Running on fumes – my experience of the inaugural startup weekend
56 hours, about 6 hours sleep in total, and one hell of a buzz at the end.
Last weekend was the launch of a Wellington chapter of a global event, http://startupweekend.org. As we work with so many small businesses at Xero (we like to think our culture has retained a startup atmosphere) I’ve always been interested in the actions that go into progressing an idea from germ to reality.
Usually it takes a startup a number of months to get to the point of having the minimum viable product, before pitching to potential investors. Startup weekend takes the whole process and condenses it down into two short days. And boy are the days short.
I initially went along expecting to be more of a watcher than a team member. I had what I thought was an idea that might have some legs but I was pretty confident no-one else would be interested in. Instead after two sleepless nights, and more Coke Zero than is healthy to drink, I found myself the leader of a team that took out the number one spot.
Over the weekend we built uSnap.Us a web application and mobile application that allows guests at weddings to quickly upload photos to a central place, allows the guests to see the uploads in a central place, and allows those who aren’t at the event to track the event from wherever they are. We built a site, a mockup of a mobile application and more importantly we validated that the business could have some legs – all in the space of a weekend!
That’s the beauty of the weekend. For someone like me who has never taken an idea off the ground before, I got to see all the steps that go into validation of an idea, how to build those initial financials, how to really get some great feedback from the community at large, and how to build that special minimum viable product.
It was great fun, I suggest everyone try it once. There were some great companies formed over the weekend. (My personal favourite was Auti a toy for autistic children – this really tugged at my emotional side).
I’m proud of what I achieved in a weekend and would love to do the process again, but in meantime I have some great ideas to bring back into my work at Xero. It’s also given me renewed vigour to hack out ideas and trust an instinct occasionally.
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