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As you probably know, I’m a huge fan of Startup Weekend. Why? Because it’s simply the most efficient way to quickly start any project, test it and gather a team.

Many people:

  • complain they cannot find any co-founders. Go to Startup Weekend!
  • do not know where to start, as they’ve never done this before… Go to Startup Weekend!
  • want to polish their Business Plan (!) before going to potential investors or customers… No, rather go to Startup Weekend!
  • dream their project instead of projecting their dream. What is the value of thinking about a project for months/years but never acting? Is there no best allocation of your time / brain power? You’ve understood it by now: Go to Startup Weekend!

I’ve participated to many editions as a jury member (in Lausanne and Neuchâtel) years ago, before organising 3 of them on my own (one in 2012 in Saignelégier, in Biel/Bienne in 2015, 2016 and 2018). This year edition will taking place in exactly 3 weeks, on March 22nd.

Startup Weekend in Biel/Bienne is quite different from the other SW events across Switzerland: we limit participation to 5o people, we have participants from 20 to 60 years old, higher proportion of people coming from the industry (whatever the industry) and we do a 3 languages event (Biel/Bienne is the biggest bilingual – German and French – city in Switzerland, to which we add English).

For those who are new here, let me summarise what Startup Weekend is:

48 hours to launch a startup ! Startup Weekend is a hands-on event, where people learn by doing.

I’ve written a small explanation about how it works (below) and you can also watch a little video we did for last year edition (end of this post).

How does it work ?

Startup weekend starts on Friday evening with a pitching session: every participant has the opportunity to present a startup idea in 60 seconds (not more, no slides)!

All the participants receive virtual dollars to invest in 3 projects. After the pitching session, the entrepreneurs do their best to convince people to invest in their project (if you’ve never raised money for a project, you’ll learn that you have to fight and be creative, from the beginning!). The 8-10 most funded projects will then be selected, and the project managers / entrepreneurs now have to recruit and motivate a team to work on the project during the weekend.

All over the weekend, participants work on the project, get time to network, learn from entrepreneurs sharing their experience, and are constantly supported and challenged by experimented coaches and entrepreneurs. The goal is to accelerate the development of the startup and to mobilise each people’s energy toward a common goal.

The last hours of the weekend are mostly invested in preparing the presentation to the jury. In less than 50 hours, the ideas are transformed into projects.

Who can attend?

Startup Weekend is open to ANYONE interested by launching a project. It can be a startup, a new business or service, or even launching a new association. There is a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, but anyone can learn very solid skills in “how to start”. Participants of startup weekend vary from  students to top managers, from consultants to housewives or even retired professionals. There is often a focus on web and mobile projects, but it can be really any kind of project.

SW gathers energetic and passionate people, independently from their age, experience or skills.

Startup Weekend is a unique way to bring together people from various horizons with complementary skills and is emulating and boosting creativity, as well fostering synergies and long-term relationships. The weekend is an amazing manner to test its ideas without any risk and have a condensed overview of what the startup journey could look like!

And after Startup Weekend?

Participants are encouraged to participate to the startup & innovation events happening across Switzerland. Many previous participants started their project at Startup Weekend before applying to support initiatives, prizes or attending training workshops to complete their skills.

Around 30% of projects are still alive 6 months after the Startup Weekend and 90% of the participants keep in touch, therefore fostering and developing the startup culture.


Startup Weekend 2018 - Promotion video
Sebastien Flury