Improving the Startup Weekend Experience

by Markus Tacker

: Improving the Startup Weekend Experience

I've been organizing and attending more then a dozen events in the format of a Startup Weekend in the past three years. In my opinion the default shedule for the weekend as proposed by the up.com, the Startup Weekend Organization, is not educating the teams enough to focus on what matters in those 54 hours: validate their assumptions about the business idea and prepare a presentation. Therefore I've created a new shedule which includes more concrete deliverables and divides the weekend into distinct slots which put the focus on them. The goal is to prepare and equip every team with the material and knowledge they need to talk to investors and new team members–because this is what they will be doing after the weekend.

The new schedule at a glance

  • The Friday schedule is kept unchanged. The difference is that once the teams have formed their task is to deliver their mission statement and an elevator pitch.
  • The task for Saturday morning is to define three assumptions about the business, e.g. why this idea will succeed, who are the customers, what is the market. The team then uses the time after lunch until dinner to evaluate the assumptions by going into the city to conduct interviews and finding their first real customers.
  • Sunday is dedicated to building a compelling pitch. This can be in the form of a presentation or a prototype. It is important to focus on every aspect of the idea: business, realization, team, uniqueness, and wit!
  • The schedule also includes more clearly defined slots for the presence of the coaches.

Deliverables

Teams are tasked to deliver:

  • a written mission statement (max. 10 words)
  • an elevator pitch (max. 1000 characters)
  • written assumptions about their business and evaluation plan
  • a written evaluation of those assumptions
  • a business plan presentation (max. 3 slides)
  • a pitch slidedeck

Schedule

Time Activity Task Coaches
Friday
1800 Registration - -
1830 Registration - -
1900 Dinner - -
1930 Welcome & Pitches Start Optionally line up to give your pitch Present for introduction
2000 Pitches " Present
2030 Voting Attendees vote for the top pitches Present
2100 Form Teams Find your team for the weekend Coaches briefing
2130 Form Teams " "
2200 Mission Statement Begin to work on your idea. Assist team building, mission statement
2230 Elevator Pitch " Present
2300 Deliver Written mission statement (max. 10 words) and elevator pitch (max. 1000 characters). Coaches leave
2300 Build Work on your idea until the venue closes. -
Saturday
0830 Breakfast
0900 Assumptions Define three assumptions about your business and plan how to evaluate them. -
0930 Assumptions " -
1000 Assumptions " -
1030 Assumptions " -
1100 Assumptions " Present to give feedback.
1130 Assumptions " Present
1200 Deliver Written assumptions and evaluation plan. Present
Feedback Get feedback from the coaches. Present
1230 Lunch
1300 Evaluate Leave the location and go to the city to evaluate your idea by talkting to possible clients. Try to find your first customers! Presence optional
1330 Evaluate " "
1400 Evaluate " "
1430 Evaluate " "
1500 Evaluate " "
1530 Evaluate " "
1600 Evaluate " "
1630 Evaluate " "
1700 Evaluate " "
1730 Evaluate " "
1800 Evaluate " "
1830 Dinner Return to the venue to replenish your energy "
1900 Evaluate Evaluate what you have learned together with the coaches. Write down what you have learned. Coaches help interpreting the learnings.
1930 Evaluate " Present
2000 Deliver Written evaluation of your assumptions. -
Business Plan Formulate your business plan. Coaches help to get you started.
2030 Business Plan " Present
2100 Business Plan " Present
2130 Business Plan " Present
2200 Deliver Deliver your business plan presentation. Three slides max. Coaches leave
Build Work on your idea until the venue closes. -
Sunday
0830 Breakfast
0900 Pitch slidedeck Work on your pitch presentation and slidedeck. The slidedeck must include: a summary of your saturday learnings, the business plan slides, team presentation with names and contact information. -
0930 Pitch slidedeck " -
1000 Pitch slidedeck " -
1030 Pitch slidedeck " -
1100 Pitch slidedeck " -
1130 Pitch slidedeck " -
1200 Pitch slidedeck " -
1230 Lunch - -
1300 Pitch slidedeck " Present to give feedback
1330 Pitch slidedeck " Present
1400 Pitch slidedeck " Present
1430 Pitch slidedeck " Present
1500 Pitch slidedeck " Present
1500 Deliver Pitch slidedeck. Failure to deliver will result in pitching without a deck. -
Pitch practice Practice your pitch Present to give feedback
1530 Pitch practice " Present
1600 Pitch practice " Present
1630 Pitch practice " Present
1700 Pitches! Time to shine on stage -
1730 " " Present
1800 Dinner - Present
1830 Judging - Present to answer judges questions
1900 " - Present
1930 Awards - Present
2030 Wrap-Up - Present
2100 Go Home! - -