Where Do 100 Entrepreneurs Work 54 hours Over the Weekend to Produce Excellent Startups?
Ireland of Course!!
When most people leave work on Friday, they look forward to time off, putting the feet up or maybe having a pint or getting ready to go out on the town. Not this crowd. They went straight back to work. Building businesses or setting the world to rights. And they spent the entire weekend at it. Right up until 10 o'clock Sunday night.
The event was Startup Weekend Dublin @SWDub. Hosted at Google's Barrow Street Campus, and sponsored by many, it attracted over 100 entrepreneurs to see who could build the best business in 54 hours. Sleep was optional. Good
humor and friendliness, while not mandatory, were in evidence right up until the finish.
The weekend event was an impressive feat both for the organizers and the participants. It kicked off Friday at 7pm in Google's European Headquarters in Dublin. The first task was to select which projects would be worked on over the weekend. This was done by asking the participants if they wanted to pitch their ideas to the crowd. If you didn't like public speaking, this was not the place for you since you had to stand up in front of over 100 strangers and told them about your pet project. You had one minute to do that, and no more.
There were 38 pitches in all. Each participant was given three votes, and during voting, people got the chance to talk to each other to find out more about the projects and each other. The projects were then narrowed down to 14 finalists, and then team building began in earnest. Between that and project kick off, it was midnight before many finished for the day.
Projects were judged on three criteria: Customer validation, the Business Model, and Execution.
Execution included setting up social media accounts, building a landing page and having a product demo ready. It also took branding like logos and product names in to account. The business model included charts to explain the model and making a video to present the idea or product. Finally, validation included reaching 100 followers or Facebook "likes," doing some research on the street to ask at least 10 random people what they thought of the idea, and making an online survey
with at least 20 respondents.
Saturday was a long day. It began at 8am with breakfast and then a workshop on defining, prototyping and visualizing an idea. A team of business mentors was on hand to guide the teams and to help them fine tune their business plans.
But most of the day was spent building the business using the criteria set out. Again, it was a late night with some participants reporting that they finished up at 4am. "We had to kick some people out of the building. That's the kind of commitment we had over the weekend," said Benoit Curdy, one of the organizers.
Sunday got off to another early start: Breakfast and a workshop on building a business model before
heading in to the final stretch. Pitches started at 7pm Sunday in front of six judges. They were Shay Garvey of Delta Partners, Josh Holmes of Microsoft BizSpark, Will Prendergast, partner at NCB Ventures; Martin Kelly, partner at IBM's Venture Capital Group; Eoghan Jennings of Parklane Capital, who is also an organizer of StartupBootcamp Dublin; and Conor O'Connor of AIB Seed Capital Fund.
Myneighbourhub.com (@mynhub), a social property management solution, took the glory. And that's what it was. Apart from some goodies, the weekend was really about building a business. Aiming to help both apartment dwellers and property managers, the Myneighbourhub team plans to cut costs for management companies while getting problems resolved quickly for tenants.
Making the presentation, team member Heather James, said managers want to be seen doing their jobs and tenants want solutions to problems. However, management companies can get flooded by calls if a problem impacts many residents.
Myneighbourhub.com's plan is to sell their service as a productivity enhancing tool. They persuaded one customer to verbally commit over the weekend, Steen Gordon said. "If we can improve their profit, we can make a profit ourselves," he commented.
Care CoPilot came second with their app to let caregivers share medical information. This is targeted at adult children sharing responsibilities caring for elderly parents so that they can keep track of medications, treatments, etc.
Matchbook (@thematchapp) came third. This is an app that allows clubs to put match programs online without having to pay for expensive glossy brochures. It offers smaller clubs an additional means of generating revenue, and saves fans money while giving them a chance to interact with players on a social platform.
And then it was over. Wrapping up, Benjamin Larralde, one of the organizers joked, "I guess that's it. It feels kind of weird, so go home."
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