I don’t have enough capital. I don’t have that perfect idea yet. I don’t know enough about the market.
We’ve all heard excuses like these. But there’s one thing that truly holds us all back from launching our next big thing.
It holds us back because it’s the only resource we have that is not renewable. It’s the same for you as it is for me and for everybody else.
It’s time. And we all have 24 hours of it each day.
Startup Weekend looks to make the most of our days by creating an environment of action and by setting constraints on time—54 hours to be exact. Armed only with creativity and professional skills, participants at Startup Weekend are challenged to take their ideas from pitch to product in less than three days.
You’ll find these events all around the world but the most recent Startup Weekend was held up in the college community of Greater Lafayette, Indiana. As with all Startup Weekends, a panel of judges collaborated on the last day to pick a winning startup team. Last weekend’s start-up-a-thon spawned the event’s winning idea, Next Round—a novelty app for drink selection, toasts, and beer runs.
Team spokesperson, Andrew Gouty, gave us a glimpse of a successful Startup Weekend launch in this video interview:
1.) Nail the basics.
Pick a space that’s open for collaboration, maintains a comfortable climate, and pumps in blazing-fast Wi-Fi. Lafayette chose a new co-working space called the Lafayettech HUB, and it was not only packed with start-uppers last weekend but was also filled with plenty of food and water—essential for keeping the work sessions going late into the evening.
2.) Define your problem.
Before you go building things, you have to know what you’re trying to solve. Next Round picked something they knew they would have fun developing and designing over the weekend. If you’re in need of inspiration, Startup Weekend provides interactive brainstorming games with random word pairings. Just don’t forget to ask your potential audience if this is something they really want. In other words—get customer feedback and initial validation!
3.) Force yourself to refine.
You’re an entrepreneur. So, it’s your job to come up with all kinds of great ways to create value for your user and wow the customer. But it’s also your job to narrow down your ideas and pick the few that you’re confident will make the most impact. Remember that, in this exercise, you only have two and a half days to come up with a functioning product. It’s better to have 2 well-functioning features that your customers love than having 5 buggy features that prompt shoulder shrugs from your users.
4.) Create a cohesive team.
You can’t do it alone. So, seek out people with skillsets that are complementary to your own. Above all, make sure you have the bigger bases covered: graphic design, software development (front and back end), copywriting and marketing, and project management. Let people select their own roles because no one’s getting paid for this (at least not until you’ve all worked together to build something worth charging for). You’re going to be spending a lot of time together, so get this step right.
5.) Go all in.
Once you have your big pieces in place, lay out a basic plan. Then, slam your foot on the gas. You don’t have time to write a full-blown business plan, so just jot a few quick goals down—along with a couple of key benchmarks—and go! You can rip, pivot, and refine further on the original idea, but avoid calling a complete audible. Make something happen in the direction of your initial inertia. If you got steps 1 through 4 right, I think you’ll be pleased with the outcome.
In the end, we’ve all built things and hit goals on limited timelines. And the more you do it, the better you get at it.
So, I’m curious… what works best for you?