This weekend, I got a chance to participate in my first Startup Weekend: Startup Weekend Seattle EDU. Education has always been important to me (got into Teach For America and was a click away from teaching in Memphis!), so this event was a no-brainer.
Overall, it was an awesome time with 7 dedicated team members. We built Office Hours, lessons to catered to your senses. The site is a little wobbly, but check out our awesome 60 sec video pitch to learn more. Our team consisted of 3 biz dev, 1 idea curator/presentor, and 3 devs spanning organization like Amazon, Microsoft, Code Fellows, and UW faculty. I like to think we had the most fun, grabbing drinks once it was over and vowing to keep in touch. I hope so!
I helped design and mock the mvp product, prioritizing features and figuring out what was feasible in a weekend. In addition, I worked on the dev side, doing html, css, and a bit of rails. The best part of this weekend was working as a dev, and taking instructions from the business side on different feature requests. It helped reinforce what it’s like to be PM’ed with changing requests or pivots!
Unfortunately we didn’t place 1st or 2nd out of the 12 teams, but heard from two judges that if we had a better scaling strategy, we could of placed! For most of us, it was our first Startup Weekend, so I wanted to write down what I feel is important if your team wants to win a Startup Weekend.
How to win Startup Weekend
- 25% – business model validation
- 25% – product execution
- 25% – user experience design
- 25% – education impact
Our Startup weekend final presentations were broken down into the categories above. With only 5 min, it’s important to maximize your time to hit all 4 categories.
Product execution and user experience design – This means you should only spend 2 min max on a technical demo. Most Startup Weekends weigh Product Execution as 25%, which means you don’t need a full fledged, function product with user sign ups, about pg, landing pg, and other niceties for a functioning app. Instead, build a technical demo, not a technical product, and make the demo design worthy. It can be tricky to separate the two, but because design is the other 25% of the judging, a slick looking demo with a cool experience definitely helps. Judges don’t care if Facebook Connect works or if your app is responsive in one weekend. Framing the product as a polished demo will help eliminate extra features that take time from what truly makes your product unique.
Business model validation – Build a beautiful powerpoint/presentation. Practice it! Our business team did a killer job researching the market, receiving validation from users, and polishing the presentation into an intriguing story. Your powerpoint represents your team’s design elements as well, so make it easy to understand and pretty!
Education impact – This is where a team with industry experience (in this case, education) is key. It’s not always easy to know what the education space needs if you’re analyzing it as an outsider. I’d say just make sure someone on the team has direct experience with the problem your Startup Weekend is themed around. For us, that was Jonesy, our startup visionary who helped us see that students could learn through tactile and visual lessons as well. Very cool!