This weekend marks the end of Global Entrepreneurship Week Tampa Bay, and it’s ending with a bang: the Tampa edition of Startup Weekend! It’s a 54-hour whirlwind event where you get to be part of building a business in a weekend, Silicon Valley style. It’s about pitching, business model creation, prototyping, designing and market validation all in a friendly and supportive team environment, and in Factory 114’s beautiful coworking space.
If you’re participating in Startup Weekend, you’re probably wondering how to maximize your chances of winning. If so, this article’s for you!
- Designate a project manager from the get-go and define your methods of communication. Pick someone to coordinate the effort, and stick to the simplest possible communication tool that everyone on the team is familiar with.
- Work backwards from the end product. Hackathons are chaotic events often held in noisy spaces, and it’s way too easy to get sidetracked, go down technical rabbit holes, or just talk over each other. Keep asking “What’s the goal? What do we want at the end of these 48+ hours?”
- Divide and conquer. Come up with a rough idea of the solution and how you’ll get to it, divide the problem into smaller pieces, and split your team into pieces by skill set to tackle those problems.
- Validate, validate, validate. Not just your code, but your product idea. Talk to potential customers, either in person, or online!
- Check in with your teammates. “Sure, this is touchy-feely and didn’t contribute to hard development, but it helped us become a unified team.”
- Take advantage of free advice, but be specific in your ask. Startup Weekend-style events often provide industry experts, and you should make use of them — that’s what they’re there for! Just be aware that they have to support other teams, so be sure to have questions on specific topics for them, and not just general hand-wavey ones.
- Show your team you trust them. Don’t micromanage. “Take a leap of faith and let them take a stab at delivering. Then give them your feedback.”
- Laugh. Have fun. Sometimes, this is the easiest thing to forget.
- Be authentic. “The final pitches that grabbed my attention (and stopped me from glancing at the #swyyc Twitter feed), were the ones where the founder was clearly passionate about the idea and it showed in their eyes.”
- Take care of your body: Hydrate. Eat well. And sleep, somewhat. “Don’t just stock up on the sugary treats and salty snacks. Eat lots of fruit, veggies, and get your protein.” Also, a little sleep can go a long way — make sure you get some!
- Read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. If you don’t have time to read the book, watch Eric Ries’ 2011 talk at Google on the topic, which he gave when he was still writing the book.
- Have a rough idea of your business model. “If you’re going to be pitching an idea, then you should have a basic understanding of how that idea can be turned into a real business.”
- Do your research. Who are your competitors? What strategies are similar companies using? Who are your key influencers?
- Get to know your fellow participants. You’ll need to do this in order to build your team.
- Build your team by selling yourself and your idea. Your pitch format should be along these lines: “Hi, My name is _____ and I’m here today to invite you to join me in <business name> that <main value prop>. My background is in <relevant background> and I’ve seen a problem/opportunity where <problem/opportunity>. I think we can solve this by <how you do it>. I need <mobile app developer / web developer / UX designer /etc.>
- Set Friday night goals. 1. Quickly do introductions amongst your team, and sort out roles. 2. Quickly revise your business model canvas, with new input from your team. 3. Register a domain and setup a landing page with an e-mail capture. 4. Work out what your MVP is going to look like.
- Saturday: Build it and sell it.
- Sunday: Pitch! Focus on 3 things: Is it pretty? Does it work? Can you sell it?
How to Win Startup Weekend (Prague, early 2018)
Code Without Code’s How to Win at Startup Weekend, Parts 1 and 2
- How to Win a Startup Weekend – Step-by-Step with a 100% success rate. If you’re on the biz dev part of your Startup Weekend team, you’ll want to read this.
- Winning a startup weekend: the Silicon Valley way
- How To Win Startup Weekend, And How I’d Change It
- How to Do Everything Wrong & Win Startup Weekend
- Cheat code: How to win a hackathon
- Ultimate 8 Step Guide to Winning Hackathons: What I learned after 55 Hackathons
- 7 Steps To Winning A Hackathon