Startup Weekend Switzerland Blog

Breaking Barriers

There are many startup events and entrepreneurship activities out there offering great platforms to develop and validate new ideas in shortest time. But there is more to those occasions than just drawing a business plan: the true power and benefit of any such event lies in the atmosphere, the mindset, and the potential of every participant in the room. Entrepreneurship does not know age and does not care about your past. It is about connecting with like-minded and shaping the future together. It is about reconnecting on a new level and breaking barriers.

It was not too long ago when Sean Paul Shanor, Startup Weekend Facilitator, would regularly organize professional golf events for a living. It started as a job at the golf club as part of his studies in hospitality and gradually developed into the role of an event manager. ”I believe the best description for my role back then would be Chaos Manager. And I was good at it.” A position many would envy him for, like this one intern he mentored over a summer. The kid would ask him if he had ever met one or the other famous golf player and Sean Paul could give him a positive answer to all the names mentioned. Sean Paul then further explained to him that he even had opportunities to play with the said "stars" but never went for it. "The kid's jaw was on the floor. I don’t have a handicap - golf is not an easy sport and for me the challenges start with the idea of spending four hours on one course.”

Sean Paul realized that he had this kid's dream job. It was the point where he started to question his purpose and direction in life. A scary situation to be in, as it takes away all the ground you built up, leaving you floating in uncertain space. “On one side, I didn’t see a future continuing what I was doing back then and on the other side, I wasn’t sure if I could do anything else in any other field. I was very demotivated.” Eventually, he quit his job and took a long break from everything to collect his thoughts. It was a difficult time for him living from day to day without a perspective, when at some point his mother suggested him to go to this interesting event she had heard of. “So I attended my first Startup Weekend. And I had an absolute blast! It was the first time for me to experience what entrepreneurial thinking meant, to learn what an elevator pitch was, to reach out to and work with like-minded people creating prototypes, and so on. A true revelation.” He quickly understood that Startup Weekend was less about finding the perfect idea to execute but more about unlocking the entrepreneurial potential of everyone.

After that eye-opening weekend, it didn’t take much for him to realize how his previous experience and knowledge could help him to follow his new goal. “I found new energy and motivation and it was clear to me that I wanted to help others to experience the same - to unlock their entrepreneurial selves = and to be more in control of their lives.” Since then, Sean Paul has been active as a coach and mentor for startups and as facilitator at as many Startup Weekend events as he can attend.

It is a pleasure to have Sean Paul Shanor ( as facilitator at the upcoming Startup Weekend Zurich event on May 24-26 “to create a comfortable space for everyone to do something that scares them and to try new things”. Participants can expect a weekend of high energy, a lot of experimentation and learnings and many more activities. The personal recommendation of Sean Paul for attendees to get prepared: “We are all entrepreneurial inside - just sometimes we need to spark it and Startup Weekend is the place to do that. In that sense, I recommend to be open-minded and maybe to pay a visit to the Startup Weekend page, where you can find many great resources and primer on startup methodologies like design thinking, lean canvas, and so on. But remember, everyone is an entrepreneur at heart.

The Startup Weekend Zurich team is looking forward to welcoming everyone later this week. See you there!

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