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by Paul Hannah

I heard about the Gold Coast startup weekend from a friend just 2 days before it started. I wasn’t until the afternoon before that I decided to go. Within an hour I’d bought the ticket, booked a bed at a hostel and drove the 2 hours to get there.

I was hoping for a bit of fun with some interesting people. I got so much more than that!

I had been struggling with the direction of my life and was at a dead end. I needed a kick in the pants — something to light a fire under me again.

I arrived at the event and the idea pitching began. I got up on stage to pitch my idea. This didn’t get the interest I’d hoped for — I stood in front of my idea in the gallery while everyone joined the other teams. In the end I admitted defeat and joined another team myself.

What followed was an intense couple of days: putting together a workable business plan; hacking together a webpage; hitting the streets surveying people; crafting a final pitch.

We got up as a team and presented our idea and plan, and ended up picking up first prize.

What followed was a whirlwind few weeks, including moving to NSW. In the end, after some digging, we found out that a multi-national was preparing to jump in to the same space. The team disbanded.

But, and here’s the rub, in that time I’d become involved in other projects and found myself embedded in the dynamic world of the startup community.

A year later and my world looks completely different. One of my projects has found investment, produced it’s first product, found it’s first customers, and is going to market. The other is in the wild and gaining a small but loyal customer base.

And this is the best bit, I get to work every day with people who are living their dream. At a place where people can’t wait for Monday morning.

Going to startup weekend was the best bloody decision of my life — just buy your ticket already!

Lisa Ludvigson