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Learning to Get It Done: Startup Weekend

startup weekend stamford 2016This Friday, March 18th, we’re hosting our fifth Startup Weekend at the Stamford Innovation Center, and as you’d expect, we’ve been talking about it a lot. Last Tuesday, we held an informal briefing session at our weekly Innovation Roundtable, and we were asked: “What is it for?”

In other words, what is the point of Startup Weekend?

Why would 70+ busy adults and students get together for a whole weekend to create mock companies and go through the angst of pitching them in front of a big room? Why give up your weekend with the kids, the dogs. Why not binge on Netflix and tater tots?

Startup Weekend was created to give legs to entrepreneurial dreams. It is a concentrated moment where you get all that you need, from manpower to tech to mentors, to go through the process of creating a company. You get to learn, first hand, that you can do this.  Register here.

Ask someone from Startup Weekend how they thought the weekend went, and you will hear about great new relationships formed, about learning this or that. But much more importantly, you’ll hear people saying they’ve done things they didn’t think they could do. It’s like the rope ladder of startups – you don’t think you can walk across until you’re on the other side, proud and a little amazed at what you’ve just done.

startup process

What is Startup Weekend?

On Friday at 6pm, everyone gathers for some brief remarks, then the participants pitch their business ideas. The group selects about 10 pitches by consensus, and teams form around the ideas. Lots of teams get right to work, which is pretty great to see.

Saturday morning, teams start in earnest, developing the idea into a product or service, then we insist they do the scariest and most useful thing an entrepreneur can do – we kick them out of the building and ask that they go ask real people about the idea. That’s right, Startup Weekend is all about validation of your idea, and in the case of Stamford Startup Weekend that usually means going to the mall across the street and asking people. I’ll tell you after the first one or two, you realize most people are fine with being asked, and you’re having a blast talking about your new business.

For the rest of Saturday, teams get to talk to experts in everything from marketing to user experience to financing to presenting. It is an amazing opportunity to hear smart people that genuinely want to help you.

Sunday is all about the presentation. Teams are cleaning up their ideas, thinking of how to share them, and of course, fixing their product. Often this last means coding, and we’ve brought a bunch of developers to help.

Finally, Sunday evening, teams pitch to judges that include VC’s and Angel investors. For many this is the first time they’ve had this sort of pressure filled opportunity to impress someone of this stature.  It is both harrowing and amazingly confidence-building to create, develop and then finally present ideas to professionals and hear their honest feedback. It is always surprising how many things teams get right in less time than it would take to binge-watch Jessica Jones.

Why you should come to Startup Weekend Stamford:startup life

The world is changing quickly, jobs are not what they used to be, and these days everyone considers being an entrepreneur at one point or another. Startup weekend is your moment to come and learn the ropes. And perhaps also learn that you have what it takes to start something new, and give legs to your entrepreneurial dreams.

So please join us March 18-20th for a weekend you won’t forget.  Register here.

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