Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids was entrepreneurial accelerator program open to anyone. Over 90 people attended and 35 people pitched ideas, including me.
I started with no clear expectation of what Startup Weekend would be. I certainly hadn’t mulled over ideas to offer or practiced my pitch. In my mind, this weekend would just be a fun thing to do, meet new people and get some free food!
When the event started, it was amazing to see all the people who had lined up to present their 1 minute pitches. Among the 90 people in attendance there were over 30 people lined up to pitch their ideas to an enthusiastic audience. Each of them confidently introduced themselves, presented their winning idea and sold it to the crowd, all in just one minute. As each person came and went I nervously shifted in my seat trying to decide if I should pitch or not. I waited until the very last moment and finally jumped up thinking “What’s the worst that could happen?”
After we finished our pitches, I was equally excited and overwhelmed to see numerous people approach me wanting to turn my one minute pitch into a full blown startup over the course of next two days. In all honesty, I was nervous because I had no idea what was going to happen next.
Little did I know that my pitch for a social platform that matches volunteers with non-profit organizations according to their unique skill sets, would be chosen and would go on to win third place.
What Startup Weekend meant for me and what I learned during that 54 hour frenzy can briefly be described as the follows:1. It’s a crash course
Startup Weekend is a Crash Course in everything from agile development process, product roadmap development, customer validation, business modeling, team collaboration, delegation and more. I learned more over the course of those 54 hours than I had before at any single event I had ever attended.2. You can’t knock the hustle
I knew I was getting out of my comfort zone when I decided to get up and pitch but the next 54 hours turned into a test of both mental and physical stamina. It was like a 10 hour long brainstorm session without any breaks coupled with sleep deprivation and excessive caffeine intake.3. You need to ask “Why?”
Validation - It’s the one thing that, directly or indirectly, shaped everyone’s Startup Weekend journey. This is how I realized the number of steps that lie between having a good idea and having a good business idea. We constantly had to ask ourselves “Why” for every assumption or decisions we made in creating the business plan. And then validate our assumptions via extensive surveys.4. It’s a wonderful community
This was the best part of Startup Weekend, the sense of community and support that we received during the weekend was amazing. We had people actively support each other’s groups when needed. There was a group of mentors who volunteered their time to hear our idea and provide important feedback that really helped our team.
To see what my team and I worked on during the weekend, go to volup.co.
Given the opportunity, would I participate in Startup Weekend again? Absolutely!