Simultaneous Startup Weekends in California

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Planning on being in San Jose this Friday night for Scrappy Startup or South Bay Startup Weekend? Join us for a Women 2.0 Mixer in the PayPal parking lot in San Jose on Friday!On Friday, April 30th, 2010, Women 2.0 is meeting up in the PayPal parking lot from 5pm to 6pm. For those of you who are unable to attend Startup Weekend, this is a FREE opportunity to mingle with other startup founders (current and aspiring). People say "never eat alone" for good reason, and Women 2.0 is here to build relationships between entrepreneurs and startuppers! Food trucks in attendance will be MoGo BBQ and Treatbot, providing Korean BBQ tacos/sliders and ice cream, respectively.

A (Few) Days in the Life of a Startup Weekend Participant

By Sophia Perl, South Bay Startup Weekend Participant What startup idea can you and complete strangers come up with and work on for an entire weekend? I've always found the Startup Weekend concept interesting, more so from the perspective of a non-startup person. If you're like me, you have many ideas brewing in the head but no time and/or place to let it all out. Startup Weekend gave me a taste of startup life and helped me meet some really cool and smart people.

The evening started off with some speakers on the topic of startups. Then the real fun began. Franck, our trusted Startup Weekend leader, invited whoever wanted to pitch to come up on stage and pitch for 60 seconds or less. About 40 to 50 people lined up to pitch their awesome and not so awesome ideas. Shaherose, Women 2.0 founder, helped out by summarizing the pitches for the audience. This turned out to be a harder task than I would have thought because some (not all) pitches were quite cryptic. Only the pitcher knew what he said and no one else understood. If another person can't repeat or summarize your idea, it's generally not good. Imagine having a confused investor.

I desperately wanted to pitch an idea. Then, 10 pitches in, the idea came to me. I pitched the idea of an event discovery application. I related it to an existing business but said it's for events instead, and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to convey the idea in so little words and time.

My pitch strategy:

  • One-line pitch. Figure out how to relate your idea to an existing business so that you can use less words to explain it.
  • Who am I? Show that you have street-cred with the audience. People want to work with smart people.
  • What is the problem and who has the problem? Explain that you understand the problem well.
  • What is my solution? Talk about how only you can solve the problem.
  • What kind of skills are needed for the team? Ask for what you want and recruit with a focus.

After all the pitches were done, we were left to organize into groups. It took 30 minutes when all said and done. I did my best to keep my idea alive and recruited like crazy. That night, the survival rate for ideas was 50% (50 pitches boiled down to 25 projects). At the end of it, my team consisted of 3.5 developers (I counted myself as 0.5), 0.5 of a UI person (he was part-time with us), and 3.5 business folks (0.5 for me again!). A group size of 7 is not too bad considering some had as little as 2 and as high as 10/12.

For the next two days, my team worked hard at our assigned tables. Our goal was to have a working demo by Sunday night. We started off by re-introducing ourselves including skills and brainstorming on what we wanted to build. After that, it was work, work, work. We had multiple status checks throughout the day and constantly asked if anyone needed help. Everyone was there to work and get things done. It was great.

Sunday was the big demo/presentation day. It came sooner than we had hoped. Midway through the night, we presented our working demo of a light event discovery mobile web application. We kept the presentation light and somewhat funny because everyone was so tired already.

All groups had 5 minutes to present on Sunday. Most were interesting, some were not so much. Here are ideas presented: Foursquare for music listening, social networking at or before an event, delivery of pre-picked outfits for men, war game of Foursquare mayors, get a map of the parking rules on SF streets, finding the status of a person that you’re waiting for, privacy layer on top of Twitter to exchange messages with non-followers, and product recommendation site. In the end, the winner of the evening was EnglEasy, videogames to teach kids English. The judging criteria consisted of 1) wow factor, 2) investment attractiveness, and 3) team spirit. As a winner of Startup Weekend, EnglEasy got a chance to present (2 days later) at Web 2.0 Expo Launch Pad. Congratulations to them! They were also mentioned in TechCrunch. Woo hoo!

Overall, Startup Weekend was definitely a fun, worthwhile, and tiring experience. I signed up with the high hopes of meeting like-minded people and maybe contributing to a promising startup idea. I came away with both and much much more.

More on Startup Weekend: A hacker-entrepreneur’s survival guide to Startup Weekend by Jennie Lees.

Startup Weekend South Bay is Friday, April 30th through May 2nd, 2010 in San Jose, CA. Anyone can pitch an idea and build it in a weekend. Engineers, designers, marketers... everyone is welcome! The truth is that the Startup Weekend does not always "work" in building a startup in a weekend -- 10% of the time, your project is founded, and 90% of the time, you meet someone you’ll still be in touch after the Startup Weekend. Check out what happened from Women 2.0's last Startup Weekend. Not in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend? Los Angeles Startup Weekend is happening this weekend as well at the CoLoft in Santa Monica. Speakers include Scott Sangster, Mark Suster, Wil Schroder, and Sean Percival. Women 2.0 members save 20% with coupon code "women20" here.