotes?

A: Kidznotes is inspired by the international phenomenon of El Sistema, an evidence-based system of classical music for social change. Founded in 1974 by economist and professional musician Jose Antonio Abreu, El Sistema offers free classical music training for young children from highly impoverished backgrounds. El Sistema and its global offshoots focus on providing an environment of opportunity through collective practice of music through orchestral playing and choral singing as a model of social organization and community development. Since its inception, El Sistema has transformed the lives of nearly 2 million children.

Kidznotes, in its fifth year of operation, serves 315 K-7th grade students at eight Title-1 schools in Durham and Raleigh. In 2013-2014, Kidznotes expanded into Southeast Raleigh and enrolled 60 pre-K and Kindergarten children in three Title-1 elementary schools. As we scale our Raleigh program, we will work closely with the Wake County Public Schools Superintendent, principals and music teachers to select two additional Title-1 schools with the greatest need in Southeast Raleigh. Kidznotes intends to grow to serve 1,000 students in Durham and Raleigh by 2020, advancing our kids through a system of orchestras through the 12th grade. In its full complement, Kidznotes will keep children and youth engaged and in school, ensuring their successful transition to college or the workplace.

 

Q: What excites Kidznotes most about TSW Women?

A: The opportunity to learn from other innovative women about their ideas in social change, the arts, business, and economic and community development.

 

Q: What advice do you have for TSW Women participants?

A: I love learning about work in fields totally outside of the arts and social change – it helps me think differently about solving the challenges I’m faced with as we develop Kidznotes. I encourage participants to seek out work totally different from their own, and find similarities or totally new ideas, to change the way you make decisions.

 

Q: Any other information you’d like participants or those considering participating to know about Kidznotes & your support for TSW Women?

A: Please come check out our girls performing at the opening of the final pitches on October 12th!








Meet Triangle Startup Weekend Women’s Premier Sponsor: CT

CT

You may have already heard through our press release, website or another source, but we are THRILLED to announce (or reannounce) that CT is Triangle Startup Weekend (TSW) Women’s premier sponsor! Today, you’ll get to learn more about CT and what they do. TSW: Women is the first startup weekend CT has sponsored, and the organizing team is incredibly grateful for their willingness to support the event! So we could hear straight from the source why they are supporting TSW: Women we sent them, and they graciously answered some questions about their involvement. We thought y’all would love to learn more about them too, so without further ado, let’s get to it!

Who is CT and what do they do?

CT is a leading provider of legal and compliance services for businesses of all sizes. More than 300,000 small businesses rely on CT’s expertise for everything from forming an llc, to registered agent and business licensing to ongoing compliance responsibilities. With over 120 years of experience in governance, compliance and regulation, and strong relationships with federal and state legislatures, CT’s service professionals put an unrivaled bank of knowledge to use helping a wide range of clients succeed.

CT is a part of Wolters Kluwer, a leading provider of information, software and services for customers in over 150 countries. Legal, tax, finance and healthcare professionals depend on Wolters Kluwer for the essential information, software and services they need to make their most critical decisions effectively and with confidence.

Why did CT decide to sponsor the Triangle Startup Weekend: Women?

We are proud to support Triangle Startup Weekend as a springboard for aspiring business owners. We fully share in the mission to empower women entrepreneurs, and all those with dreams of launching their own venture. Starting a company is no small undertaking, and we’re honored to provide the Raleigh community with the information and expertise they need around formation, registered agents and other legal services to play a meaningful role in the entrepreneurial journey.

What excites CT most about TSW: Women?

We are thrilled to be able to participate in the startup weekend concept and look forward to helping women entrepreneurs on their journey, helping them incorporate the right way and throughout their business lifecycle.

What advice do you have for TSW: Women participants?

It’s important to make sure you incorporate your business the right way and with an expert. Watch CT’s new spot to learn more about CT’s expertise!

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CT is encouraging all participants to share a picture of themselves with their craft on Twitter @CTCorporation with #ShareYourCraft. Stop by our booth at the weekend to learn more about CT and get a surprise treat Saturday night. Also, we will be giving away 3 incorporation packages to the top 3 teams at TSW:Women!

 

Want more information about CT? Check out their site, or better yet, register today, and come meet them in person at TSW: Women next weekend!








