Before the Weekend
Is this event for me?
If you are interested in entrepreneurship the answer is most likely yes. Startup Weekend attendee backgrounds are roughly 33% technical (developers, coders, designers, creatives) and 66% business (marketing, finance, everybody). Whether you are a serial entrepreneur or new to the startup scene, if you motivated to build a product or startup and open to new ideas you’ll fit right in.
Do I have to participate all three days?
Apart from Organizers, selected Coaches, Speakers, and press, everyone who attends the event is expected to participate all three days. This is important not only to preserve the ‘vibe’ of the weekend (“no talk, all action”) but also to minimize distractions/disruptions for working teams. However, at most Startup Weekends a “Sunday Presentations Only” registration option is available for those wishing to only view the teams’ final presentations. (Please check the registration page of your city’s website for availability.)
How do I register?
Every Startup Weekend event has a corresponding website (typically with the URL “[city].up.co”) with a registration page. Please see our events page at startupweekend.ch/#events for a complete list of upcoming events. If registration is not open, ticketing has either not yet opened or is already sold out.
Please note the different ticket types: if Business tickets are sold out and you fall into the Business category, you’ll have to wait for the next event (which won’t be far off!). This is an important part of our efforts to maintain a balance between attendees’ backgrounds and skill sets in order to maximize the event’s value for each participant.
Can I pay at the door?
In most cases you cannot pay at the door of the event. Organizers need to order the food and supplies in advance to meet the needs of the weekend. If you are unable to pay online, reach out to the local organizers to arrange payment.
Do I need a team?
You do not need a team to participate at Startup Weekend. Everyone who attends the event as an attendee is expected to join a team Friday evening. This is important not only to preserve the mission of Startup Weekend (teamwork!) but also to minimize distractions/disruptions for all working teams.
What ticket type should I purchase to pitch an idea?
Pitching is open to every attendee! We recommend you purchase the ticket that best represents your skill set.
What are the accommodations for the event?
Attendees are responsible for booking their own transportation and lodging (if needed). If you are traveling and unfamiliar with the location, reach out to the local organizing team to ask for nearby recommendations. Venues typically will not allow attendees to stay over night.
Do I have to pitch an idea to attend?
No, but we encourage you to! You can pitch an idea you've been thinking about for years, or something last minute you think of during the event. It's a great experience and invaluable practice for public speaking.
Where can I find a schedule for the event?
Each event has their schedule posted on the local event site.
What should I bring?
Camera – take pictures and video!
Optional: A second monitor, keyboard, etc…. set yourself up to be productive!
Lots of creative energy!
How do I prepare?
Do some research. Market research and background information will give you a better understanding of the probelm your trying to solve.
Practice your pitch. You'll have 60 seconds to persuade other attendees to join your team. Make it clear, concise, and convincing!
Get familar with our tools for the weekend, head over to startupweekend.org/resources
Get some rest.
Bring a friend! Events are better with good company.
What is the refund policy?
The short answer is we do not refund tickets the week before the event, so that organizers can order and plan for food and supplies. See our Refund Policy for full details.
What are the rules?
We have rules for the weekend that ensure everyone has a great experience. These are detailed in our Terms of Agreement.
During the Weekend
What happens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday?
Friday: Participants arrive between 5-7 PM, begin networking, and eat dinner. After an ice-breaking game and a short introduction by the Facilitator the “Pitchfire” will commence: anyone intending to pitch will have 60 seconds to give their best pitch. No presentations or props needed for Friday, it will just be you and a mic. After pitches are finished, all attendees will vote on their favorites, and using these votes the top ideas will be selected to be worked on over the weekend. Teams will form organically, consolidate, and begin working.
Saturday: Teams will work all day, with the occasional breaks to eat or listen to 1-2 short talks. Coaches will be circulating to provide advice in the field of their expertise for those teams that want it.
Sunday: Teams will work uninterrupted from morning until mid-afternoon. They’ll begin wrapping up their product/prototype and presentation around 3-4 PM to do tech-checks and practice their demonstration. After all Judges have arrived presentations will begin. Each team typically has 4-5 minutes plus 2-3 minutes Q&A from the judges (this varies occasionally.) The judges will select the top teams, give out prizes (if applicable), and the event ends (and celebration begins!).
What types of ideas can I pitch?
Any business ideas are eligible (whether for profit, ‘social’ businesses, nonprofit organizations, etc.), however the event is strongly tech-oriented. Approximately 95% of all ideas are mobile or web focused, and given the short time-frame, we strongly recommend that even non-tech ideas focus on a tech-related deliverable (i.e., website) by Sunday.
Can I pitch more than one idea?
Depending on the number of ideas pitched and the schedule, you may or may not be able to pitch multiple ideas. Prioritize your ideas: pitch your best idea (and the one you have most prepared for) first.
Can I pitch my existing business?
