How to Prepare for Your Best Startup Weekend Ever

By Heidi Fuhrman | Small Business

We all love to hear a new business idea, but the power lies in putting action behind it. In the chaos of everyday life, it can be difficult to put concentrated effort toward lingering plans. Enter Startup Weekend, a designated time to transform an idea into a plan and then a startup — all in the course of a weekend.

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event that enables participants of various ages, educational levels, skill sets, and industries to come together to build startups. Participants pitch ideas and build teams on Friday night, develop their businesses all weekend with expert mentors advising, and then give a final presentation on Sunday night to a panel of judges. The weekend is full of fun and activity, but there are things you can do before and during Startup Weekend to make it even more productive.

Mental Preparation

The focus of Startup Weekend is to develop a new idea. Though not all participants plan to pitch a concept (some opt to join a team), most participants come with an idea they want to build out. Pitches are a quick 60 seconds, so think through your idea and practice your pitch beforehand.  Remember that you’re trying to recruit a team with various talents, so be clear in communicating your idea; put energy into it so the team members you need pick up on your enthusiasm.

Startup Weekend is a chance to grow and apply your skills practically, so know what you have to offer as well. If you’re pitching an idea, know your strengths and what skills your idea will need to attract. If you’re planning to join a team, know what you can contribute. Everyone has something to add, so don’t sell yourself short. This is a chance to grow your skills and further establish your niche.

Startup Weekend Suitcase

What do you physically bring to Startup Weekend? Your computer will very likely be your closest companion, so be sure to bring your computer charger, phone charger, and anything to make sure your techie self is taken care of. Organizers will have basic office supplies, but be aware that many events tend to run low on power cords and whiteboards, hot commodities in the startup world.

Bring a change of clothes or two (you’d be surprised how long the same clothes get worn in a room of developers; remember, you might want to make friends). Food and drinks will be taken care of, but be sure to let organizers know of any special dietary needs.

Show Time

Pace yourself; 54 hours make for a long event. People tend to push really hard the first 24 hours and are then left to run on fumes at the end. Use the energy of the first night to get a strong start, but then acknowledge your limits and get some sleep for the two full days ahead.

Maximize your most efficient hours of the day — if you work best at night, take advantage of that; if you’re an early riser, don’t stay up too late and then miss your most productive window of time.

Broaden Your Horizons

Forget about the business idea and make friends. The purpose of Startup Weekend is to put action behind an idea, but there’s great value that can come outside of establishing your startup. Look around the room: it’s full of driven, creative people, likely the same kind of people you want to surround yourself with. They could help you grow your business, connect you to experts you need to know, or become a friend or co-founder. Take the time to turn the focus away from the business and toward the people in the room.

Startup Weekend is the perfect chance to give focused attention to a new business idea and see if it has traction. It could be a fun weekend surrounded by innovative people — or it could be the spark that leads to the next great startup. It all starts with simply showing up, so find a Startup Weekend in a city near you and take action on your idea.

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