This article contains content that was written as a guest post by previous StartUp Weekend participants Richard Smith and Lukas Lilja.
A lot can happen in 54 hours. Thinking about joining the upcoming StartupWeekend event? Want to know more? All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekend culminates with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback. Here are two stories from participants Richard Smith and Lukas Lilja about how they transformed their ideas into startups in just 54 hours.
Richard Smith tells about his experiences over the weekend and his adventure with Abetic, the team that brought it to life and the potential it has today:
Launch a startup in 54 hours. That’s 8 minutes for the pitch, and 3,232 minutes getting there.
For us it started with Karl. On the first night the other potential team leads used their 2 minutes on stage to explain why we should form a team around THEIR ideas. Karl spent the time explaining how we should leave our comfort zones and enter our ‘magic’ zones, where the great things happen. This immediately put most people out of their comfort zones. He also said something or other about eSports, peers and betting. Turns out eSports = online games, 100 million people play, watch and love them, there’s currently no way to bet with your friends on them, and Karl is a crazy good developer. Sounded like a plan. Andreas the designer / online gamer and Ivan the innovation specialist / totally-not-online-gamer thought so too and we had ourselves a team. A lot of other ideas sunk immediately due to lack of interest and a few more due to lack of developers. However, by late Friday evening, nine other ideas had floated with teams on board.
The hours from Saturday morning to Sunday evening were a blur of computer screens, whiteboards, brainstorms, ‘blue sky sessions’ and for some the occasional ‘ideas shower’. Others didn’t seem to shower at all. Throughout people would pop their heads in turning out to be super-experienced mentors, experts in just-the-field-you-needed-to-learn-about or connectors to someone else who was. Their input stress tested every element of our idea and every element of our pitch so well that in the closing minutes we were fortunate to be announced the winners.
If you’ve been thinking of becoming an entrepreneur but are stuck in a holding pattern on how start – just sign up! Then use the short time you have to meet as many people as you can, discuss your ideas with anyone who will listen (which turns out to be pretty much everyone there!), learn the process and how to best pitch it. You might not necessarily get a startup out of it immediately, but you may well meet the people you’ll do the next one with. We were lucky; 3 months on we’re still going strong with interested investors and a minimal viable product in the works. If you’re a front-end developer – call us, by the time you read this we may still have a place for you. If you’re an online gamer – keep an eye out! Abetic will enable a hundred million people to bet with their peers on the online games they play, watch and love, intensifying the gaming experience!
The following is a story from participant Lukas Lilja and his vision of a humanitarian clothing startup, aiming to make the world a better place:
I came with an idea, I left with a business.
I have for a long time had an idea for an ethical clothing brand, where we would not be content with just not making the world any worse, but rather for each item sold to make the world a better place. The most practical idea we had was what we later came to call the NotMine-belt. For each belt sold, we sponsor the removal of a landmine somewhere in the world. On each belt the number of landmines left in the world is printed, counting down from just above 82 million, the approximate number of active landmines remaining in the world. The buyer would also get a video including the Google Earth location of that particular landmine, and a video of the actual detonation. But there were a lot of pieces missing.
I had no idea that over one weekend, we could get our design, marketing plans, marketing material and web-shop up and running. I had experts in marketing, product development, design and E-commerce, all contributing with crucial input, work that would have otherwise taken months to finish. To have a 3D-printer on site to test the designs suddenly gives you the chance to see what they would look like in reality. But more than anything, all the encouragement and all the contacts made me believe in the idea. There is also something else. Usually, most people you talk to about your idea are quite negative to new ideas. However, spending an entire weekend with highly positive and engaged people who will not only encourage you but also provide you with crucial input, and in many cases will say: oh, “I know someone who could help you with this”, is fantastic.
Are you thinking about it? Stop thinking; start doing. At worst you will only end up with an inspiring weekend, loads of new contacts and friends and a thousand ideas. At best, you will have that idea that you managed to transform from an idea to the next Spotify. Pro-tip: if you are pitching, make sure your pitch is well rehearsed; the best of ideas can be lost in a poorly prepared pitch. Today: three months later, we are about to launch our first product; we’ve initiated discussions with investors and are already looking into new products. It’s great!
There are only two weeks left until the StartUp Weekend: Health and Wellness Edition, and only ONE DAY left until the early-bird tickets expire! Sign up here. In addition, the Stockholm Startup Weekend team also organizes bootcamps and socials. More info at http://stockholm.up.co