So the first ever Startup weekend Vancouver has come to and end and my head is still spinning. Maybe it had something to do with the celebratory beers last night, but it’s more likely from the flurry of brainstorming/designing/coding I’ve done in the past 54 hours. It was an absolute blast and I can’t wait to do it again. We all thrive when surrounded by positive, creative people and this event was chock full of them. My head is still generating ideas and pitches for the future, but I’m going to put that aside for a moment and reflect on the experience this past weekend.
So here are my thoughts and tricks for what it takes to have a successful experience at a Startup weekend:
1. Keep it small. While your app or product can have bigger ambitions in the weeks and and months after the weekend, focus on a core task that can be executed by your team in just over 2 days. E.g. The winning team this weekend made an iPhone app that would take a photo of someone who frustrated you and let you ‘squish’ their head on the screen. Our team focused on a very simple connection portal to link up people who have bright ideas to those who can execute them. We pared this idea down to be be a team-builder app oriented towards events like Startup weekend
2. Know where your team’s weaknesses are and work around them. We didn’t have a graphic designer or UI person on our project but were able to borrow one from another team to give us a last minute tune-up (thanks James)
3. Worry less about your team size and more about the group dynamic and complementing skill-sets.
4. Take time to re-generate Remember, this is a fun competition. Winning is nice but don’t kill yourself striving for it. Our team spent the final hours before the final presentations walking around Vancouver. This allowed us to get re-energized, refreshed and bond over something besides code and business pitches.
5. Expect the unexpected. We got an immeasurable amount of feedback from a random guy on the street! This fellow (Darin) was wandering around Gastown and got curious when he saw a flurry of tech-related activity late at night on a holiday weekend. He approached one of our members who was on a break outside the building, and all of a sudden our team knew an ideas guy who was an expert in crowd-sourcing apps. He spent a good portion of the evening helping us refine our idea (thanks again Darin!)
6. Mingle with the other teams. It’s easy to get tunnel vision on your own project so spend some time seeing what others are working on and how they are doing it. It might give you some ideas for your own project. I can’t over-emphasize how nice it was to have an outsiders perspective on our app along the way. It altered direction several times because of this.Find out what resources are available and take advantage of them. The organizers are well-connected and will put you in touch with any people or resources they can. All you have to do is ask
7. Have fun! This is obviously the most important point, and the reason we all signed up
For an overview of the startup ideas built this weekend, check out Shauna Causey’s post at:
The 6 Pitches