For those who will be participating in the first ever Startup Weekend in Cagayan de Oro on July 11, 12, and 13, 2014 at Capitol University, the 54-hour long event can become the opportunity that they have long waited for. Along with CDO and Northern Mindanao’s finest entrepreneurs, community leaders, visionaries, and goal-oriented students, they will brainstorm, formulate, pitch, and realize business ideas in one weekend. In a span of 54 hours, doors of opportunity may open and lead them to a new path in their lives.
Although the Startup Weekend is not meant to build business empires, it serves as an inspiration and a stepping stone for people who want to turn their creative ideas into reality. It is like a path that’s waiting to be discovered. The journey starts in the first few hours, when participants are asked to pitch their startup business ideas. The pitch, therefore, is the most important element in a Startup Weekend.
However, for who have joined Startup Weekends in different parts of the world, success does not only mean making a good pitch. There are certain rules or guidelines that one needs to follow in order to come out a Startup Weekend winner.
The Startup Weekend Winner
A Startup Weekend winner knows how to make the most of the 54 hours that he is give. To achieve this, he needs to become the perfect epitome of a winner. He needs to know what to do:
- First, he should be a networker. Anyone who networks knows how to build connections. On Friday, just before the “pitching hour” starts, get to know the people who are there. Who are the designers? Are there developers? Befriend them and build a connection with them. Socialize with everyone, including the mentors and organizers. But don’t be an eager-beaver. Stay on the safe, normal side.
- Next, be prepared to pitch. Your idea may be small or simple compared to others’, but it will matter. Just be confident, believe in what you are pitching, and focus on what your end goal for the pitch is. And, yes, do not go over 60 seconds. A person who follows rules will always stand out.
- The Startup Weekend is a war of talents and ideas. Get in with the crowd and recruit people. Have a good recruitment strategy. Focus on a particular audience and relay information, ideas, and other messages that will keep them interested and intrigued. For example, if your target is to bring in the best developers to your team, share with them your ideas about building cool technology. You should be prepared to approach different audiences so your team will be a complete yet diverse one.
- Do not be afraid to ask questions and to be curious. Talk to your possible customers and listen to them intently. Even to what they are not trying to say. Sitting in one corner while exploring the possibilities of your business plan will not bring you any success.
- You need to be a doer if you want to win the Startup Weekend. Don’t stop with visualizing; move forward to the action. Be prepared with solutions to possible problems. Find alternatives. Study the market and come up with high standards. Move, move, and move!
- A successful business thrives on its customers. In order to understand what your customer needs, you have to be a customer. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and share what you discover with your team. This will help them achieve their goals. Additionally, be a real team leader and delegate tasks and responsibilities equally.
- The Startup Weekend ends with another pitch – your presentation to the judges. Prepare for this by setting standards for yourself and your team. Visualize what you want to happen so it will be easier for you to share the details. Do not forget to read and understand the criteria for judging. Practice, practice, and keep practicing until everything is almost perfect. When it’s time to present, give it your all. Think and believe that your future depends on the outcome of your presentation. Think about success. And, of course, present in style!
The Startup Weekend can turn a lot of dreams and goals into reality, but only if real action and determination is involved. If you’re not sure about what you want or you’re planning to just sit around and mingle with people, forget about joining the Startup Weekend. You won’t enjoy it. As in everything in life, you have to have your heart set into it in order to get the most out of it.
The first Cagayan de Oro Startup Weekend is co-presented by The Cagayan de Oro ICT Business Council, DevCon or Developers Connect, DOST-ICTO, Ideaspace, and Microsoft.