Business StartUp in a Weekend (2010)


I spent some time this past weekend at the Kansas City StartUp Weekend. Startup Weekend is a non-profit organization that provides “networking, resources and incentives for individuals and teams to [take a business] from idea to launch.” They go around to major cities all over the world setting up these weekend events.

I had never been to one before and didn’t really know what to expect, so here’s what happened in a nutshell.

I arrived on a Friday evening and there was a brief social hour with beer, pizza and music to help get things going. There were approximately 50 people (+/-) there from all kinds of different backgrounds – programmers, designers, business developers, etc. I put myself down as PR/social media.

After some opening remarks, anyone in attendance had the opportunity to pitch a 1-minute business idea to the group.

There was a total of 27 pitches which eventually got narrowed down to the top 8 ideas.

Everyone then spent the next 20 minutes going around the room to each of the 8 individuals who pitched those ideas asking questions, getting information, and eventually joining a team. I joined the team that was going to do a crowd-sourced food delivery service for local restaurants.

For the rest of the weekend, that team worked on the business to include a business plan, website, promotional ideas, etc, with the end result being a brief to a panel of judges on Sunday evening.

Here are a couple takeaways:

1) Stay the whole weekend. The Startup website says you can come and go if you have other things going on, but courtesy dictates that you inform your team when you cant be there. I could only do Friday and Saturday and told my team up front, but since you are a part of a ‘team’, you still feel like you’re abandoning them if you have to leave.

2) Network. There are some smart, interesting people there. The main point is not so much the end result as it is the process. Wish I could have had that extra day to continue to chat with the other folks there.

3) Choose the team, not the business idea. During that initial 20 minutes of going around and choosing a team, I initially was looking for the best business idea, but quickly figured out that the better way was to pick what I thought might be the best team. I was lucky enough to get on a team with a great bunch of  extremely talented people.

It was interesting, something different for me, and would definitely do it again if given the chance.

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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