If you haven’t heard of Startup Weekend, check it out. The goal is to share an idea, form a team and launch a startup – all in 54 hours over a weekend. I’ve had the good fortune of participating twice (Princeton Startup Weekend being the most recent), and it’s always an amazing experience.
Unfortunately, dedicating an entire weekend to an event like this is incredibly hard for many people. Life is busy and after a full week of work (or school) it’s hard to spend a weekend away from your personal responsibilities. Spending the entire weekend is well worth it, but here’s some suggestions if you just can’t possibly do it.
- Attend pitch day – the first “event” of the weekend where everyone that wants to pitches their idea. Here you’ll hear a ton of cool ideas that can spark some creativity on your own. You may even consider pitching an idea you’ve been toying with just to see what type of feedback you get in the team formation phase.
- Stay the first night for the team formation phase – this happens right after the pitches are complete and it’s when everyone signs up for what team they want to be on that weekend. It’s a great way to ask more questions, see which ideas are the big winners (lots of people sign up to work on it) and if you did pitch – to see if anyone likes your idea.
- Come back for presentations – right before the final judging at the end of the weekend the teams that have worked for the last 50 hours on their startup get the opportunity to present back to the group. You’ll get to see the amazing things that can be done in one weekend and get to see how the original idea has evolved into something even better in such a short amount of time.
- Pop in for a free class or educational session. Throughout the weekend the multiple technology companies that come to support the groups offer all kinds of lessons like how to leverage their APIs, how to build certain things on their platform – and they are around most of the time to answer any questions. With reps. from some of the top tech companies dishing out knowledge even just stopping in for that would be a win.
- Be up front – don’t take away someone else’s ticket when you absolutely know you can’t attend all weekend because they’ll usually sell out and you don’t want to “waste” a spot. However, if you planned on attending and something came up that forced you not to be able to – then it’s still good to go check it out for at least some of the time.
- Contact the organizer and ask if you could just come for whatever portion you know you could make. Offer something in return.
So there are some tips if you can’t make it all weekend and I think it helps give some insight into what happens throughout those grueling 54 hours. I do hope the founders of SU Weekend take note and start to formally offer or entice people with “spectator” or “part-time” methods. While there’s already tons of events and they’re typically full (and sell out quickly), opening up to another type of participant should help benefit the cause in the long run.
Here’s a video to give you even more of what Startup Weekend is all about: