A Candid Conversation with a Startup Weekend Veteran
This post originally appeared on blog.up.co
The Startup Weekend team spoke with Rosemary Garry, a three time Startup Weekend participant, to learn about her experiences with the goal of providing insight into what the weekend is like for perspective attendees.
So if you were looking for a sign if you should get your ticket to Startup Weekend, this is it!
This is your sign to get your ticket to Startup Weekend Columbus - if you're a newbie or a returning participant.
But really, check out our conversation with Rosemary to see all the benefits you get when participating at Startup Weekend.
Let's start from the top: Describe the weekend…
Startup Weekends are crazy, really fun events for developing solutions to problems you see in the world. You have something at the end of the weekend that may not be perfect, but it works, and you’re proud of that.
Give me a run-down of your Startup Weekend experiences…
I first participated as a student at Ohio State in 2013. At the time, it was mostly college students and there was this feeling in the air—the energy was really high. We worked on developing an app that pooled together shared expenses and tasks for households in a college environment. We called it Chore Tab.
That first Startup Weekend sticks out because it was just a hilarious, fun collection of memories of my teammates becoming really close friends, one of which ended up becoming a business partner of mine.
So it's safe to say that you had a remarkable first event. What were your other two Startup Weekend teams?
The second Startup Weekend idea I worked on was an idea called Boozy: an alcoholic milkshake. We actually ended up being able to talk to the one person in the U.S. that has the patent for a bottle design that could freeze without the alcohol and milk separating inside the bottle. We had a licensing proposal for our product when it was all said and done and were even able to make an—albeit small— profit during Weekend 1 from selling samples.
The last idea was a product called Fender-Defender. It was a front and rear camera sensor that could tell you when you were in close proximity to other cars. To test out the idea, we made a sensor using a raspberry pie and asked people to parallel-park.
You worked on three different teams each time, what is it like participating as a member of a team?
It’s legitimately fun to build things with people you’ve joined up with. Part of the team building process is to ensure that you’re on a team that you vibe with, which is critical for having fun and building a MVP (Minimal Viable Product) by the end of a weekend.
Something that you mentioned to us is that not only did you participate with three different ideas, you also won or placed with these teams! Tell us, what's the secret sauce to winning?
Follow the instructions! It’s surprising how many people don’t read the instructions for presenting to the judges. I’ve seen amazing concepts that would have won if they just included more details around their business plan and put financials in their presentation.
Also, actually make something. The point of Startup Weekend is to make something out of the weekend, to show that you tried. Part of the fun— a lot of teams forget— is creating a product that functions, even if just barely. It is probably going to be terrible and that’s okay!, The point is that you tried something and got your hands dirty.
What kept you coming back to Startup Weekend?
The thing that kept me coming back… it’s so rare to find a room where you have a really, really high chance of working with a team that you’ll get along with and that you can build something with over a weekend. You’ll be having fun and laughing, doing yoga, hanging out, eating chipotle… it’s that environment that kept me coming back.
Would you say that you grew as a participant?
Definitely. You can’t negate that it’s a skill building tool; public speaking and teamwork are the greatest drivers of success in an office setting and Startup Weekend is a training ground for learning how to succeed in that environment.
What are some of your best memories?
During my second weekend when I worked on Boozy, we had a really, really late night trying to make the boozy ice cream/milkshake. We ended up finding a soft serve machine that we were able to borrow and started making ice cream. Making ice cream is really technical and frustrating, but because you’re working with friends it was fun. We had a very, very, very big fail where all of the alcohol and ice cream just exploded from the machine and went all over one of our teammates. In the middle of the event space, she’s just standing there covered in milk and bourbon and it was hilarious.
All of my best memories though are ones that traditionally might have been fails, but because the weekend is all about learning, having fun, and doing something with fellow entrepreneurs, I don’t remember them that way.
If you were talking to someone who was on the fence about attending, what would you say?
There really isn’t an environment that is as forgiving as Startup Weekend. There aren’t expectations, there isn’t a bar you have to hit, or an idea that you have to create something that’s perfect.
There are no limitations, no expectations, and you have the ability to grow in whatever you’re working on. For me, I attended Startup Weekends and really wanted to work on public speaking. There is no other (traditional office) environment where you can be the youngest member of a team and pitch an idea to a board of directors. You just usually don’t get to practice like that unless you’re doing it for real.
Amazing. Thanks for sitting down and talking with us Rosemary! You summed up some of the best takeaways from the weekend: you get to meet incredibly smart people, be in an incredible environment, and challenge yourself to create something you didn't even think possible.
It's time. Get your Startup Weekend ticket now.
A little bit about Rosemary Garry - Three time Startup Weekend participant and winner!
As a startup enthusiast, Rosemary served as President of Ohio State University's student entrepreneurship organization. Founding several of her own concepts throughout college (often through events like Startup Weekend), she discovered her biggest passion in her business consulting startup, specializing in new growth opportunities, consumer insights, and marketing strategies. In addition to her side hustle as a small-scale landlord, she now works as a Strategist an marketing agency specializing in data science optimization.