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A friend tells you that Startup Weekend is coming to your city in a few weeks, that tickets are on sale now and urges you to go with her.  The ticket price is reasonable and Startup Weekend sounds like a cool experience but you’re unsure of what you’ll get out of the event.  After all, you’ll be giving up your entire weekend to work with a bunch of strangers. It seems fair to ask: What’s in it for me?

Andrew Kinzer, an attendee at last weekend’s Seattle University Startup Weekend, asked himself that question when a friend first suggested he attend the event.  But then Andrew’s friend told him that Startup Weekend was a great opportunity to meet engaged and passionate people and Andrew was sold.

A Passion to Create

“Finding people who have passion and drive, people who are engaged by innovation, is hard to do in the real world,” Andrew explains.  “How do you know how someone is going to react to pressure? Are they friendly? Do they want to collaborate? At Startup Weekend people have a friendly, collaborative attitude.  They go all the way because they love startups.”

Cooperative and hardworking people are the rule, not the exception at Startup Weekend.  As Andrew says, “The culture of Startup Weekend is that your team makes extreme asks of you—I was working until 4 AM on Saturday night and our developers worked straight through—so you gun it for the weekend, you gun it to integrate with your team and build something meaningful.”

Improving Your Team and Yourself

You change yourself as well.  Spending 54 hours working with people with intensity and drive caused Andrew to learn something new about himself, “I entered the startup scene a year ago and, previously to Startup Weekend, had never developed a full product independently.  Working with my Startup Weekend team I realized that I had the ability to answer questions, execute, and lead a team when needed.  I’m not just a designer; I’m a product developer and a leader.  It was a very empowering realization.”

Startup Weekend, as the name suggests, is all about startups.  But startups live and die by their people, not the ideas.  Startup Weekend is an opportunity to meet like-minded people and develop ideas. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to learn something about yourself, and that is an investment that lasts much longer than the weekend.

At Seattle University Startup Weekend Andrew Kinzer and his team worked on StyleCast, a social application on the web and mobile devices that helps friends connect over the fashion purchases that define their sense of style. Users can snap photos, share, and find other inspiring people to follow. Go to stylecast.me to learn more.