Unsure About How You Fit In This Whole Seattle Legal Startup Weekend Thing?

10/08/2014 | By Aaron Smith

This post originally appeared on blog.up.co

Whether you are on the fence about participating in a Startup Weekend, unsure about what you are going to do while you are there, or are just interested in new tools, here are some resources and ideas to check out that might help make your new startup a success! From getting an idea to pitch, to how to pitch in 60 seconds, to tools that you can use during the weekend, to how to create awesome presentations for the judges – It’s all here!

Now get that startup off the ground!

Here are a few recent articles spotlighting either different areas of law that may be ripe for innovation or how technology might work within the legal field. Skim through them if you are having trouble thinking of an idea to pitch.  It may trigger something!

A few of our very own organizers penned this piece about their vision for an event like this one for the Washington State Bar Association.

The American Bar Association Journal’s most recent issue included a piece highlighting the need for legal services to reach rural America.

The most recent print edition of the Economist featured an article on concerns in our criminal justice system – including the pressure to plead guilty and the increase in prosecutorial power.

For some inspiration: Here are two articles that may be worth reading. This one details how a smart phone app is changing the face of Uganda’s legal system.  This one identifies a current push for R&D in law firms.

Did you know that low-income people face more than 85% of their civil legal problems without the help of an attorney? The Task Force on Civil Equal Justice Funding’s complete findings are available … and they are astonishing. Washington State’s Access to Justice Technology Principles  consider how technology should be used within the justice system.


Please feel free to leave any other articles that people might find interesting in the comment section below.

The 60 Second Pitch. On Friday evening, anybody who wants to pitch an idea for the weekend can get up and plead your case. The kicker is that you only have 60 seconds and you don’t have any presentation materials to help you out. Below is one possible way to develop an idea and figure out how to pitch it.

Pitching – Part 1

It can be nerve racking but ultimately prepares your for future pitches and gives you some control over the weekend (if you attract enough votes).

At some events half the room will pitch. The most business viable proposals are often forgotten. Designers and developers are keen to work on interesting and creative projects. Pitch something that will gain the interest of a team, rather than funding. Concepts that will utilize popular technology are always popular.

i) First, brainstorm your ideas down on a piece a paper by considering the following:

- Problems – What things do I see everyday that I want to fix?

- Pain Points – What really annoys me? What is totally inefficient?

- Random – Whatever else is on your mind?


- Customer – Who is your target market?

- USP – What is your unique selling point/proposition (USP)?

An example of a simple template – Four boxes for each idea (Problem, Segment, Pros, Cons).


ii) Second, pick you favorites and attempt to apply a solution. Think about how the prototype will look and what elements it will incorporate:

- Web based application,

- Mobile based application,

- Social networking site,

- Location based,

- Game based.

You will dive deeper into the product once you form a team.


iii) Thirdly, combine these thoughts and pick the best one or two.

Discuss these ideas with your friends, family and/or colleagues.


Pitching – Part 2


Now you have your idea(s), it’s time to build the pitch. Commonly you only have a minute to sell yourself and idea. Split your 60 seconds into these sections:


- Who are you? (5-10s)

- What’s the problem? (10-15s)

- What’s the proposed solution? (10-15s)

- Who are you looking for? (5-10s)


Remember to smile and be enthusiastic. Keep cool and don’t forget your in a friendly and open forum. You are not the only one a little nervous. Standing out will help people remember you.

At the end of all the pitches you should be given an opportunity to summarize the pitch on a piece of paper. Make sure it stands out and simply explains the main elements of your idea. Finally the audience will vote.

You may need to hustle people to get their votes or combine with others to gain enough votes.

Don’t get upset if you don’t get enough votes. Join a team where you can show off your skills and learn new things. After all, the weekend is all about learning and networking. The idea is not as important as the process.


If you are feeling like you aren’t sure about what you could be doing all weekend … that’s pretty normal. For all of you non-techies out there (and techies too of course), here are some tools that you can get familiar with before the weekend to add some more value to your team.


Business Tools:


Business Canvases are great tools for feeling out all of the different aspects of your business.


Market Research:

  • Create Surveys/Polling:

    • www.AYTM.com (Ask Your Target Market) is a tool that you can create surveys on. You can either pay them for their people to take surveys or use your own lists for free.
    • www.doodle.com is a great resource for creating polls.
    • www.surveymonkey.com is a free (to a certain point) survey and online questionnaire tool.
    • www.Wufoo.com Create forms, reports and surveys. The first few are free and then there are other plans available.
    • EMAIL:


Non-technical tools that can help non-developers:

  • Wireframing: Sometimes you might not have a completely up and running website – but you want to be able to walk through what it might look like. Wireframing is a great way to help people see your vision.



Also Check Out  www.thetoolbox.cc  for a collection of apps, tools and widgets that may help.


Maybe you are interested in learning to code a little bit.  Here are a few places to start:


Some tips for your final presentation:

Check out some of these great tips on how to nail your 5 minute pitch to the judges.



If you are looking for some Presentation tools try these!


Still on the fence? Just jump right in. You'll be happy you did.

Good Luck!