Challenge Yourself To Try Something New!

Stacy Jasper-TSW Health

When I asked Stacy Jasper (pictured above), a participant in the recent Health Triangle Startup Weekend (TSW Health), why someone should participate in a startup weekend, she replied, “To challenge yourself to try something new.” Lucky for all of us, Stacy provided more great advice, and we think it’s too good not to share. So check out our Q&A with Stacy below and don’t forget to sign up for Triangle Startup Weekend: Women, it’s coming up soon!

Stacy is the lead medical writing scientist at Stiefel, a GSK company. She learned about TSW Health through one of the organizers and was the team leader of her team, “Waggin’ Aid.” But she didn’t originally intend to participate in the weekend or be a team leader, in fact she only came to the pitches Friday night to watch and learn. In her own words, here’s her story:

Question: Why did you participate in TSW?

Answer: I work in the healthcare industry, so the health focus of the TSW was of interest to me. My husband has participated before and was planning to attend this event as well, so I decided to go watch the Friday night pitches to hear what topics people thought were important.  While listening, I just happened to think of an idea that I thought could be viable and decided to leap off the cliff of my comfort zone and pitch the idea.  Both the fact that I pitched and that it was selected to move forward were a shock, but I then signed up for the rest of the weekend…

Q: What was your favorite part of the weekend?

A: Learning so many different things and meeting so many different people.

 

Q: What was the most valuable part of the weekend for you?

A: Challenging myself to be a team leader.

 

Q: How did you feel before/during/after the event?

A: Before: Incredibly intimidated.

During: In a complete daze of exhaustion, stress, and confusion (turning around in circles trying to decide what needed to be done next and how to do it).

After: An unbelievable sense of accomplishment for actually participating myself and for having such a small team that really pulled together to create a product that we could demonstrate for the Sunday presentations.

 

Q: Did attending the weekend give you a better understanding of what startups can be?

A: I don’t think it gave me an understanding of what actually working at a startup is like, but the weekend did provide exposure to some of the skill development (pitches, customer engagement) and challenges (developing a viable business model, defining and prioritizing the product features, monetization) that all startups encounter.

 

Q: How do you work with a group of people you don’t know for 54-hours straight?

A: Patience, humor, encouragement, and finding the strengths of each person to form an inclusive team…exhaustion and stress make this difficult, but keep reminding yourself that your efforts to get along will help you enjoy the weekend and will result in a better final project.

 

Q: What advice do you have for future startup weekend participants?

A: You can do it!

 

Our organizing team also believes YOU can do it. Take Stacy’s lead (and advice) and sign up today!








Startup Weekend DC Alumni Spotlight: Landmark, Stephanie Nguyen

Directions for Direction: How Startup Weekend DC Helped Us Find Our Way to Landmark

Written and contributed by Stephanie Nguyen, co-founder and VP of Design of Silica Labs, and co-founder of Landmark | Twitter: @nguyenist

Photo source: Landmark Blog

Startup Weekend DC was my first DC tech event. In fact, I loved it so much I participated in 3 of them. Little did I know I would meet one of my now co-founders, Marvin, the lawyer, in line for free pizza. Startup Weekend DC #2 I met Antonio, the physicist. After winning that weekend and gaining some traction a few weeks later, so was born Silica Labs. We had the right team but needed to focus our vision. For a year and a half, we were completely bootstrapped and working with clients all over the world. We tried many different angles and realized the key was to ensure we were solving a real problem.

Fast forward a few months and we participated in Startup Weekend DC #3. The morning of the event because I was lost among a sea of ivory, beige and antique-white colored DC buildings. In hopes that the map showed my actual location, I relied heavily on following a wandering blue dot. It was this that made me realize we found a problem.

Enter Landmark, a navigation app that provides a more intuitive way to walk using the buildings and landmarks around you. “Go toward Dupont Circle Fountain. Take a left when you see the Starbucks. In 4 blocks, take a right at Chipotle on 19th Street.” This simple concept came to us after realizing how many people experienced this moment: You emerge from the metro and your app tells you to go Northwest. You hope you took the right turn out of the metro, only to find that your phone re-calibrated. The blue dot is off-track. You’re lost. You’re frustrated. You turn around, retrace your steps and begin again.

