Introducing the SWAKL team

11/01/2015 | By Laura Kerrison

This post originally appeared on

Startup Weekend is 100% volunteer run; twice a year we hold the event in Auckland. As many of you will know, pulling off an event requires a tremendous amount of work and dedication, which is why we wanted to take a bit of time to celebrate the incredible people who have banded together to bring you #SWAKL November.

We talked to a few members of the team to get some insight on what it takes, straight from the horse’s mouth…

Why do you do it?

Richard (Lead organizer): I was asked to be a mentor a few years ago, which was my first experience with Startup Weekend. I was deeply impacted by what I saw and experienced. The highs and lows that come with the intensity of the weekend bring out strengths and creativity that people never knew they had. It can be a profound learning experience for any who take part in whatever capacity. As a result I decided I’d like to help make that happen for others.

Colart: Four years ago I felt like a corporate misfit with no real home in the New Zealand ecosystem. The Start-up weekend crowd found me and took me in and now I feel like part of a tribe that is making a real difference for the better. By being involved with Startup Weekend I found a way to help others to bring humanity back to business and to build beautiful businesses. Humanity is facing some grand challenges and I see this movement along with others as a natural response which I'm proud to be part of.”

David: I attended Startup Weekend first as a participant. I enjoyed the startup weekend environment and wanted to help others to experience it too.

Laura: I first attended Startup Weekend as a participant in 2013. When I arrived I was completely overwhelmed and felt like I didn’t belong at all. By the time I left on Sunday I was an immensely proud member of a community. This was due to the incredible participants and organisers who were so equally challenging and inspiring over the course of the event. Startup Weekend was hugely impactful in my life, so when the opportunity arose I leaped at the chance to enable people to get involved and realize their potential.

What is the hardest part about organising Startup Weekend?

Colart: The hardest part about organising a Startup Weekend is forming the core organising team and helping this team to stay engaged and functional. There are many moving parts to organising an event like this and it needs a diverse set of skills and lots of capacity. Given this is a volunteer run organisation the challenge is in attracting people with the right skills who are also enthusiastic about helping start-ups.

What is the best part of organizing a Startup Weekend?

Richard: Seeing the attendees get really stuck in to doing their thing at the weekend and feeling comfortable that we have everything rolling for them. It’s also a privilege to work with such a great team of other organisers who have each others’ back.

Colart: One of the most rewarding moments for me has to be in 2013 where a relatively inexperienced Startup weekend organising team managed to pull off an amazing event for 95 participants. It was a combination of support from the wider community, mentoring and guidance from the Startup Weekend national directors and a highly engaged volunteer team that won the day.

David: Lots of hugs from the organising team.

Advice to participants:

Richard: Hold nothing back: get out of your comfort zone, get into your stretch zone and find the edge of your panic zone! Every time you hit one of those boundaries you push it out a bit further.

Go for it with everything you have and push beyond that. The payback is immense and the insights will be realised over future months and even years.

David: Be prepared for a rollercoaster of emotions, from fear, frustrations through to epiphanies, excitement and exhilaration. You’ll love it!