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Welcome to Startup Weekend Pensacola! This weekend we will be hosting a 54-hour event aimed at creating new business ideas.

There are distinct steps that occur throughout the weekend, so I thought I would start with Day One.

After a quick registration you will be able to interact with fellow attendees that are just as nervous. Be bold and introduce yourself. Ask others what they enjoy doing, why they decided to attend Startup Weekend, or the standard “what do you do?” One of the best things you will experience this weekend are the relationships you form with different people. Take the time to get to know them.

I know many of you are interested in possibly pitching an idea. Perhaps you’re intimidated or scared. That’s okay because pitching only lasts 60 seconds. It’s almost more nerve-wracking standing in line listening to others’ ideas.

This week make a list of all your business ideas. Spend 5-10 minutes using Google and find out if those ideas have competition and, if so, what kind? Look at their ideal customers, their products and prices, and their attempt to connect with customers. Think of how your idea is stronger or unique. Does your idea capture a different audience, a larger audience, produce a better product or service, or provide more value?

The information you glean now will help you identify your strongest ideas. Select the top two or three and craft a 60-second pitch for each using the following outline:

  • What problem do you want to solve?
  • Why do you want to solve the problem?
  • How will you solve the problem?
  • Why is this problem important?

A strong pitch will help attract people to your idea which is important when everyone votes and forms teams. The top 10 or 11 ideas with the most votes move forward. Yes, you can vote for your own idea.

Once the voting is complete, the projects (ideas) will be announced and team building can begin. If your idea didn’t get enough votes to move forward don’t despair. Use the feedback you received to refine your idea. Perhaps you will pitch a stronger idea at the next Startup Weekend. Now look around the room and join a team whose idea intrigues you.

After quick introductions, your team will research the business solutions and decide on what you will do the next two days. Determine what you need to learn about your new business. The following list will allow you to gather the information you need for Sunday’s Pitch Event. These items will help you identify the key facets of your business.

  • Market Size
  • Customers (go out and ask people for feedback)
  • Value Proposition
  • Product/Service Design
  • Product/Service Development
  • Marketing
  • Business Model

Brainstorming and discussing the business will be an exciting and dynamic time for each group. Value the input of others. Collaborate and create a plan of action. Go ahead and get started or call it a night. Saturday will be a big day!

Brandi Volpe