The time is ripe. Landmark wasn’t possible before today. Now, we have smartphones with cameras, geotagging capabilities, and mapping data sources. There are 350 million photos posted on Facebook and 16 billion photos shared on Instagram everyday. We can now use those beautiful photos of our cities to help people navigate.

As we continue to build Landmark, we rely heavily on the support of the community willing to take photos and share them with us. We would love your help in making navigation beautiful and intuitive. Sign up to be a part of our closed beta today at www.landmarkdirections.com and we will send you a link to download the app. For more information on why we built Landmark, check out this blog post and follow us @golandmark.

In retrospect, spending a weekend (or three) helps you really know people, test your boundaries, find co-founders and develop startup ideas. Startup Weekend DC gave us the space to come together as a team and grow.

 








Startup Weekend Women's Edition: Prizes

Startup Weekend Women’s Edition has be a tremendous experience and success. Thank you to everyone who participated! And, thank you so much to everyone who supported us by sponsoring prizes! Below are the lists of prizes for the top three placing teams.

1st Place Prizes:

  • Nytec Creative Review (w/ Vince Ball)
  • 1 hour IP Consulting with AEONLaw
  • 9 Mile Labs Interview – A Business to Business Accelerator
  • 1 hour of Sophos Law Consulting – A Law Firm specializing in Startups
  • 30-day free Shutterstock Subscription
  • $500 of Elance credits
  • Meeting with Madrona Venture Capitol Firm
  • Techstarts “test” Interview with Andy Sack
  • Mugs

2nd Place Prizes:

  • 1 hour IP Consulting with AEONLaw
  • 9 Mile Labs Interview – A Business to Business Accelerator
  • 1 hour of Sophos Law Consulting – A Law Firm specializing in Startups
  • 10 credits for WeWork Conference Rooms
  • Mugs

3rd Place Prizes:

  • 1 hour IP Consulting with AEONLaw
  • 9 Mile Labs Interview – A Business to Business Accelerator
  • 1 hour of Sophos Law Consulting – A Law Firm specializing in Startups
  • GDI certificate
  • Mugs

Cheers,

Startup Weekend Organizing Team








Never participated in a Startup Weekend before? We've got you covered!

Eleanor Ismail

We know it can seem daunting to sign up for a 54 hour event without knowing what you are committing to. While our site and the global Startup Weekend site have a lot of great information the about what to expect, we thought the best way to find out what it’s REALLY like to participate in Startup Weekends would be to talk to people who’ve experienced them first hand, past participants. So we’ve interviewed two participants from the recent TSW: Health to give us the low-down on what Triangle Startup Weekends are REALLY like and will be sharing their stories with you over the next week.

Today you’ll hear from Eleanor Ismail (pictured above), a Sales Engineer for Eaton Corporation and Florida State University Alum.

She first heard about TSW: Health from the Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s (CED) e-newsletter, Entrelinks (sign up here), and decided to attend TSW: Health because she, “had been tossing around her idea for over a year and the only thing that was preventing her from moving forward was that she needed a team to help develop the product and business, along with coaches and mentors to better guide the efforts and thought startup weekend could be a good starting point.” She also noted that TSW was a “great venue” to test out her idea and its potential and whether it could be successful.

Eleanor graciously answered lots of questions for us, so check out her answers below to learn more about her experience and advice to those on the fence about attending!

By the way, Eleanor has signed up to participate in TSW:Women, so if you are as inspired by her answers as we are, you should sign up so you can have the chance to work with her!
Question: What team did you work with?

Answer: I had recruited 3 women and 5 men who were talented, well educated and excited about bettering the lives of women.  A mix of doctors, engineers, chemists, marketing professionals and web developers. We were called, “Aura“.

Q: What was your role on the team? 

A: I was the visionary, motivator and encourager that coordinated and lead the team to work together, think outside the box and deliver a minimal viable product. I was also responsible for pitching to the judges.

Q: What was your favorite part of the weekend? 

A: Being in the middle of all the energy and enthusiasm that was present.  Learning from a great team, the coaches and volunteers.

Q: What was the most valuable part of the weekend for you? 

A: Networking!  The connections I made at THSW is what fast forwarded my idea into a reality.

Q: How did you feel before/during/after the event? 

