If you’re contemplating taking part in a StartUp weekend you can read about my first time in Part 1 of this post. Here are my top tips and takeouts from the weekend.
- Go in for the process not necessarily your idea. If you’re idea doesn’t get up join another group you feel passionate about. It will be worth it.
- Clear your life for that weekend. Pack the kids up, move your pets out, put your pot plants in the laundry sink. You will need every second you can get.
- Be prepared to work bloody hard. Be prepared for it not to be smooth sailing.
- Use the time to network and meet people – StartUp Weekend gives you access to the most amazing minds and skills and regardless of how you do these connections will be useful
- Be kind to your team. Especially if you are the one with the idea. Remember, without them it is only an idea.
On the 60 second pitch
- Do pitch. What have you got to lose? Be a joiner (if I can do it anyone can) – you’ll only end up wishing you had and then contemplating what might have been while you wait for the next StartUp Weekend.
- Connect with people at the welcome drinks – share your idea – my team ended up being mostly made up of people I talked with before I went in.
- Pick an idea that you value, that gets you fired up, that you can see yourself committing to – I went for a practical solution that was commercially viable. The idea is great but there are others that I am probably more passionate about. Next time I will pitch one of them.
- Talk to someone else who has done it before (email me – I’m happy to chat) – best thing I did as it allayed my fears immensely.
- Get your pitch right. Make sure you fit it into 60 secs and articulate the problem, solution and who you need to help you. Some great ideas didn’t get through because they weren’t well articulated and that’s a shame.
- If you’re trying to decide which idea to pick choose one that will make sense to the people in the room – if you are solving a problem that people can identify with its easier to get it across.
- Don’t be scared. You’re in a room full of people who love good ideas, who are creative, who take risks and who are there for the same reasons you are. These are the best types of people – promise.
On developing the idea
- Bring in as much research, planning, data and other information that you can for day two – that way you can hit the ground running.
- Refine, test, validate your idea with the mentors before you do customer validation. We ended up doing two lots. It was not ideal and we missed opportunities up front.
- Get multiple opinions early and look for weaknesses so you can address them. It’s better to iron these our early then leave until your back is up against the wall with time. 52 hours flies.
- If your validation proves your idea problematic. Pick another one. One group found their first idea wouldn’t work, came up with a brilliant, totally different plan b and ended up taking out third place.
- Be clear early on who is doing what, assign tasks, play to the strengths of each team member, get on with it.
- Keep a list, tick things off, keep yourself motivated through celebrating progress however small.
- You know that open minded thing that got you here? Keep it. Entrepreneurialism requires you to ask questions even as you develop the idea.
On wrapping things up and doing the final sell
- Pitch deck slides seems easy but trust me they are not. Simplicity is key. Remove all text (or as much as you can)
- A polished pitch deck is important but not as important as telling a story and taking the room on a journey from problem to solution (and when you do show some passion)
- Make your problem a human one, make it about people – not industries or businesses or other abstract thoughts
- Grab a practice pitch spot early to give you time to make changes – the feedback you get in that room will be invaluable
- Make sure you cover the key aspects especially monetization and competitors – these questions were asked again and again by the panel
- Go with one presenter or two at a pinch. Transitions can be clunky.
- Enjoy it. This is your moment in the sun. Shine.
And finally, some extra reading and watching that I found very helpful:
- Checkout the brilliant Adelaide StartUp Website – heaps of links, resources and other info to help you on your way
- Ned Moorfield, founder of goCatch on Backing the Right Idea (Ned opened StartUp Weekend Adelaide and was really great – this blog piece tells it like it is)
- pitchenvy.com – useful for wrapping your head around what a good pitch deck looks like. The StartUp Adelaide Teams nailed it
- Grappling with what a 60 sec pitch night looks like? Watch the opening night from StartUp Weekend Perth (2013)
- Read at least a little bit of Steve Blank