Ever been to a Startup Weekend? This weekend, the next edition of the global hackathon takes place once again in New York City. Designers, developers and aspiring entrepreneurs of all walks of life will gather to pitch ideas, work through the weekend and present a live demo to a panel of judges. Not to mention all of the schmoozing and card exchanging that comes with an intense weekend of working on ideas in one place. Sound like fun? Have the idea that will make you the next tech superstar? Already have a ticket but not sure what to expect? Don’t fret. Here are 5 tips for first timers to keep in mind:
Don’t pitch- I know it’s tempting. We all have ideas that we think will make it big. How many times have you told yourself if I could just find a developer, if I could just find that one designer who can bring my idea to life, this thing could be huge. If you have an idea that’s really burning a hole in your pocket, by all means, pitch. This is first and foremost a learning experience. But, you don’t have to show up armed with a groundbreaking idea or really any idea at all. Particularly if you have a specific skill like design or developing, sit back and hear all the pitches then take your pick of which team you want to join. Believe me, teams will come looking for you and sell you on joining them, plus you don’t have the pressure of being the de facto team leader since you pitched the idea. Get your lay of the land first time around and pitch next time.
Keep the team manageable- Sometimes it’s unavoidable because there are a finite number of teams and lots of people, but every participant deserves to be on a team and can contribute something. Try not to be an a-hole and tell people they can’t play with you. However, that doesn’t mean as soon as it’s time to put your team together you should run around the joint asking anyone who’s willing to come join you. Too many heads can get in the way and there are only so many things that need to be done in one weekend. 3-5 people of varying skill sets are an ideal size to aim for.
Don’t stress- Keep things in perspective. There are no binding contracts here or commitments past the weekend. It’s very easy to get caught up and start thinking about where this will be five years from now. Don’t worry at this point if you can’t stand one of your team members, someone is too bossy or not doing enough to contribute. Just aim to have something you can be proud of at the end of the weekend and then if it’s something worth moving forward with, awesome!
Bring business cards- If you’re an undercover recruiter on the hunt for fresh meat, this must be shangri la. Everyone there has aspirations of doing something new and most of them have a marketable skill. One of the best parts of the weekend is the opportunity to network. You never know who you might meet that can help you in some way or even become a potential partner down the road. Be social, don’t be shy and make contacts!
Be prepared- Startup Weekend is a lot of fun, but be prepared to work your butt off. You’re essentially working all day Saturday and half the day Sunday, getting your project ready for the demo. Not to mention hearing all the pitches and going through the voting process on Friday. Bring a laptop, a positive attitude and lots of energy!
Keep these tips in mind and you’re on your way to an awesome weekend. Who knows, maybe one day soon we’ll be featuring your awesome project right here on ideatoappster!