Things to try in your first startup weekend

I attended my first startup weekend last week(1/23/2015). Here are some things I think you could try in yours.


Pitch an idea

Pitching an idea can be scary, especially if you have not thought it through. Don’t let this hold you back. Go ahead and just pitch. Most people who come to startup weekends don’t come with an agenda. They want to be inspired, work and learn something. So just go ahead and try to pitch any idea that comes to your mind. I was the last person to stand in the line and I pitched a casual “conversation~ish — idea”, I had discussed with friends. My idea ended up being something a lot of people wanted to work on building and I literally had no room to collect more votes. So just go ahead. Pitch!

Network

Ah here comes the buzz word.However the reason I think networking here is very important than other places is because, as you network before your pitch, you can learn more about the people around you. You can make a mental note of their skill sets, which would make it easy for you to go back and recruit them if your idea get voted in the pitch. So just ask people what they do. People love to talk about themselves and they have interesting things to say.

Take Ownership

You can get more out of a startup weekend if you take more ownership. When I became the team leader because people liked my pitch, I “had” to do it. I “had” to recruit a team. I “had” to find a way to present a decent final pitch, because 8 people in my team said they believed in me and wanted to spend 56 hours in working on the idea. They wanted an agenda and a direction so I “had” to come up with a plan even though I made things-up on the fly. Again, the way I ended up “taking ownership” was by taking the first step, “Pitching the idea”. So once again, “Pitch”

Be Accountable

If you say you are doing something, do it. Especially if you are a team leader. People derive inspiration out of one another. Those who come for a startup weekend already signed up because they want to do something(Unless they were forced to, but let us not dwell there much), so channel and build on that energy. Because of the duration and team sizes, everyone does have to pull a lot of weight already, so make sure you ease the burden on others by doing your part and having room to do some heavy lifting if possible. Think about this, you can actually build a company out of this if things go well.

Pivot

Be open to changing the scope, teams and the idea itself. Startup weekends are “amorphous atmospheres” because there is so much creativity in the air. So sit back and watch ideas unfold. People will come up with interesting alternatives and workarounds and if you are married to a system, you will feel restless. Let go of the need to confirm, and listen to every idea objectively. Who knows, it might be your seed for the next big event

Have Fun

Startup weekends can be stressful if you take them too seriously. There might be times when this is a management nightmare because people in your team might want an actionable result while some others are actually there to observe, and probably host a similar event. So make sure, you communicate priorities on the first evening. It is not cool to diss someone for their lack of effort when they did not sign up for it in the first place. So let those who want to have fun have their fun and let those who want to have fun working, work. People are here for an enriching experience. They have paid for it and it is only fair that they get it.