How to Get the Most Out of a Startup Weekend
Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement dedicated to aspiring entrepreneurs (developers, business people, marketers). In just 54 hours, a group of people learn the basics of founding a startup and how to develop the best strategy meant to successfully launch a product or service.
I had the opportunity to attend the most recent Startup Weekend that took place in Iasi where NNC Services was one of the sponsors. Long story short, I joined a team and spent the most gruelling, mentally-draining 54 hours of my life. I soaked up every minute of it and tried to learn, network and build connections as much as possible in just one weekend.
Long story … longer, a Startup Weekend follows this model:
The 60 seconds pitch – This is perhaps the most challenging part. Each participant has the chance to pitch their startup idea to their peers. Depending on just how good the idea is, and how concise and convincing is the pitch, the teams are formed organically.
Finding that kickass idea – Each team must choose the best idea and start developing a suitable market strategy for it. So, all ideas are subject to a vote, and the one that squeezes the most votes sticks.
Developing a great strategy – Once the teams decided on which idea to work on, it’s time to start working on the business model creation, coding, designing and market validation. Therefore, in just one weekend, the teams had to go through the process of building a company, then present it to judges.
What I learned from attending the Startup Weekend
Lesson 1. Creating a business plan from scratch in just 54 hours is not an easy task
After a mind-blowing brainstorming for our brilliant ideas, the first question from our coaches came: “How are you going to monetize this?” Snap back to reality. Our idea was about traveling for free and be hosted by a company that temporary needs your professional skills (for example: A company based in London that needs an on-site IT engineer for a two weeks project can host, for free, a foreign in exchange for his work). Pretty neat, isn’t it? But tell me now, how do we implement it, how do we find the client, the money, the investment, the niche market? These were some of the obstacles that we had to solve.
Lesson 2. Nothing is more important than validating the idea with possible customers
Once you have a landing page and some screenshots, have everyone on your team go out and ask people what they think of your concept. We did the market research and validation online, on Linkedin and Elance and got tons of comments and traffic.
Lesson 3. Don’t waste time building text for your MVP plan
Having a great and complete MVP plan is not going to bring you first place. However, a killer presentation that grabs all the attention is essential. For example, we realised that we didn’t need all that list of benefits, but managed to wrap our service in a different manner that brought us a little step closer to winning. So, we started working on our rocking presentation. We named it the “Pixar Pitch” and it’s about “telling the story of your service” crisply and with clarity in order to capture the crowd attention.
I really enjoyed meeting engaged young entrepreneurs and having a great, diversified team to debate all the business possibilities. Last but not least, the feeling of being part of a community that thought boldly and chose a big problem that resonated with our advanced needs.
This is a guest post by Oltita Volovat, one of NNC Services’ marketing specialists who has been having great fun representing us at the Start up Weekend in Iasi on May 16th – 18th.