Hot on the heels of Leeds GovJam I recently took part in the 10th Startup Weekend Sheffield, where people come to build skills, meet incredible people, and launch successful startups. All in 54 hours. If that sounds great, just watch out — it’s addictive!
There’s something special about being at an event where people have paid to spend their weekend working on an idea. It creates this intensely positive, collaborative atmosphere: a recipe for success. At the start of the weekend my team had an idea. By the end we had a business. Nothing motivates people like a shared vision and willingness to learn.
To stop myself sounding like a complete evangelist, these are some things I’ve learned:
Take a step back
When you’re working hard to reach a tight and looming deadline its easy to forget why you’re doing it and what the aim is.
Somewhere between the start of the weekend and the end we had forgotten that our pitch was going to get judged on specific criteria: Business Model, Customer Validation and Execution & Design. We spent hours trying to build a fully functional website, when we already had designs mocked up and hadn’t even begun working on the business model.
After a gentle nudge from one of the mentors we dropped the website completely and gave ourselves enough time to work on the things that mattered. In the end the judges said we still had more work to do on the business model — but that’s a huge improvement over nothing!
Teams are worth more than ideas
The true value of a startup isn’t the idea, its the team behind it.
On the first night everyone in my team went home feeling deflated, anxious and pessimistic about the next two days. We had no issue with individual motivation or coming up with great ideas. What we lacked was a sense of being in this together and a willingness to forgo personal interests to drive the team to success.
After some sleep and sustenance we all came back with a renewed sense of purpose. Everyone showed compromise, team spirit and eagerness to collaborate and the effect was palpable. We were a team. Not only did it make us much more effective, it made it so much more fun
You will fail
It’s not a case of if, it’s when — so fail fast and learn.
As with any startup, we failed… a lot. But that’s a good thing. Every time we failed we learned something new. Eventually we pitched an exceptional service that solved all of our customers problems and would disrupt the current market. You’ve guessed it — that failed too!
It wasn’t the best, but it was better than the before. And that was better than the one before. Don’t aim for perfection, aim to improve: your customers will appreciate it.
One last hurrah!
Firstly, I’d like to give a quick thanks to Hippo Digital for continuing to support my development and covering my costs.
If this event sounds like something you’d be interested in then make sure you check out this link for more info. Who knows, you might even meet your next co-founder…
If you’d be willing to volunteer some time to help out at the next Startup Weekend Sheffield or want to start one in your own city, don’t hesitate to contact the great people who made it all happen.