StartUp Weekends

So back in August last year I was curious about start ups and attended the Palmerston North Start Up Weekend at Ucol. I was fortunate to have a team that was truly dedicated to making a difference in the world and we all worked extremely hard over the weekend and walked away with a win.

Ok now I know you are thinking, back the truck up and tell me what Start Up Weekend is and how does it work?
Well it's basically starting up a company in 54 hours with complete strangers who all have different skill sets that can take a business idea and make it a reality. So to make that happen, you pitch an idea to the crowd, see if it gains enough traction to form a team. The team then works their butts off to try to validate that there's a market for your idea and build a presentation that you pitch in front of judges in a 'Dragons Den' style pitch and question and answer session. If the judges like what they see, there's a chance of investment as there are usually some investors present. If your team is judged the best, your team gets resources and help to take that idea to market.

The weekend was a real eye opener for me to see exactly what can be achieved in such a short space of time. I am still working with this group and the idea. I got such a buzz out of the first one that 2 weeks later I headed off to Tauranga for another one. The goal being, to find out more about the lean canvas and learn more from the mentors so that I can apply to my own business. Again, the team I was in won. I thought I would do one last one and so headed off to Wellington in March. The goal this time was to see how the urban centres compared to the provincial towns. It didn't start well. I was too busy talking to a business mentor from the Dunedin based incubator Upstart, that I did not actively go out and choose my team. I kind of fell into one. That quickly disbanded when we couldn't move forward and I went and approached the team that I was really interested in. Again, that team won. Because of this win, I was invited to Dunedin to speak at their Start Up Weekend.

Each of these weekends have provided me more professional development than you could shake a stick at. But the best thing of all is the people you meet. Whether they are a team member a mentor or a volunteer, you walk away from these weekends having met some brilliant minds and learned a thing or two. There are so many willing to help and give advice. The tricks and tools the mentors give you to work through a problem are invaluable. These are highly experienced people and give you their time for free. The whole thing is run by volunteers. This truly is an MBA in a weekend and you'd do well to check one out. You have a choice of going to Hawkes Bay on the 28th June or Tauranga on the 5th July.

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