Making Your Startup Weekend Experience Memorable

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If it’s your first time to join a Startup Weekend, all the mixed feelings of excitement, fear, and curiosity is understandable. After all, the SW is massive event that often turns into a life-changing opportunity. And anything that promises this kind of significance is definitely something to look forward to.

But, what if it doesn’t turn out the way you expected it to? What if you don’t know what to do or how to make the most of what’s given to you? It’s pretty simple, actually. All that you need to do is remember what a Startup Weekend is about. Here are five of the most valuable factors that can help make your first SW experience a memorable – and meaningful – one.

Opportunities

Any Startup Weekend offers you endless opportunities for achieving your goal/s and for taking on new challenges. The moment you decide to become part of a SW, you open doors for yourself. And the minute the 54-hour weekend begins, these doors slowly open and it is your decision whether to grab them or not.

Your approach to any SW should be one of determination and courage; the determination to turn your plans into reality and the courage to take hold of the opportunities that can help bring these plans into fruition.

Creativity

Startup Weekends allow you to brainstorm, to dig deep into your thoughts and the farthest recesses of your mind. It teaches you to make the most of what you have. In a span of three days, you are expected to visualize, conceptualize, plan, and develop a startup venture. You will be driven so that you are able to explore your creativity to its maximum.

Being creative doesn’t have to be all work, though. It can be fun, especially at Startup Weekends. Think of it as a game that you and your teammates need to win. And enjoy every segment of the game. Do not hesitate to unleash your ideas and let your creative juices flow. Any idea is good idea if the intention is right.

Relationships

Every Startup Weekend relies on relationships. In the first hours, you’ll have to face a sea of unfamiliar faces and pitch your idea. Thus, you’ll need to find and form new relationships. You may have a friend or a co-worker or two, but most of the participants will be new faces, new people. Don’t be afraid to approach and converse with them. You all have the same goal: to build something from scratch.

The first day (Friday) is always the best time to build relationships. Go around and meet people. Look for those who share your interests, look for the professionals, the entrepreneurs, the leaders and developers. Look for people looking for teammates. Some entrepreneurs may be on the lookout for people they can add to their growing family, approach them. Share ideas, offer your services, make yourself noticed. Interact with other participants as much as you can.

The Pitch

Right after registration, you will most likely be asked if you’re planning to pitch. Be honest with your answer. And it is recommended that you pitch if you are bent on pushing your plans to the next level. It can be a scary experience, what with all your nerves jumping, but pitching will give you an edge over those who decide to just become part of a team. You have to be a pro-active participant in order to get noticed.

Although things may not turn out the way you expect them to, pitching will be a good experience. It will give you the confidence you need. In order to pitch successfully, though, you’ll have to focus on a simple idea; one that can be done in less than 40 hours, and one that can be accomplished by a group of five or six people with different skill sets.

Your idea does not need to be a grand scale one in order to be chosen or picked up. It needs to be workable. So, before you head off to SW, prepare yourself by exploring all the possibilities of your idea. How feasible is it? Will people understand its concept and purpose? Can it be done in 35 hours or less? Ask yourself these questions and try to answer them as honestly as you can. If you do this, coming up with a rocking SW pitch won’t be a problem.

Teamwork

Once your idea is picked up, you will be given the chance to build a team. Picking the people that will complete your team is important because you have a small window of time for working on your idea. Changing team members will waste a lot of time and effort. You need to pick members who are willing to work together towards one goal; people who know how to share and accept ideas and suggestions.

In order to pick the right people, you should have a goal in mind. This goal can be forming a team of experienced people or building one with passionate newbies. It would be better, though, if you come up with a mixed team: experienced people, entrepreneurs, IT people, newbies. Set your eye on freelancers and stay away from groups or teams of employees. Just be sure that each member shares the team’s ultimate goal. Each member should be willing to share their most brilliant and workable ideas.

Finally, make sure that everyone in the team understands the importance of time. You only have hours – not days or weeks or months – to create something out of your pitched idea. Maximize the effects of good teamwork in the best way you can.

Startup Weekends are meant to be fun and exciting. If your nerves are too bundled up, you will most likely end up disappointed after the 54-hour event is through. Loosen up and think of your first Startup Weekend as a weekend game outing with friends. A game that can build the road leading to the fulfillment of your goals.

The first Startup Weekend in Cagayan de Oro is set to happen on July 11 to 13, 2014 at Capitol University. Registration for professionals is Php1,500 and Php1,000 for students. If you register now until May 26, you can avail of the early bird rate, which means you’ll get a 30% discount off the regular rates. For more information and for registration details, check out http://cdo.startupweekend.org/.

SW-CDO is brought to you by the Cagayan de Oro ICT Business Council, with the support of Ideaspace, DevCon/Developers Connect, DOST-ICTO, Bohemian Express Travel and Tours, and Microsoft.