Startup Weekend Tips

As you may already know, there is another Startup Weekend in Albuquerque starting this Friday. (For more information about this weekend, check here. For more info aboutSCcartoon Startup Weekend events, check here.)  These weekends are great if you’re interested in any kind of entrepreneurship, not just tech startups.  If you’re not familiar with the concept, the link above describes the mission and goals very well.

I’ve compiled some tips and tricks for those thinking of attending, and if you’re not sure about going, these ideas might help convince you.

1) Know the Schedule

The schedule is available well before the event – you can find it on the link above.  Although most people can’t make every event each day, it’s helpful to know what you’re missing, and what things you really don’t want to miss.  I’m sure there will be copies at the event, but make sure the page is bookmarked on your phone and bring a hard copy if you can.

2) Your Idea or Someone Else’s?

Part of the fun of a Startup Weekend is bringing ideas into reality.  If you have your own idea, you can get people to help you by “pitching” the idea to everyone at the event.  But the best pitches are those that have been practiced.  Don’t just show up thinking you’ll figure it out as you go.  You’ll have a much better pitch if you practice it on a few people first.  You can just wing it, but you’ll get a better response if the idea is clear in your own head first.

If you don’t have an idea and want to join a different team, don’t let an unpracticed pitch for a great idea push you away. If you think you can help, let them know.

3) Build a Product – Not the Company

It’s only a weekend–there’s barely enough time to get simple products fleshed out. So, don’t go into the event thinking you’ll come out with a full-fledged business.  Your time is much better suited at building a product and focusing everything around it (design, marketing, etc.).  Use the weekend for what it is – a group of like-minded people getting startup companies started.  If you focus on business/corporate tasks, you’ll be wasting your time during the best parts of the event – the networking.

4) Avoid “Personnel Issues”

I’ll say it again – it’s only a weekend.  You don’t have time to play politics, gossip, or mess around with somebody’s easily bruised feelings.  Play nice, be respectful, and have fun, but don’t get bogged down in personal/personnel issues.  I haven’t seen this very often, but be aware that it can happen, and don’t get sucked in.  Try to put a stop to it before things get out of hand.

5) Network, Network, and Network

Everybody at the event is there to help. And everyone is interested in entrepreneurship and starting businesses.  Use your breaks and free time to network with other teams, coaches, speakers, and anyone else that will listen.  You’ll get inundated with thoughts and ideas and you’ll meet some interesting people while doing it.

6) Everybody’s Got One: Opinions

As noted, you’ll probably get thoughts and comments from nearly everyone – everybody has an opinion.  The best part about a Startup Weekend, is that you don’t have to listen.  You’ll get a lot of GREAT thoughts, but like everything else, you’ll probably get several stinkers too.  Use what you like, and don’t use what doesn’t make sense.  It’s all up to you!  Don’t be afraid to not take someone’s advice, but be sure to listen in case they have a point and just don’t have a good solution.  Be respectful while going with what you want.

I hope to see you this weekend!

Steve Cook