Startup Weekend Judging Criteria

The Startup Weekend judging criteria is broken up into three sections. Teams are judged according to the following 3 criteria (weighted equally):

  • Business Model
    • How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they thought about (either solved or identified problems) competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, their revenue model etc?
  • Customer Validation
    • Are teams building something that people actually want? How well does the team understand their customer and their customer’s needs. Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?
  • Execution & Design
    • Have they established a “Minimal Viable Product” for the weekend (software, hardware, etc.)? *Note: an MVP is the minimum set of features to be able to start collecting data. Does it deliver a compelling and captivating user experience? Were they able to demo something functional?

Startup Weekend Sample Judge Questions

  • What’s the worst thing that has happened this weekend?
  • What’s the most impressive thing you have achieved this weekend?
  • Where is the rocket science here? What is your secret sauce?
  • Why did you pick this idea to work on?
  • Why do the reluctant users hold back?
  • Who would you hire or how would you add to your team?
  • What problems/hurdles are you anticipating?
  • Who is “the boss”?
  • What is the next step with the product evolution?
  • What obstacles will you face and how will you overcome them?
  • Who needs what you’re making?
  • How does your product work in more detail?
  • What are you going to do next?
  • What do you understand that others don’t?
  • Where do new users come from?
  • How big an opportunity is there?
  • Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
  • What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you this weekend?
  • Tell us something surprising you have done this weekend?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • What’s new about what you make?
  • How many users do you have?
  • Why isn’t someone already doing this?
  • What are the top things users want?
  • How do you know customers need what you’re making?
  • What domain expertise do you have?
  • What, exactly, makes you different from existing options?
  • What’s the conversion rate?
  • What systems have you hacked?
  • Who would use your product?
  • How will customers and/or users find out about you?
  • Why did your team get together?
  • In what ways are you resourceful?
  • What is your distribution strategy?
  • What has surprised you about user behaviour?
  • What part of your project are you going to build first?
  • What resistance will they have to trying you and how will you overcome it?
  • How are you understanding customer needs?
  • What’s the biggest mistake you have made this weekend?
  • Who might become competitors?
  • What do you understand about your users?
  • What is your user growth rate?
  • What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
  • Who is going to be your first paying customer?
  • If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
  • Who would be your next hire?
  • How do you know people want this?
  • What do you know about this space/product others don’t know?
  • How much money could you make per year?
  • How long can you go before funding?
  • How will you make money?
  • Will your team stick at this?
  • How much does customer acquisition cost?
  • How did your team meet?
  • Who in your team does what?
  • How are you meeting customers?
  • How many users are paying?
  • How is your product different?
  • Are you open to changing your idea?
  • What makes new users try you?
  • What competition do you fear most?

Past Participants Profile: TopFeed



It’s been a year and a half in the making but they did it. TopFeed co-founders and Startup Weekend PEI alumni Vaughn Murphy and Rafael Aguirre proudly launched their first product two weeks ago, a feat they never anticipated when they first met at the event.

Startup Weekend attendees sign up for a variety of reasons. While Vaughn planned on making a pitch, he had no idea what it was going to be until he arrived that night and started meeting new people. Rafael, on the other hand, wanted to participate as a way to recover some of the knowledge he gained studying business administration at UPEI a few years earlier. He had recently begun considering entering the world of entrepreneurship, and thought Startup Weekend PEI would be a good place to start.

Inspired to develop a marketing platform for food producers different from what is currently available, Vaughn did end up pitching an idea – a platform where producers compete for the top of a social feed in a fun and competitive way through reviews and social media. Three other participants, including Rafael, liked the idea and joined his team. As is the norm, the idea changed several times throughout the weekend.

Just a few days after they launched, we sat down with Vaughn and Rafael to talk about their journey into entrepreneurship and the how Startup Weekend PEI made it happen.

Did you think you’d launch a business?

Rafael: “I thought it’d be educational, but didn’t expect to launch anything from the event. We realized pretty quickly we were moving into a very competitive space trying to be a marketing firm on PEI. It started to really come together after being introduced to tools like the lean canvas early on, and having the support of mentors to help accelerate a simple idea into something bigger.”

At what moment during Startup Weekend did you think, “This could be something”?

Rafael: “(During Market Research) when we were talking to different producers about an online marketplace, a lot of producers were very positive about it. Most (local) producers don’t have any online sales channels or don’t know how to promote themselves online so they liked the idea and saw potential.”

Vaughn: “We asked producers what is important to them. Producers wanted to sell their products to customers off PEI. Many felt like they were established in the PEI market and wanted to attract other customers, but there was nothing set up for them to do it easily.”

What was your biggest take away?

Rafael: “The first idea you have is never going to be exactly the same at the end. Most of the time ideas changed into something completely different. You need to be prepared to change.”

