Tips for Winning at Your First Startup Weekend

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On July 11, 12, and 13, 2014, Cagayan de Oro will experience its first Startup Weekend. In one weekend, the city’s leaders, leading entrepreneurs, visionaries, IT experts, and success-driven students will converge at the Capitol University to pitch, brainstorm, develop, and fulfill business goals. At the end of 54 hours, participants will have their own startup ventures formed.

The first time you learn about it, a Startup Weekend may seem daunting or overwhelming. But it’s actually like a fun boot camp where you get to share ideas and then turn these ideas into something more concrete. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you shouldn’t miss if you want something life-altering (in a positive way, of course!).

You may not build business conglomerates or an empire, but you’ll definitely find inspiration for all your ideas. For many people, the SW serves as the stepping stone to bigger accomplishments, although there are also quite a number of startup ventures that have continued to prosper long after the Startup Weekend has finished.

So, what does it take to become a success on your first Startup Weekend? Aside from the determination, passion, and courage, there are other things you’ll need to consider if winning is to be your goal for this July’s SW event.

  • First off, prepare for Startup Weekend one week before the actual event. This is the best time to formulate your ideas and to make new connections. Explore possibilities and find out how feasible your ideas are. Find people, friends or colleagues, who might be interested to join the event.
  • On the first night, a Friday, the most important event is the Pitch. This is where you will pitch your ideas to the other participants. A crowd of people – mostly unfamiliar to you – will be listening and weighing in on your idea. You are usually given only a minute (more or less, depending on the organizers) and you are not allowed to use visual aids. Before the pitch starts, talk to people about your idea and try to gauge whether it interests them or not. Do not ask for feedback yet. Just observe their reactions.

    When you pitch, be sure to use simple terms. Make your pitch easily understandable. Every idea begins with a problem, so start by describing this. Then define (in the most descriptive way possible) your solution, proposal, or idea.

  • Choose the people you will work with. Often, choosing the right people will be more important than the idea or proposal that you are working on. This is why it is important to make as many new connections as possible. This is also why you need to ask people beforehand if your pitch is interesting enough. When it is time to form your team, look for the people who reacted positively to your idea the first time you opened up about it.

    It is essential to note, however, that the tide may change and you may find yourself eventually ditching your idea – because you’re not that sure and confident about it – and then join another team with a better idea. If you do not want this to happen, choose the people that you will work with according to by compromising on things. Which concepts work well with them? How much of your idea do they really like? Work towards an agreement that everyone in the team will warm up and then form your team by highlighting everyone’s skills and capabilities.

  • After all the pitching, planning, and organizing, you will need to get into action. Don’t stop with the formation of the team. Get everything going at once; remember, you only have less than 40 hours! The best way to make things happen is to segregate responsibilities. Get everyone on their feet. You won’t win any Startup Weekend if you spend hours upon hours brainstorming, deliberating, and debating! If you assign roles to everyone in the group, the work will be fair and more will be accomplished.

    To keep things organized, prepare a To-Do list, as well as a Done list. Be sure to properly identify the task and the assigned member/s. This will help everyone keep a tab on how things are shaping up.

If you’re determined to make your first Startup Weekend a success, carefully follow these tips. It helps a lot, though, if you carry with you a pleasing disposition and a positive attitude throughout the 54 hours of the event.

For more information about Startup Weekend Cagayan de Oro, check out http://cdo.startupweekend.org/. This global event is brought you us by the Cagayan de Oro ICT Business Council, with the help of Ideaspace, Microsoft, DevCon/Developers Connect, Bohemian Express Travel and Tours, inDinero, Mozilla Philippines and DOST-ICTO.