How to Rock Your Startup Weekend
This post originally appeared on blog.up.co
Startup Weekend events are a great place to interact with other ambitious and passionate people. Hell, you might even start your first company. So, if you really want to rock your Startup Weekend Women, you better make sure to get the most out of it!
1. Do your Homework
To be well prepared, you need to do some homework. Do as much research and preparation around your idea as you feel is necessary to give a persuasive pitch and attract a team. No matter how weak your idea is – get up and pitch. But make sure you boil your idea down to the basics, becaue you only really have time for a hook. So, pull out the most attractive key points of your idea and forget the rest. Practice to clearly articulate the problem you want to solve and finally let people know who you need to turn your idea into a reality. Also do research and check out popular startup methodologies and be prepared to draw on this knowledge. Startup experts have developed frameworks like the Business Model Canvas or Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas to plan and implement your idea from concept towards a working business model. The key things to know are how to generate and evaluate an idea, perform some kind of customer validation, designing and building of your minimum viable product (MVP) and business model design. And don't forget to pack your bag: Pack a pen, paper, laptop, business cards, enthusiasm… and get ready for an exciting 54 hours!
2. Build Your Network
Startup Weekends bring together a pool of passionate and talented individuals just like you. So, this event gives you an opportunity to meet and impress like-minded people. Get in contact with people prior to the event and start speaking to those attending. You can do this in real live at one of our pre-events or check out the social media sites. To have a great start on the weekend, make sure you start meeting people as soon as you arrive. Don’t worry everyone is as nervous as you! Prior to the initial pitch, people already get to know each other and exchanged ideas over some drinks. You will be in a room with 60-120 high-energy entrepreneurs – and everyone wants to meet people. You might be talking to your future co-founders, developers, or idea generators. Have fun, bond with people and stay in touch with people after the event. You never know who will become your most trusted advisor. These are some of the coolest relationships that you’ll form in your life.
3. Find complementary skills
Teams with complimentary skill sets perform most efficiently. So, keep in mind that you need to find people with complementary skills to help build, test, and validate your product. You’re pitch only lasts a minute so the selection phase gives you more time to let people know the merits of your idea and the problem it is solving. There are four core areas that you need to focus on during the event: customer validation, designing and building of your MVP, business model design and final presentation. Therefore it's good your team consists of one business guru or marketer, one developers if possible and one really great designer. As you assemble your team it is critical that you are totally honest and transparent with your intentions for the weekend and after. Always focus on building trust and motivating your team. If you’re joining a team, make sure you believe in the idea and more importantly make sure you get along well with the people. Be honest about your skills and sell your self accordingly - everyone comes to a Startup Weekend to learn something new!
4. Work smarter, not harder
The mantra of Startup Weekend is “No Talk. All Action”. However often teams spend too much time on details and discussing less important things in a big group. Never lose sight of the big picture! At Startup Weekend it’s all about kicking ass at developing your product (this may be a product, a service or anything that can be offered to a market that might satisfy a want or need). The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then doing some customer validation and developing a MVP as a solution addressing this problem. So, build a strategic plan and core business model around your idea and don’t worry about the administrative stuff, that doesn’t need to be perfect and you don't want to get lost in details. If you focus on a building a quality product, you’ll find that that is what continues to have value beyond Startup Weekend. Also don't try and build something from scratch when there already exists a great solution. Check out frameworks like e.g. Twitter Bootstrap and have a look at our list of 70 Awesome Tools for Growth Hacking and Bootstrapping your Startup. Live demonstrations of prototypes are always great to have by the end of the weekend. But don't spend too much time on getting things working. In the end you need to convince the jury by selling a vision and having a proper business model.
5. Engage with coaches and seek the help of mentors
During the Startup Weekend there are many smart people who are ready and willing to help you and your team. Make sure to take advantage of them. The quality of the mentors over the weekend is amazing. Determine where your team needs the most help and apporach the best mentor accordingly to gather their feedback and opinions on your idea. However the time of coaches and mentors is limited and they will be requested by many teams, so be preprared to ask the right questions and try to get most out of the time they spend with you. They all do best to share their experience and give you another perspective.
If you want to startup your own business and have some fun, we are sure Startup Weekend Women Hamburg will be a life changing experience for you! For many, Startup Weekend is the start of something bigger, so make it count!