Vaughn: “I took away the power of collaboration. I went in with no idea of what I would pitch or talk about and was literally thinking about what kind of theme the weekend was and thought “I should pitch something to do with farm and food.” To see the support of a complete stranger who thinks “this could have legs” and two days later have started a business and the confidence to keep going. We didn’t even talk about whether or not we would keep going (after the weekend), we just kept working and set milestones and deadlines for certain things to be done.”

Since you two didn’t know each other before the weekend started, could you tell us how your relationship evolved?

Vaughn: “From the very beginning we saw each other as equals, which has helped us stay level- headed and able to work with each other. We talk about everything about where we’ll take the business.”

Rafael: “We keep each other grounded, and help keep expectations realistic but have a vision to walk towards.”

How did the role of the mentors contribute to your Startup Weekend experience?

Rafael: “Extremely important, especially if you have no idea what you’re doing. It’s great to have a mentor who’s been through it, it can really help morale-wise to encourage you and offer insight.”

Vaughn: “We still talk with the mentors who were there! The mentors’ suggestions and input pivoted us to close to what we are today. It was their ideas and input that brought us to better and better places.”

Any parting words of wisdom for future Startup Weekend PEI participants?

Vaughn: “If nothing came out of the weekend, it still felt pretty good because we saw what it took to get a business together in a short amount of time. One year later, we’re still digesting that information.”

Rafael: “Putting an idea out there and coming up with a business is manageable, it’s not as complex as you initially think it is. It isn’t easy, but it’s something the average person can see through if they just push on. You can get a lot more done than you think you could do.”

Be sure to check out TopFeed’s website to sign up for their signature snack pack and see new product offerings in the coming weeks!

If you’ve ever dreamed of being an entrepreneur, Startup Weekend could give you the support you need to get an idea off the ground! Register today for Startup Weekend PEI, happening November 18th-20th at Startup Zone in Charlottetown!

The Roles at Startup Weekend

Taking a page out of Alisha from Lancaster, PA’s books for this post. Reposted with permission, original here.

So. Startup Weekend is a 54 hour event where you can get a crash-course on being an entrepreneur. But how are you going to participate in Startup Weekend? There are a variety of ways anyone can participate. I had an interesting experience where I signed up to be a designer but had reservations on designing when I arrived. It was fine – I still played a part as a Project Manager and assisted with some design decisions. In other words – whatever ticket you choose, while it is very important, there are so many more ways to participate in Startup Weekend.

But that doesn’t necessarily help you decide which way you’ll sign up to participate, does it? Never fear. I’ve pulled together a little guidance on each role at Startup Weekend: Developer, Designer, and Non-technical! Also, remember, if you’re a student select “STUDENT” and pay just $50. You will be required to show Student ID at the door.

This ticket type applies to software engineers/coders/developers – in short, anybody who can and will write code.
Honestly – that description is pretty perfect. What can you expect to do at Startup Weekend, though, if you sign up as a Developer? You might start witha pitch. And then you might work with the non-technical and designer to ensure your concept is effective for completion in 54-hours and then start to code. Or maybe you don’t have an idea to pitch. Or you might pitch an idea that doesn’t make the cut Friday night. You can still join another team and work with that team to complete the idea and code during the weekend either alone or with another developer (or two)!

This ticket type applies to anybody with a background in design (graphics, UX/UI, etc.)
Again, the ticket definition hits it spot-on. Know anything about design? Great! This ticket is for you. You might spend your time creating a logo or elements of an online-tool (like buttons, etc) or even laying out pages on a site. Or creating the many graphics needed for a site. If you have some coding knowledge for design, that’s great! If you know a bit about UX/UI but can’t complete everything for it – this is the ticket for you, too! And your time to learn more about creating the best experience online. If you’d like to read more about this unique way to participate. A fellow Startup Weekend Organizer, (she’s worked on PHLSW and HEALTHPHL),Melissa Morris Ivone, wrote a great blog post on The Role of Design in Startup Weekend.

This ticket type applies to business, marketing & PR, and anyone with a non-technical background.
I love this ticket type description. It really can serve so many purposes because there are so many things to be done at Startup Weekend. It takes a great team to pull off creating a business in 54 hours. Are you a great marketer? This ticket type is for you. Do you know a lot about running a business? Or starting one, at least? This ticket type is for you. Are you a great writer? You might also make a great blogger or copywriter for a website or tool. This ticket type can also be for you! Also – don’t forget – you can pitch an idea Friday night, too. Maybe that’s what you think you’re coming with  – just an idea for a business. And that’s fine. You can watch your idea unfold in 54 hours and learn the many different things you need to get that started with a great team while helping each developer, designer, marketer to get this accomplished.

Whichever ticket type you choose, there are so many ways to participate at Startup Weekend. From Friday Night through Sunday evening. It can be as much or as little as you like – but you’ll get the experience of watching a business start faster than any other situation.

Still have questions about what ticket to buy? Or just want to say hi? Just email us at pei (at) startupweekend (dot) org (or you can click the contact button on our home page).

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