A: Before: Anxious and very unsure of what to expect.  During: Full of excitement and anticipation.  After: Grateful, I never worked with such a helpful and encouraging group of individuals before.  I gained a lot of knowledge regarding business and saw new areas where I needed to personally grow and develop further.

Q: Did attending the weekend give you a better understanding of what startups can be?  

A: Absolutely.  It can feel chaotic, but you will be surprised what can be done with a team. You have to be willing to take risks and be passionate.  It’s more than just having a great idea;  you have to work hard, be willing to take criticism and seek out help from others.  Even if my team had not received the award for best overall team, I would have walked away positive knowing I was leaving stronger and wiser.  If anyone is considering starting up a company, participate in a TSW.  You won’t regret it.

Q: Would you participate in another startup weekend? Why or why not?

A: Yes, I never experienced an adrenaline rush quit like I did that weekend.  Was a lot of fun.  I gained a lot of wisdom and knowledge regarding business that will help me in the future.  The possibilities of what else could be learned and helping develop other individual’s ideas excites me.

Q: Why should someone participate in a startup weekend?  

A: Starting up a company is not for the faint of heart.  It takes passion, dedication and hard work.  TSW is a great platform to challenge your ideas and yourself.  It’s also a great environment for personal growth and development, not to mention networking with other like minded individuals.

Q: How do you work with a group of people you don’t know for 54-hours straight?  

A: Good question: You have to be open minded and willing.  It’s good to have a mindset that everyone there is wanting and willing to help.  It’s not necessarily all about winning, it’s more about learning from each other.  Each person has a unique perspective and each perspective should be respected.  And simply, have fun!!!  Take breaks and spend some time getting to know each other.
Q: What advice do you have for future startup weekend participants? 

A: If you plan to pitch an idea, prepare and practice.  Trust me, you will be glad you did.  Step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid and any idea is worth pitching. Even if your idea doesn’t get picked, it’s still worth being apart of another team and you will feel encouraged. You will learn so much. Be prepared to have fun and allow yourself to be open minded. Be a team player. Lastly, have business cards to hand out to others so you can stay connected with those you meet.

Stay tuned for more advice from another TSW: Health participant, and don’t forget to sign up for TSW: Women today!








We Can Do It!

The “Rosie the Riveter” image (pictured above) is iconic. When I see it, I think about strong, passionate women working to accomplish their goals and achieve their dreams. But those thoughts aren’t what the image was originally intended to inspire.  Originally designed by artist J. Howard Miller for an electric and manufacturing company, it’s purpose was to entice, encourage, and empower women to work in jobs typically filled but vacated by the men serving abroad in WWII.

This particular image, and the other propaganda stressing it was women’s duty to help end the war by working in the vacated positions, was wildly successful in encouraging women to work and keeping the industries running during the war. Women flooded the traditionally male-dominated industries (like aviation and manufacturing), increasing the total number of women in the workforce by six million in five years. In the end, the Rosies contributed a great deal to the American economy and the Allie’s victory.

TSWPromoImage_Revised-01

Today, women remain an integral part of the workforce but are underrepresented in many industries including the technology sector, and especially in the startup community.

We all know the stats:

  •  Women-led startups receive less than 5% of venture capital
  •  3% of tech startups are women-led
  •  Men outnumber women at startup weekends 4:1
  •  Women are only 7% of startup executives

To address this disparity and “level the field,” Triangle Startup Weekend is proud to bring you the first-ever Triangle Startup Weekend: Women on October 10th-12th, 2014 at HQ Raleigh.

Like the “Rosie the Riveter” campaign, we hope the event will entice, encourage, and empower women to get involved in the Triangle’s startup community. However, the event is NOT exclusively for women! Our goal is to increase female participation from 20% to 50%, not displace men and discourage their participation. We want men AND women to collaborate, support and encourage each other as they work together to build a startup in 54 hours.

The weekend will operate like a traditional startup weekend, with just a few tweaks to make it more female friendly. For example, we’re working on offering some childcare options so women and men with children can participate.

This is definitely a can’t-miss event, so check out the details on our homepage, sign up on our eventbrite page (earlybird special runs through 9/10 only!), spread the word and check back in for more details!

We hope you’ll join us in our mission to increase female participation in the Triangle’s startup community.

As the Rosies would say, “We Can do it!”