Startup Weekend, yes you should do it!

An Empowering Experience

On a warm Friday night, I walked into my first ever Start-Up Weekend (SWE). It was held at Rivercity Labs tucked away in Fortitude Valley Brisbane. I knew very little about SWE and honestly didn’t know what to expect. As I walked in to register I remember feeling anxious and unsure of myself, not really knowing how I would even contribute.

Brisbane Startup Weekend

But as soon as the night started and the first idea was pitched all my self-doubt and internal analysis went away and I began to weigh-up every idea pitched and get excited about the ones that connected with me. I was instantly hooked.

It wasn’t long before I was part of an amazing team, getting our butts kicked by the mentors, pushed to validate our idea with customers, pivoting….(oh yes the dreaded “they hate it..but” pivot), then going 100 kilometers an hour to build a revenue model, go-to-market strategy and working prototype to pitch to the judges. The judges that day consisted of Steven Baxter (Australian Shark Tank) and Ramine Darabiha (Chief Innovation Officer at Half Brick).

The whole experience changed me and expanded my horizons to a whole new way of thinking and executing. Having just completed my MBA, SWE opened my eyes to how I could take the knowledge I had gained and apply it in more effective and more powerful ways. Less fluff and doing more with less, through lean, agile and product centric principles — and to be honest just being downright frugal. As someone who always thought there has to be a better way, working with like minded people to ideate, validate, build, test, fail and evolve — was a very empowering and exciting experience for me.

That weekend I concluded the following must be at the foundation of any good product:

  • Passionate people — you’ll be suprised just how much they can achieve if you empower them and get out of their way
  • Business acumen — it’s not understanding the technology or the solution, it’s understanding the business model
  • Execution — ideas are dime a dozen, it’s all about execution
  • A little thing called ‘hustle’ — those with the attitude and drive to keep pushing and overcoming.

The weekend made me feel proud of what we had achieved, the friends we had made and very much what I had learnt about myself. The weekend instilled in me a love of the tech and entrepreneurial community — its ambition, its curiosity, its open mindedness and its willingness be ‘trouble makers’. Quite an amazing acquisition in learning for something that only lasted a single weekend.

Startup Weekend — Ken Perera