The week prior to Startup Weekend
One of the rules of startup weekend is that it must be an idea that you haven’t started previously. However, do some market research beforehand. Understand the competition and how other people are solving the problem and maybe go and casually talk to some potential customers about the problem. You just want to make sure that you are solving a real problem.
It also gives you the confidence that you need in your 60 second pitch on Friday night.
You should also sign up with some of the tools that you might use over the weekend, so you can become familiar with them. We go into much more detail later.
- Typeform (collect results)
- Zapier (link typeform to anything else)
- Stripe (take payments)
Tip: If you have more than one idea, do some quick and dirty customer interviews to find out if people care about the problem you want to solve.
The 60 Second Pitch
This 60 second pitch is the hook to get people to vote for your idea, and want to join your team. You must practise your pitch before the weekend and come up with a catchy name. There might be 70+ ideas pitched, and you need to stand out.
The usual layout for the pitches are:
1. Who are you
2. The problem you are solving
3. How you might solve it (don’t spend too much time here)
4. What do you need
The problem you want to solve might be huge, and it could tick all the boxes but if you can’t get up and pitch it, it will be hard for you to get the best talent on your team.
Tip: Practice your 60 second pitch at least 20 times. Come up with a memorable name so people remember you and your pitch!
Time management at startup weekends
The biggest mistake that teams make is spending time on things that don’t matter. For example the logo, the brand colours, a very specific phrase. One key take away is just make a fast decision, you can change it later if it is a problem.
If you are spending more time discussing it than it would take just to do, make a choice and move on. In an attempt to help keep you on track I have put together a list
You can download this guide, and a few other tips at our website below.
You want to clarify with your team the problem you are solving, and show the evidence you have that it is a real problem.DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE SOLUTION.Focus on the problem and how you will validate that it is a problem.
1. Find out about your team. Why are they there, what is their skill set and what do they want to learn over the weekend. Your job as the leader is to make sure everyone has a good time and gets what they want out of the Weekend.
2. Create a Google survey (Spend 10 minutes or less)
3. Create a Typeform survey form (15 minutes) and ask for phone numbers and email addresses
4. Create a Typeform payment form (20 minutes)
5. Set up first paid advertising and direct to payment form (30 minutes)
6. Post Typeform survey in facebook groups, and other communities asking for help (30 minutes). Try to focus on groups based on the other side of the world. So while you are sleeping, your forms are being filled in.
7. Before you leave plan where your potential customers will be on Saturday. So you know where to find them for your customer interviews (20 minutes)
If you split into groups to complete this it will only take an hour or so. Make sure you use UTM codes in all of your links so you know which channel is giving you traffic and completed survey.
TIP: If the conversion is getting off track, bring it back to trying to validate the problem. It is hard to avoid getting distracted by the solution but you are too early to think about it.
The goal for Saturday morning (or by 2pm) is to;
1. Confirm its a real problem
2. Understand how customers are currently solving the problem
3. Confirm that they would pay for a solution. Saturday morning you have to talk to your customers.
To assist you in achieving this.
1. Call the people who filled in your typeform overnight. That is why you asked for a phone number!
2. Split the team into groups of 2 or 3 and go out and do your first set of customer interviews for 1.0–1.5 hours. Come back share stories, improve and learn from each other. Go out with a different group.
3. Make sure you capture peoples phone number or email addresses to speak with later
You want to use this information later to create a landing page (Instapage, Squarespace) using messaging you heard from your customer interviews.
TIP: You should aim to always have at least two people from your team doing customer validation
This is the hardest period of the weekend. People are tired, hungry and if you haven’t made the progress you were expecting you also might be stressed. This is when teams split up, so now is the time to go and help another team.
The goal by you leave Saturday night is to:
1. Prototype with people using it (As early as possible, but by 4pm Saturday)
2. Sign up more customers with face to face interviews, and then showing them the prototype
3. Draft of your pitch for Sunday
4. At least an iteration of your landing page
5. Ramp up your sales and marketing. See the next section for some hints about how to do that.
6. Help at least one person who isn’t on your team learn something new
TIP: Starting your pitch early helps you identify gaps that you need to fill on Sunday morning.
The goal is to finalise your pitch with just gaps for the latest numbers, and get more sales.
Focus your time on:
1. Running through the pitch, and improving it
2. Fill the gaps and pull together the screenshots and photos from the weekend
3. Speak with everyone who you contact over the weekend and push them to sign up
4. Go out and do more face to face sale for the final push
5. Put your price up if you have had sale to increase revenue
6. Refine the MVP
7. Help other teams.
TIP: Final push so get everyone out to do sales. Calls, Face to face. Prepare for pitching.
The goal for sunday afternoon is to have your pitch polished and locked in. Now you just need to go through it, practise and practise. Go to the pitching mentors get their feedback, and write down the questions they ask you.
I would guess that 80% of the questions they ask during the pitching mentor session will be asked by the judges. So prepare an answer in your backup slides.
In the final hours:
1. Tally up the pipeline numbers, surveys, customers spoken to, email addresses, phone numbers, sales, and dollars
2. Calculate your marketing metrics
3. Refine the wording of your problem/solution to make it clear and concis
4. Understand how you are different to other solutions (common question is “how are you different to XXXX”
5. Run through the 5 minute pitch 20+ times before the pitching mentors arrive.
Depending on the startup weekend you go to, pitches might start earlier than you expect.
TIP: Everyone will be stressed at the last minute. If you follow this guide you will be totally relaxed. So go and help out a few people.