7 Lessons I've learned at Startup Weekend

Editor’s Note: This blog post is by Bicky Singh.  You can contact him on Facebook.

I have attended 5 Startup weekends in 5 different cities and they were all different, yet also all the same. Startup weekend has a special culture that is hard to find in everyday life, so make sure to take advantage of this event and experience this phenomenal weekend where you can turn your ideas into reality.

I have learned some great lessons from these weekends that I have applied to my own start-ups, one of which was actually formed at a Startup Weekend!Here are 7 important lessons that I’ve learned at Startup Weekends.

1.Startup Weekend is about execution!

While most people have good ideas, not all of them execute these ideas.Startup weekend is about executing these ideas, which means you are forming a business that can potentially be launched at the end of the weekend!At a startup weekend you can learn how to lay a solid foundation to your startup in only a weekend and set yourself on the right path to success.

Granted, while you may not have enough time to have a fully scalable product or service, you should still plan to have the foundation formed. You are offered all the resources so you can work on your Idea without interruptions. There is coffee, mentors, food, and other tools for you to use to have something ready by the end of the weekend.

2. Choose your Team Wisely

A good team is much more important than the actual idea behind the business. You need a team you can trust at a professional level in order to really thrive. From my experience, it’s best to have a geek, a designer, and a hustler on the team, but I have seen it work other ways.

You need a team that can work together and know how to make decisions together and keep moving forward. Also, be open to saying ‘no’ to people. You want to make sure everyone on the team is comfortable with each other and can work together really well.

3. Get Customer Validation

It is imperative to go out there and talk to your target audience. In the end, your audience will judge if you have made the right choice in terms of picking a product, selecting your marketing method and creating an appealing offer.

The judges and future investors will like you to have numbers to back up your idea and this will also make your product or service better because of the input of your target audience.

4. Be Resourceful

In order to be successful, you need to take advantage of everything that is given to you. For instance, if you have mentors around you, take advantage of their experience and expertise. Learn from people who know more than you and follow in their footsteps. Additionally, you can leverage the power of countless free tools that are available for you online. You can use Google Docs to stay organized and access all the work from any device on the planet or Google Forms to send out a mass survey. You can also use severaltools to create mockups and wireframes for your apps orto design a nice looking website. The options are limitless.

 5. Pivot

Out of the 5 startup weekends I have attended, there was only one we did not pivot in. You have to know it’s okay to change things up and pursue a different idea.  Many successful companies were planning on being something else, but pivoted and now are a huge success. Also, sometimes after thorough research on your competition or some input from your mentors you can realize that your idea is not going to work, so you may have to do something completely different, but it’s all part of the Startup experience.

6. Prioritize

In order to be truly efficient you need to know how to prioritize your tasks. There are some things which are urgent and important, and there are other things that are neither urgent nor important. You have a limited time each day, so try to solve those urgent and important things. You can postpone those less important tasks.

Being efficient is very important because you can easily start focusing on the details so much that you forget the big picture. Remember that you are there to pitch a startup in front of Judges and they have a criteria they judge by.

7.Most importantly, have fun!

You will learn a lot during the weekend and meet a lot of people; some may even be future co-founders. This weekend is a little glimpse of what the Startup life can be like and you should enjoy it! I have won every Startup Weekend I have attended and I made sure to have a lot of fun at every single one. Take a small break to play some ping pong with your team, grab some beer while you’re working, or make it a game out of market validation.

5 Things You Can Do at Startup Weekend Education That You Can’t Do Anywhere Else

This is a repost from this Up Global blog post by Mandela Schumacher-Hodge

1. Meet people who are like you


Are you fed up with current education offerings? Do you think there are better ways to teach and learn? If you answered yes, then you are going to feel very much at home at Startup Weekend Education (SWEDU). Over the span of just one weekend (Friday night through Sunday night), you’ll meet up to 120 other people who also believe there’s a better way to do education. And like you, these people aren’t just interested in sitting around in a circle venting about the problems; they’re go-getters too, who are ready to dive in and take action to actually devise solutions.


2. Meet people who are not like you

Steve Jobs Dead

It’s great that you’ve found “your people,” but that’s only just the beginning. It’s imperative that amongst these people, you find those who possess different skillsets than you. The fact of the matter is, you’re not going to build a successful edtech company with developers alone. Developers must be paired with educators, designers, business people, and other important stakeholders, in order to create the best possible solution. Just think, if you’re Steve Jobs, SWEDU is where you may be able to find your Steve Wozniak.


3. Learn from people who’ve already done it


How many edtech companies have come and gone? I don’t have the exact number, but ask anyone in a school system who’s purchased edtech, or ask any investor who’s funded edtech, and they’ll likely tell you: it’s a lot. So how do we fix this problem? How do we create better companies that stand the test of time? Well, that’s a very complicated problem, but one thing that’s key is access to great mentorship. SWEDU pairs people with quality mentors from the very start of their entrepreneurial journey. Seasoned school leaders, edtech investors, edtech founders, etc. are on hand throughout the weekend to share their best practices, strategies, and “Do’s and Dont’s” of not just launching a venture, but developing a scalable and sustainable business model. Ultimately, the mentors help participants fail faster, hopefully avoid mistakes they’ve made, and even set them up to leapfrog the current solutions out there.


4. Turn an idea into a startup in 54 hours

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Buy a ticket, show up, listen to 3-5 panelists share their experiences and advice, try to get the moderator’s attention so that you can ask your question, mingle with a few other attendees, and go home. Sound familiar? Yup, I thought so. That’s the typical run-down of a meetup, conference, or summit, and this is currently what people are limited to if they want to engage with others who are interested in making a difference in education. (Don’t get me wrong: the Speaker(s): Audience format absolutely has its place in the learning, networking, and community building process, but this article is about SWEDU). At SWEDU we take a different approach that’s represented by our motto: No Talk, All Action. At our events, your success isn’t determined by how many notes you took, how many tweets you posted, or how many business cards you collected. Here, it’s all about what you actually built. The 54-hour timeframe gives you a bite-sized taste of what developing a startup looks and feels likes. At a SWEDU, learning by doing trumps learning by listening.


5. Fail faster


One of the worst things an entrepreneur can do is build something in isolation and not share it with others who can potentially provide essential input. On Sunday night at every SWEDU around the world, the creations are assessed by a panel of judges, who represent important decision makers (e.g. funders, customers, users). By the end of just one weekend, you’ll know what industry experts think of your solution (for better or for worse), and you’ll be able to use that knowledge to inform your next move. This is important, because as Lean Startup founder Eric Ries highlights, “The only way to (truly) win is to learn faster than anyone else.”