I am the one you can blame for bringing Startup Weekend back to Prague together with my special team. I experienced the first Startup Weekend as an attendee in Helsinki, and then, together with my friends from Oulu, we decided to start it in this beautiful city of Northern Finland. So now you know a bit about me and my background, which explains why I was invited to Europe Summit in Dublin this year. Techstars Europe Summit gathers the startup community leaders from all around Europe. Since I hadn’t been intensely involved in that community I decided to come and see how it worked.
I arrived in Dublin on Thursday afternoon so I got the chance to walk around the city a bit and met some of my friends who arrived earlier as well. In our discussion regarding Startup Weekend we identified some similar challenges.
When you want to organise a Startup Weekend in your city you are basically on your own in terms of financing it, marketing it, and finding the organisers, mentors or judges. On the other side, you have a verified concept and a strong brand which attracts attendees. Our mission in Czechia is creating a platform for anyone interested in bringing this concept to their city, so if anyone feels like doing it, let us know.
It’s pretty challenging to find people who will continue organising Startup Weekend, and the handing over is not easy if you don’t want to screw it up with sponsors or marketing. The determination seems to be floating away when organising Startup Weekends.
Welcome to Europe Summit
The event was kindly hosted by Google for Entrepreneurs so we got the chance experiencing the Google hospitality. I shortlisted only a few of the presentations which where most inspirational to me for example How to talk funny, Power of Network.
Power of Network by John Hill
John Hill gave us several tips how to get the most of the LinkedIn platform. I chose two very easy examples for you. The first one is about the search, how powerful is becoming, helping you a lot while traveling and connecting you with people in the destination instead of the cold emailing. Another was about possibility of exporting all your connections.
How to use LinkedIn search more efficiently
Imagine that you need to find more mentors for your event and you have lack of designers, in that case you can filter by location, job, education, etc. to find the potential mentors of your event. In my case I demonstrated that I would be flying to Helsinki and want to connect with people I had studied with at university (University of Oulu). Obviously, you can come up with your own use case — criteria. Try it :)
How to export your contacts
Another example is super easy and might be very handy for those who want to get all their contacts into spreadsheet within few minutes. How to do it? Go to My network > All connections (See all) > Manage synced and imported contacts > export contacts and you're free to play and sort them as you want to.
Follow-up after the SW by Wout Labant
One of the biggest challenges after Startup Weekend is to use the momentum you created in order to build or maintain a healthy startup community. At the beginning of the workshop, we singled out some of the questions you might like to accomplish by doing your follow-up:
- Educating individuals
- Focusing on the right teams
- Turning them into ambassadors
- Sharing success stories
- Finding other organisers
- Local to global (scalability)
I do agree what highlighted in the discussion Adrian Pica because we are also responsible, as organisers, to help them fail as soon as possible so they can pivot their idea or simply do something else, which deserves the attention and effort.
“Our role is also making sure that their ideas will die as soon as possible.”
Based on the objectives above, you can try to come up with your own ideas how to meet them and reformulate your current follow-up structure. What worked pretty well in our case was dedicating one person whose role was to be there for the teams and to get to know them as much as possible, while letting them work as their ease. We encourage the teams to get an individual follow-up with organisers to get to know what teams are up to and if there is a way organisers can help teams connect them with the right people. What we give away as prizes are the coworking space, mentorship, books and vouchers for the job portals dedicated to startups so if they need to find someone they have a possibility of reaching them for free.
Our follow-up email structure:
- After the event (invitation to alumni group + specific job offerings from sponsors)
- What is up (meetup + alumni group reminder)
Do you talk funny? by David Nihill
It was simply a great talk. So only a couple of things which I noted. One of the first surprising things which happened was “Raise your hand who hates public speaking”. Yup, I was one of the two people in the hall who raised the hand.
People who give a TED Talk speech have to practice it more than 100 times.
He showed us round a great public speaking.
- Start with a STORY > Audience should visualise it easily (good example Ken Robinson and the start of his TED talk)
- Use COMEDY WRITING
- Joke structure looks like this: set-up > punchline > tagline
- Delay impact: put the word towards the end, audience will remember it easily. Remember you high-school teacher? Tomorrow I want your assignment vs I want your assignment finish by tomorrow. Can you see the difference?
- Rule of 3: The best sequence to memorise. Good examples are two similar things and then the one which doesn’t align with them at all. Here as good article to find out more how to use it.
How to measure successful talk/content? Laughs/minute. The best video by this criterion, is TED Talk by Mary Roach: 10 things you didn’t know about orgasm.
One though I have brought home with me was: “What is the minimum in order to learn maximum?”
How to talk to corporations
I took part in some discussion about this topic and here is my conclusion. Finding sponsors is always challenging so here are some tips from my experience and the talks I took part in.
- Inviting potential sponsors to the event, in our case having a dinner for sponsors and mentors on Saturday for them to talk with each other
- Salesdeck, which I created as a template for you. At the end of the template you can use our sales deck and modify it to your purposes. Feel free to share it with others.
Couple of tips from Zuzka: “Be able to quantify each benefit you promise corporate will get while cooperating with you as they need to express everything in KPIs (key performance indicator). There is no B2B as you always have a contact person in a company so you should be really empathetic and try to uncover his interest behind every action.”
“Trust is a fundamental building block of a startup ecosystem.” by Patrick Walsh
New brand by Techstars
Techstars recently changed brand guidelines for startup weekend and it seems it is evolving to the right direction. I asked our Chief Design Chef: Vladimír Mokrý what he thinks and cooked in his kitchen regarding the new brand guidelines.
“With the Prague Education edition I started playing with the negative space by putting objects around the main shape of a beaker, but that did not work, so I built the silhouette with the objects of a book and an e-reader.”