Startup Weekend is a game changer — and this is how to hack it.
Startup Weekend changed my life and that of my two cofounders. But we hacked it, oh yeah, we did it in a grand style and this is how you can, too.
Day 0 – Eliminate distractions and crush your fear.
On Day 0, make up your mind to participate and give it your all. I know you might have registered weeks ahead of Day 0. But trust me day 0 is crucial. All the distractions not to participate reside here. Fear of your idea being stolen; fear of the unknown and oh, you also just remembered your promise to hang out with the guys. Day 0 is the deciding factor, my advice, go to StartupWeekend and give it your all.
Day 1 – Which should I join? A good idea? Or a good team?
So many ideas, so many awesome folks, which team or idea do you join? Do you join a team because of the problem they are seeking to solve or because of the super awesomeness of the team? It is not an easy call. Generally a good team can pivot on ideas which don’t seem to work. However, it is not the same with a not-so-good team — they might not even realize their initial idea is not working in the first place. That said, you need to pick a good team seeking to solve a problem you are passionate about and identify with. In outlining the tool sets to build your fancy product, make your work easy, use APIs and startup tools like Dropifi, Trello, Dropbox among others.
Day 2 – It’s not just code. Get out and talk to customers.
That’s right, I said it, to hack Startup Weekend you need to look beyond the “all code, no talk” mantra. Think customers, think market validation, think distribution channels. Validating whether people will actually use your product is as important as building the product itself. No matter the problem you seek to solve, you need to involve customer feedback — you need to gain some user traction. I know it’s difficult because you only have 54 hours, but we managed to do that. Guess what? The judges were impressed. We were judged the winners of the very first Accra Startup Weekend. How cool.
Day 3 – Polish the presentation, not the product.
Business is all about presentation. On Day 3, polishing your final presentation should be the focus of your team. I saw many teams working hard to put their products in shape rather than concentrating on their presentation to the judges. Presentations shouldn’t be skewed towards product features and technologies but to the business model and the company’s value selling point.
In conclusion, the overall experience of Startup Weekend is a real take home. You realize how you have underutilized your potential and most importantly how awesome you can be if you are focused and determined.