Winning a Startup Weekend

A few years ago I decided to apply to Startup Weekend in Seville. I decided that I was not going to spend that weekend as I always did, resting with family, friends or simply at home doing nothing. That day I decided to go to this event, in which I had to be working 54 hours, from Friday afternoon to Sunday night. I was going there alone, without knowing anyone and without knowing very well what it would be and what I would find there.

Startup Weekend, for those who do not know yet, is an event organized by one of the most important accelerators in the world, and is held in hundreds of cities simultaneously. Within just 54 hours you have to develop an idea into a business project.

Everything begins with a dream

“Everything begins with a dream”. I love this phrase that a good friend once said to me to define this story. I strongly believe that everything begins with a dream, you should believe and dream about what you really want to achieve. If you don’t believe in what you do yourself, do you really think someone else should?

In November 2013, I won Startup Weekend Seville and these were the keys of the success:

  1. If you are reading this article, probably you would like or plan to participate soon. If so, congratulations, you should feel like a winner already. It’s a great step to attend a startup weekend and be willing to spend 54 hours living this adventure.

  2. The first day will be the moment where you have the opportunity to present your idea. You will only have one minute. You have to be very clear about the way you want to present your idea. If you were not considering presenting an idea - cheer up and try it. You should feel like a winner just for the courage to go out and present your idea to the rest of the participants.

  3. Sell your idea if it was selected and sell your skills as a professional. If your idea is not selected you can still join another team. It’s time to search for a team. The team is the most important thing. Ideas without a good team are not worth anything. Nobody will bet only for an idea without a good team behind. Do you have your team created? Congratulations again, feel like a winner again, you have been able to create a team with people you didn’t know and willing to spend the rest of the weekend working with them.

  4. Time to validate the idea and iterate it, if necessary. Go and ask the people around if the idea, you are in love with and convinced is the best, is a really good one. Validate who would use your product or service and how much they would be willing to pay for it. Modify the idea as much as you need to find its value. Feel like a winner again, you have a validated idea and there are people who would be ready to use it and to pay for it.

  5. Decide what is your minimum viable product. Be clear about how much time you need to develop it. Hours fly by. It is very important to define what is the value that differentiates your idea. Focus on it. Divide the team and work productively. Congratulations again, you have created a small product and your idea has been validated.

  6. You have an idea, you have validated it, you have a team, a minimum product to show. But one of the most important things is still missing. You need to prepare a presentation for the rest of the world. Be clear what is the problem you are trying to solve and what is the value in your proposed solution. You should be able to explain your idea and why it is viable as a business, which is what it is all about. Congratulations again, at this point you are the winner of Startup Weekend no matter who is the officially announced winner. Look back at yourself. You will realize how much you have learned and how it has changed your life. Use every moment trying your best and have fun learning from everyone.

When I participated in November 2013, every moment I lived and everything I learned made me feel like a winner of the experience regardless of the final position in the competition.

“At this point you are the winner of a Startup Weekend…”

The official result will be forgotten in the future. What always remains is the things you learned, who you met and how you enjoyed the moment.

Miguel Ángel Martín

I am a Software Engineer working remotely since 2013. I write about about technology, business and management. Subscribe to my newsletter if you want to receive them directly in your inbox.