Four hours down, fifty to go. StartUp weekend has taken off. Teams are working vigorously through the night to organize and “idea dump” anything and everything for their products. Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities. Let’s rewind the clock a few hours back to the beginning.
Walking into Ohio University’s Innovation Center during registration for StartUp weekend, I could feel the enthusiasm and excitement to get started. The loud music playing helped set the energy for the rest of the evening. Some participants were going table-to-table trying to sell their business ideas and gather a team of followers for the 54-hour competition.
Anyone can be a part of StartUp weekend. You don’t need an idea, pitch or even a team. All you need is a desire to learn about the business model and entrepreneurship. Those that have an idea participate in a quick 60-second PitchFire where they state the societal problem and how to solve it in hope to be selected in a small handle full of finalists. The participants vote on the finalists, and unfortunately some ideas are not selected, but participants whose ideas that are not selected are still encouraged to join other groups to gain experience in a using the business model canvas and creating in teams their MVP’s.
An MVP, in business terms, “is the absolute minimal viable product a team must create in order for it to be successful,” said Jon Rossi, a facilitator for StartUp weekend.
At the end of the 54 hours, teams will present their MVP to a panel of judges to win up to $1,650 in prizes, a six-month membership to the Innovation Center and a one-hour business consultation with Chief Operating Officer Matt Strader of imgur.
In the next few hours, I went around team by team to sit in and observe their project management brainstorming. The chosen products ranged from engineering more efficient adult nerf guns to creating an online database for OU alumni and current students to purchase textbooks to creating mobile applications for voice memos for corporate business professionals.
Participant Ihlana Mumford wants to “change the picture of videography” by creating an app that allows simplicity to video editing all at your fingertips.
While observing each team, whether having two, three or seven members, they were all diligently working on defining their core features and customer relationships models for their products on a business model canvas. Several teams were writing on marker boards, others post-it noting thoughts while some were just having dialogue. I felt included in some teams as they asked me about my opinions of their products even though they are under a time crunch to prepare and organize for the next day. I am intrigued to see all they’ve accomplished through the night and start of day two.
To check out what other StartUp weekends around the globe are doing, go to www.startupweekend.org