Maximizing Your Startup Weekend Experience

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So, after reading the other blogs on this website you should gain an understanding of what Startup Weekend Evansville (SWE) is and what is expected of participants.  To maximize your SWE experience, I have compiled a few great insights and tips from the Startup Weekend ecosystem that can serve you well as you prepare.

First and foremost, you need to come to Startup Weekend Evansville with an objective. That seems obvious, and you probably think you know what your objective is, but you might want to rethink it.

The assumed objective of every participant is to come to Startup Weekend to win the competition, and launch your startup into fame and fortune.  But, that’s not a good objective for you unless you a) have a team already prepared, b) have been to a Startup Weekend before, c) have a plan to win, and d) have practiced your plan.  Otherwise, you should utilize Startup Weekend to gain experience, discover and build a team, work your plan to win over the weekend, and you will practice your pitch, trust me.

Successful businesses (profitable, fun, low stress, impactful) all have at least one thing in common: They are nothing like the original idea that the founders envisioned.  In fact the value of your initial idea is that, in the process of discovering it’s broken, you’ll come up with your real idea.  So, don’t stay married to your idea.  There are so many people at Startup Weekend, both teammates and coaches, that will open your eyes to the variations and flaws in your thinking. But you’ll need to be able to get out of your own way to see it. In the startup world, a monogamous relationship with an idea is a bad thing.

Idea Stealing?  There is no such thing.  Seriously though, if you have not got it by now, ideas are commodities.  In this context, ideas don’t matter; execution does.  So, you won’t find much tolerance in the startup world for not disclosing the details of your idea.  Not every specific nuance of functionality, but the details.  Everyone has ideas, and everyone would rather be working on their own idea, or with somebody else on an idea which they are passionate about, than stealing yours.  If you can’t take it from here, then check out Dharmesh Sha’s opinion on a Non Disclosure Agreement— just don’t do it.  Besides, no contracts are permitted to be signed at Startup Weekend.  Period.

And now, a few nuggets to guide your weekend warrior mindset:

Friday:

Be a Networker:

  • Go crazy: network like a mad man.
  • Scan: who’s there & who does what?

Be a Pitcher:

  • Don’t chicken out: get your ass in the que.
  • Be confident: focus on the problem
  • Stick to 60 seconds:  stand out somehow

Be an Influencer:

  • It’s a talent war!  Have a recruitment strategy.
  • Customize your message to your audience.

Saturday:

Be a Researcher:

  • Get out! Go & talk to your customers.
  • Tap yours & mentor’s social connections.
  • Listen.  Be curious.  Ask questions.

Be a Problem Solver:

  • Set high standards.  Get stuff done!
  • Size the market.  Quantify the problem.
  • Build a high level solution to the problem.

Sunday:

Be a Hustler:

  • Build a customer persona.  Understand them.
  • Inspire & help your team to reach goals.
  • Delegate tasks and responsibilities.

Be a Leader:

  • Set high standards.  Be visionary.
  • Practice, practice, practice your pitch!!!
  • Present in style

Have an open mind, work hard, immerse in all the possibilities of outcomes, and have fun!!!!!!