No. Startup Weekend is designed to be the most effective platform for growing new businesses from the ground up over the course of a weekend. A key facet of the weekend - and a central value for participants - is the spirit of complete collaboration, buy-in, and ownership. We’ve found that having existing businesses in the mix undermines this spirit, in addition to creating an imbalance between those ideas that are truly ground-level.
How do I protect against people stealing my idea?
The short answer is that you can’t. If you’re very concerned, you can limit your pitch to the rough outline of the idea without giving away key information.
The longer answer is that this is not something worth worrying about. Unless you are confident your idea is a ‘key-in-hand’, easy-to-implement innovation that hasn’t been thought of yet, the advantages gained from getting broad-based feedback and a strong team motivated by collective ownership far outweigh the remote risks of someone stealing and executing on your idea. The truth is that over 90% of ideas pitched at any given Startup Weekend have already been pitched - probably many times - in the past. This doesn’t imply that the idea isn’t a good one, but rather that what truly matters is how well you and your team execute the idea. “One can steal ideas, but no one can steal execution or passion”
What if my idea doesn’t get selected?
The purpose of the Friday voting and crowdsourcing isn’t to exclude certain ideas, but simply to highlight the most popular and high-potential pitches and end up with a manageable number of teams - ensuring that each team has a variety of backgrounds and skills. If your idea isn’t selected but you’ve formed a team around the idea, you’re welcome to work on it over the weekend. If you decide to do so, however, please tell the event Organizer, as this may be an issue regarding your teams’ eligibility for prizes.
Am I expected to work for 54 hours?
No. At some events, certain teams will decide to work all through Friday and/or Saturday night, but this is by no means obligatory or expected.
What resources/assistance is provided over the weekend?
A key part of every Startup Weekend is the valuable advice and assistance provided by the event’s Speakers and Coaches. In the spirit of “No Talk, All Action” we try to keep talks short and sweet, focusing on practical issues (i.e. “how to give a persuasive pitch”, “best approaches to customer validation”) that can actually help you and your team better achieve your weekend goals. Mentors - community experts in various fields ranging from entrepreneurship, software development, marketing, finance, law, and more - dedicate their time to providing advice and actually rolling up their sleeves and working with teams. In addition to the most valuable resources at the weekend (the people), we’ve also put together a list of some of the most useful resources in all startup-related fields, for both before, during, and after the weekend. Check out startupweekend.org/resources for more info.
How do teams address the issue of Intellectual Property/ownership?
As with any startup, the team decides. Startup Weekend doesn’t support or take part in the signing of any legal documents at the events themselves, and while Mentors with legal backgrounds are often present and able to give general advice, they are not permitted to give specific legal counsel. While it doesn’t hurt to be clear about your individual expectations from the start, we’ve found that teams who don’t spend time addressing this issue until it actually matters (i.e., there is a tangible product to have ownership of) are much more productive and successful than those who do.
What are we supposed to have accomplished by the end of the weekend?
While there are no specific requirements in terms of what teams should have accomplished by Sunday, it’s in your best interest to plan your execution around what you’ll be judged for on Sunday:
Customer Validation (did you vet your business?)
Execution and Design (what did you build?)
Business Model (do you have a plan for the future?)
As far as presenting goes, some of the most common presentations include any combination of the following (in no particular order):
Wireframes or fully developed website;
Mobile Apps (from mock-ups to skeletons to fully functional)
Slide decks (Powerpoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.)
Videos (i.e. product demonstrations, etc.)
Live product demos
Why is it a competition?
Competition is not a central theme of Startup Weekend, and this is often reflected in the broad, horizontal allocation of prizes and general flexibility/leniency of the event ‘rules.’ If and when the competitive aspect comes into conflict with the positive atmosphere we try to cultivate, we consistently choose the latter. We do believe, however, that friendly competition is beneficial to all parties and, most importantly, more accurately reflects the realities of startup life. Just as it’s important to gather ‘real-world’ feedback over the weekend, it’s also important to have real-world pressures and obstacles.
After the Weekend
Are teams expected to continue after the event?
Whether or not you continue to work on the idea with some or all of your team is completely up to you. Approximately 25% of Startup Weekend participants continue working on their idea with all or parts of their team.
I love Startup Weekend! How can I get more involved?
We love you, too! One of the beautiful things about Startup Weekend is that just about anybody can get involved, provided you are in it for the right reasons: to build communities and create startups. We can always use more help organizing events on a local level. Head over to startupweekend.ch/organizers to learn how to get involved.
What kind of support can Startup Weekend provide to help my team launch?
Startup Weekend primarily focuses on the entry point of entrepreneurship, but our support and community spans much farther beyond the weekend. Whether you are looking for more events in your city (Startup Digest), guidance for investing and mentorship (Startup Next) or a place to accelerate your business, we’re here to help anyway we can. Visit Techstars.com to learn more.
On a side note, we love hearing about Startup Weekend success stories! If your experience is share worthy send us an email! It'd make our day.