Starting-Up in 194,400 Seconds
On foot of a pretty trivial internet search result this week, I found something that got me thinking about Startup Weekends and what people can achieve in 194,400 seconds (aka 54 hours). This particular internet search that sparked my line of thinking was not without it’s own perilous journey.
As is the case with most journeys across the internet, I find they usually descend into chaos. You know the old story, first you step into the information sink hole of Wikipedia before inevitably passing across the frontier of memes to learn more things you never knew you needed to know about, but still end up rationalizing it with yourself that this knowledge will in fact be a useful fact in the future. But lets be honest, it’s not.
So in this particular ‘journey’ I stumbled across the image above. Truth be told my search had been for ‘Startup Weekend t shirt designs’. I love my swag* I can’t deny it. Just to note this result was just around the time that I had passed through the frontier of memes and was fast approaching the YouTube chasm of cat videos. Who doesn’t like cat videos, #amirite?
It might seem trivial but the phrase, ‘ I created a company in 54 hours, what did you do last weekend?’ reminded me about why I got involved in Startup Weekends back in 2013.
Since 2013 I’ve been a big fan of the Startup Weekend global community / fraternity / family ever since a gent by the name of Stu Fergus (now doing awesome things with Blackstone Launchpad at Trinity College) introduced me to this particular way to spend a weekend.
Stu got me on board as a judge at the 2013 Startup Weekend event. Suffice to say I hung out there all weekend with my jaw continuously floored at the volume of brain power, determination and fun everyone was having while building their ideas into startups in as little as 54 hours. If Startup Weekend was a bug then I was bitten, if it was a virus then I’d caught it and if I was a fish then Startup Weekend had got me, hook, line and sinker. I was in. I had to get involved again. And again. And again…you can see where this is going.
For those of you that are new to what Startup Weekend is and want to know how to get started then here’s the 1–0–1 on what to do.
1 Get your ticket
2 Get ready to pitch an idea or join a team
Learn how to hack this process thanks to ClearPreso here) and then work with awesome mentors and organisers over a weekend to build out your idea.
3 Get ready to validate, validate, validate your idea
Added amounts of hustle work well here as does this video below to explain this point even more!
What I’ve learned so far
Over the last 3 years I’ve had some pretty interesting conversations at each event with attendees, mentors, judges and facilitators. Getting their handle on why they part with their precious free time for Startup Weekend always throws up some answers I’d never expect.
One cohort that I always love to chat to are the facilitators. I’m singling them out in this article as most of the time they’re from some far flung country and arrive in not to dissimilar fashion to the A Team to support and help the local Startup Weekend organisers. A facilitator is someone that’s organised Startup Weekends before and has then gone on to be trained in how to run the event. They travel to events and help the organisers of a Startup Weekend make sure everything runs smoothly. What I get to learn from them mainly focus’s around the challenges they’ve encountered when working in and building out their startup eco system and culture.
It’s pretty cool and I’m getting my first chance of this particular honor this weekend in London at Startup Weekend Fintech Edition at Google Campus with a rather awesome bunch of organisers. One of these organisers not only won the 2013 Startup Weekend Dublin with the team MedixNote that I first judged at but then went on to organise Startup Weekend Dublin and now is applying her knowledge in London. Good work Aimee Clancy!
We’ve been fortunate to have some amazing people as facilitators in Dublin including Déborah Rippol, John Beadle, the ever energetic Alejandro Saucedo and Adam Haun (quick tip, take time out right now and follow these folks on twitter. I helped you out in advance by linking their names to their accounts. I’m good like that. I’ve got your back. Ok keep reading now).
One thing that stood out with a conversation over the weekend with Adam was (separate to a mini intervention on his excessive collection of beanies and notebooks that never seemed to stop being produced from his back pack) was about how Startup Weekend is an important tool in helping build a startup community in a city.
At its simplest level a Startup Weekend needs to always keep focus on introducing people to entrepreneurship. We’ve been pretty fortunate to have some successes here as well as globally of teams that have continued on from forming at a Startup Weekend. None the less, the biggest bonus in my mind is that people get the opportunity to open a door to entrepreneurship over a weekend peer inside, experience the rigors of building an idea to an MVP and you know what maybe they’ll continue on from there. Maybe not, but they definitely will have learned new skills, created new contacts and be the better for it.
I could wax lyrical on the fact that Startup Weekend now takes place in 150 countries around the world, has helped form 23k+ teams and has an alumni of 193K+ previous attendees to date. I could then go on to say that the first Startup Weekend was back in 2011 and 5 years later it’s grown to 4 county’s and about to expand again to give more people the opportunity to benefit from it.
But you know what, I guess the proof is in the pudding. Attend one and see what you make of it. If you’ve got an idea you need to get out of your head, onto paper and turn into action or you want to join a team a build something special with your skills and learn cool stuff, then click here and attend Startup Weekend Dublin this June 10th — 12th supported by Google for entrepreneurs and Bank of Ireland.
Make sure to say hello to the tall ginger guy when you get there (that’s me by the way, you can’t miss me, the ginger hair really helps in this particular case). You’ll have an awesome time, you’ll learn new things and you’ll be the better for it. As Ben Stiller said in Starsky and Hutch…
*1 It’s fairly safe to say that I have an addiction / affliction with being obsessed with swag. In future years I may even finally launch Swagstagram, a mobile application to help curate and chart your swag in an online market place as you never know who might want to bid on your 2014 silver male size medium dropbox t-shirt. You just never know.