Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability is coming to Oslo: A gateway to get involved in the startup community
— There are many, many good ideas out there — but not everyone knows what they can do to bring them forward, says the Lead Organizer of Startup Weekend in 2018 and 2019, Chris Sanchez.
In less than a month, a Startup Weekend hackathon will be coming to Oslo, on November 1st — 3rd: And this time, energy and sustainability will be the main focus for the innovative minds that’ll spend a weekend hacking new solutions. But energy and sustainability? Isn’t that something we’re already onto — tackling pollution and energy waste through demonstrations and legislations? Well, all that is of course good and necessary — but none of this can be completed without ideas, and the ambition to make them turn into real initiatives.
Chris Sanchez, the Lead Organizer of Startup Weekend in 2018 and 2019 says they are all about encouraging people to be open about their ideas. He has decided to jump on the wagon again this year and co-organise with Jyoti Sohal-David and Evin Güler. The Startup Weekend initiative, which springs out from Techstars, is aiming to make people get involved in the innovative communities.
To me, Startup Weekend is a good arena for people who want to learn more about realising an idea and then bringing it to the world. There are many, many good ideas out there — but not everyone knows what they can do to bring them forward. You might not have anyone to discuss your ideas with, but when doing team work you’ll help the project grow into something real and scalable.
Creating a company from scratch is certainly something that takes a lot of money, great effort, and time — and so, that is not the main target of the Startup Weekend initiative. However, they want to inspire a mindset — and a world — where everyone feels they can create and contribute. This ambition is not only fancy words, but also something which impacts the Startup Weekend itself. Sanchez explains how the mindset affects their choice of mentors and judges for the Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability.
We try to find a balanced jury, consisting of men and women. Diversity is very important, also because we through diversity can bring in different areas of competence, as well as different mindsets. We need people with insights from the startup world, just as much as we need people involved in the industrial creation of concepts and products. Our mentors are selected the same way. We are looking for experts who are working with areas such as solar energy, wind-based energy, and so on. We need developers too — as the mentors are going to help the teams develop their ideas, we need a diverse set of mentors. We select them through their ability of helping people reach their goals. Towards the end of the Startup Weekend, the mentors will also guide the participants on how to pitch well.
Looking for ideas in unfamiliar places
Ever since the first Startup Weekend was founded in Boulder (Colorado, USA) in July 2007, there has been almost 3000 Startup Weekend events, and 193.000 have participated in organising them. 23.000 teams have participated, and like Sanchez says: In all likehood, at least some startups have come from it. The key element is to show people that although creating a company might seem like an incredible feat, the main task is to come up with a good idea, and then make it scalable.
Many former Startup Weekend participants are very involved in the startup community now. Their interest in startups and innovation have grown since they participated at one of the Startup Weekend events, where they got a hands-on experience with the innovative process. Quite a few have become CEOs for smaller consultancy firms, while others are leading accelerator programs — like Maja Adriaensen and Knut Wien from Angel Challenge. Others have started their own startups, as they through their participation at Startup Weekend got a little bit of insight into what it takes to start a startup.
And if there is something not only Oslo or Norway needs, but also every other city and country out there — it is ideas and companies that are working to create solutions for energy and sustainability. We need ideas and companies that are insisting on changing the world as we know it, in an effort to create a better future for us all. And we’re quite confident that the best ideas are coming from all communities and areas — meaning that the best and most insightful idea might come from someone who didn’t think they had any good ideas at all.
Sanchez draws upon a familiar Norwegian expression — “like barn leker best” (“similar children play better”) — when he talks about this. Because with Startup Weekend, it’s clear that a far more true expression is “similar children play better — but they don’t learn anything new”.
We often get the feedback that people wish there could be a Startup Weekend every weekend. All our volunteers spend a lot of time and energy on creating the best possible experience for the participants — in fact, we are all former participants ourselves. A difference between the average hackathon and Startup Weekend is the community behind a Startup Weekend event. There is a support team, and a network, which has been involved in this for a long time — making us a very big family. In addition, the Startup Weekend events always hold the same kind of format — so there will always be familiar elements at each event.