Last weekend, most of the Roundpeg team participated in Indianapolis’s third Start-Up Weekend. The goal of the weekend was for teams tor go from concept to business launch within the 54 hour event. At the end of the weekend, each team presented their new venture to a board of judges, with the winning team moving on to a global start-up competition.
More than anything, I feel like the weekend was a learning experience. A few of the lessons I took away from Start-Up Weekend:
1. Passion is infectious – The best part of Start-Up Weekend was how excited participants became about their projects. By the end of the first night, seven teams fully believed they were on the verge of founding the next mega-corporation. That belief created a buzz in the air that was impossible to ignore. And that same fervor drove everyone in the building to work and push to create the best product possible.
2. Roadblocks are inevitable – I work with business owners all the time. Until Start-Up Weekend, though, I couldn’t empathize with business owners. I had never experienced the trials and tribulations of starting a business from scratch. Several times during the weekend we hit major roadblocks in development. For example, different “departments” work at different paces. In a startup, everyone is so close that it’s much more obvious when there’s a gap between those department production cycles. For our team, those roadblocks forced us to step back, regroup, and push forward once more to overcome obstacles.
3. The idea is paramount – At the end of the weekend, each team had only five minutes to present the case for its business. Five minutes is NOT very long. There isn’t time to talk in-depth about the financial projections. While the judges did appreciate teams briefly touching on financial projections, their final grades placed the most emphasis on the idea. If you have brilliant idea, always lead with that.
4. Show, don’t tell – This was some of the best advice I received over the weekend, when it comes to selling a business, it’s always better to show rather than tell. The most impressive presentations the final night were the demonstrations of working prototypes. This is really just an extension of the concept of “actions speak louder than words.”
These are just a few of the lessons I learned from attending from Start-Up Weekend. Have you ever attended a Start-Up Weekend? What did you learn? If you didn’t make it to this one, be sure to attend the next one in April 2011!
(And be sure to vote for Indy’s winning team: StatsSquared in the Global Startup Battle.