What’s it all about?
If you are interested in entrepreneurship the answer is most likely yes. Startup Weekend attendee backgrounds are roughly 50% creative/tech (designers, developers etc) and 50% business (marketing, business, sales, finance, etc). Whether you are an entrepreneur or new to the startup scene, if you are motivated to build a product or startup and open to new ideas you’ll fit right in. Attendees are roughly 50 % female and 50 % male.
Aside from the organisers, coaches and speakers, all participants are expected to attend all three days. This is not only important to maintain the vibe of the weekend (“less talk, more action”), but also to minimise distractions/disruptions for the working teams. However, at most Startup Weekends there is the option to register for the Sunday presentations if you only want to see the teams’ final presentations.
Everyone who attends the event as an attendee is expected to participate in a team. This is important not only to preserve the mission of Startup Weekend (teamwork!) but also to minimize distractions/disruptions for all working teams.
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.
Bring lots of energy! A laptop, a power cord, etc.
Think about what idea you’d like to pitch. Do some research. Understand the problem you are trying to solve so you can communicate that with others. Practice your pitch. You’ll have 60 seconds to persuade other attendees to join your team. Make it clear, concise, and convincing!
Bring a friend! Events are better with good company.
What happens at Startup Weekend?
Friday: Participants arrive in the evening, begin networking, and grab dinner. After an ice-breaking game and a short introduction, the “Pitchfire” commences – anyone intending to pitch has 60 seconds to present their idea. No presentations or props are needed for Friday, just you and a mic. After pitches are finished, all attendees vote on their favourite ideas. The top ideas to be worked on over the weekend are selected. Before the end of the night, you select your team, brainstorm and prepare for the weekend.
Saturday: Doors open in the morning with coffee and a light breakfast. Teams work all day, with the occasional breaks, lunch, and dinner and get guidance with 1-2 short sessions. Coaches circulate to provide advice to the teams.
Sunday: Doors open in the morning again and teams work from morning until mid-afternoon. The teams begin wrapping up product/prototype and presentation in the afternoon to practice their pitches/demonstration. Final pitches begin in the late afternoon. Each team typically has 5 minutes to present plus 2-3 minutes of Q&A from the judges (this varies based on the number of teams). The judges give valuable feedback to all teams and select the top teams.
Any business ideas are eligible (whether for profit, ‘social’ businesses, nonprofit organizations, etc.) Think Big. Many ideas are tech-focused, and given the short time frame, we strongly recommend that even non-tech ideas focus on a deliverable to be completed by Sunday.
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.
No. Startup Weekend is designed to be the most effective platform for growing new ideas 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.
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 an 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”.
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 (a team is 3 or more people) 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 with any startup, the team decides. We don’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.
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):
– Mobile Apps (from mock-ups to skeletons)
– Slide decks
– Videos (i.e. product demonstrations, etc.)
– Live (mock-up) product demos
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.
Whether or not you continue to work on the idea with some or all of your team is completely up to you. Approximately 10% of Startup Weekend participants continue working on their idea with some or all of their team.
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 help in organizing the events to support the startup ecosystem. Organizers, coaches and judges work pro-bono.
Please contact the organizers directly or email us at email@example.com for more info.
Excellent, we love to partner with organisations that share our passion to promote the Swiss startup ecosystem! If you are keen to partner with us, please contact the organizers directly or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about event and national level sponsorship opportunities. The event organisers are also open to location, food and beverage sponsors.