Lessons Re-Learnt from Startup Weekend #IYW

Few weekends back I attended ‘Startup Weekend’ here in Melbourne. The intention was to live the experience of working on a startup story and developing a prototype over a weekend. More importantly to be a part of a team, which I did. Experience the pivoting and to be a good listener.

I knew that I will re-learn a lot of things in the 3 day event that I attend. I just wanted to live through some of the experience in ‘Entrepreneurship’ having read so much about it over the years. I have already experience a failed attempt at starting something on my own before.

The format of the ‘Startup Weekend’ is as follows in a nutshell:

  • People pay up to $99 to attend a 3 day event (Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday)
  • Attendees can decide if they want to pitch their idea. If they do, they will get a set amount of time to do so in front of the whole audience (can be daunting to some)
  • People vote on the pitched ideas
  • Teams are formed (attendees work out on which idea they want to work with and if they have skills required or that can be offered)
  • Formed team start brainstorming with an intention to produce a prototype product by end of Sunday evening to be presented to the audience.

"Portrait Parle" Class, Paris (LOC)
Here is a list of things that I learnt/re-learnt through 3 days.

Pre-network – This is an important aspect. Like anything else, networking activity works best before you need people to work with you, not just in time. Make people your fan and wanting to work with you even before they hear your idea.

Be persuasive – Just because the most persuasive wins the race (most of the time if not all the time).

Be clear in your pitch – Practice your pitch before hand, not once, not twice but 20 times or more. Be really really clear on what message you are going to deliver in your pitch. This applies not only for startups but even if you are going to pitch an idea to your manager or your neighbour.

Be creative with the messaging – Yes, be creative. Don’t make your pitch using a boring PPT Slide or a bullet points scribbled over a butcher paper. Have great examples, have humor and have fun.

Developers are in demand and they sell fast

Networking – be open and network more

Smile and smile more

Non-developers – if you are not a programmer than you have to be more persuasive

– get better at selling yourself and your idea

– attract people

– be original

Passionate, creative, fun loving people win more often

– be excited about your own product

– Come up with Useful products and disruptive ideas

– Choose your team wisely

– Focus, focus and focus. Focus on the core idea and take things from there

– Have clear expectations and clear delegation of work

– Talk less, work more

– Cut the bullshit

Nothing new is written here that hasn’t been written 10,000 times before already if not more. But it was very consistent that the people who did not have their ideas selected, people who did not win or did not get a huge level of support lacked in some of all of these areas.

2 thoughts on “Lessons Re-Learnt from Startup Weekend #IYW

  1. Hello,

    I have been following this start-up via their blog closely. As you know, I may fall into non-IT categorical in your list, which you have mentioned in your post. However, I ‘Love IT’ and the ‘power of IT’, which has changed our life and will of course continue to do so [for better] over coming decade.

    One thing you may suggest/think of, what is NOT working well in this side of market – Sth Pacific or Sth East Asia? Especially for developers + those who comes with an idea to develop something to make an impact [may be en entrepreneur].

    * Do you see funding is an issue/challenge? Or;
    * Do you see lack of platform, such as Start-Up Weekend Melbourne, to support these enthusiastic Entrepreneur/Developer?

    I would be keen to find out what’s your view on this.

    Thanks,
    Neel

    1. Neel, to me there are lot of small initiatives such as Startup Weekend Melbourne and other things happening throughout the Australia region. I think the key thing I see here compared to US and Europe is lack of infrastructure for entrepreneurs and startups, both in terms of funding and the culture. I was talking to the CEO of a venture fund recently (this guy heads up Venture Fund for Optus) and he thinks that the VC’s, Angel’s and the startups are learning slowly from the startup culture in US of A and learning and integrating from it. But again the markets are different here compared to that of US. A lot of successful entrepreneurs move to US once they have had some success with their product.

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