I’m not going to say it better than Jack Dietrich, so I’ll turn it over to him. Not everyone will have the experience Jack outlines below, but this is exactly what your organizers want this event to represent in Charlotte’s entrepreneurial ecosystem: connecting risk-takers with their support system and building businesses together.
So what’s your idea? Yep, the one that keeps popping up in your head. You’ve searched nearly every page on the Internet for it, but nobody’s doing it or at least doing it well. You’ve whispered it to your closest friends in passing, got scared and later made them promise not to tell anyone. Heck, you’ve even come up with a list of possible names, and cranked out a few ill-designed slides.
So now what? Well, you’ll do what you did with the last idea: nothing. Someone else will do it, you’ll have an odd sense of relief, forward a link to your friends and hope that they’ll marvel at your genius. So here’s to you Mr. (or Ms.) Ideas Guy On The Couch . You’ve never failed. How could you have? You’ve never really tried. You were too busy/don’t know how to code/insert excuse here ___.
I ran out of excuses. Couldn’t blame it on homework – I had finished law school and only had a few business school classes left. Didn’t have a career that would be hard to abandon. I’d already fulfilled a desire to join the Marine Corps. And my lovely wife had been solely winning the bread for so long, why stop now?
Enter Startup Weekend Charlotte, May 2011:
Friday – Pitch my idea. Get more votes than some others. Form team. Show them those ill-designed slides from a few weeks back. Create weekend plan. Try to go to sleep.
Saturday – Figure out how to talk to developers. Realize from the other team members that I hadn’t thought out every feature. Keep everyone on track. Sleep…a little.
Sunday – Narrow down what goes in the presentation. Keep self and others from slowing down developers. Rehearse presentation. Try not to sound like Troy McClure. Present. Congratulate team on runner-up finish. Drive home. Sleep a lot.
Monday Morning – Now what? I had as good a demo as one can have after 54 hrs, but no real product, team, or plan – just a little validation. And I’m still Mr. Ideas Guy, but now I can fail.
So where to start? And here’s why Startup Weekend can be misleading. It’s been nearly 5 months and the “weekend” has never really ended for me (and that’s exactly what I signed up for).
I’ve leveraged the connections from that weekend. A member of a different team set up a meeting with the partners of one of the event’s sponsors. Amazingly, they had the deep industry experience that I lacked, joined me, and helped turn the project into a company. Over the next month, I kept in contact with the two developers from my SW team, who were busy with their own companies. They generously offered to clean up the demo, so that we could easily hand it off to the next developer. It just so happens that the new guy is the founder of the winning team (also launching soon). And next week, I’ll be pitching our startup to investors at an event presented by the entrepreneur organization that our company received a one-year membership to as a result of our runner-up finish.
Startup Weekend, itself, is a format that gives you the opportunity to go from idea to execution. It’s the people – the organizers, speakers, sponsors, judges, mentors, and team members – that are invaluable for the more important of the two stages – execution. Here’s a hint: you won’t find them on your couch.
From a very grateful founder,
CEO & Founder of TagSeats
TagSeats is a soon-to-be-launched web and mobile application that allows fans to discover where their friends are sitting at concert and sporting events – and share their own seats. For more info: follow @TagSeats & join the invite list at TagSeats.com