Mega Startup Weekend: Exhilarating, Disastrous and Inspiring

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By Christina Gunarto (Strategic Alliances Manager, Smaato) Going to Mega Startup Weekend last weekend was like drinking ten 5-hour energy drinks. I have never had so little sleep in my life yet feel so energized. The side effect is an oscillation between feeling extremely invigorated and hitting rock bottom.

If I had to pick 3 adjectives to describe my experience during startup weekend it would be: exhilarating, disastrous, and inspiring.

First, what is Startup Weekend? Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups.

#1 -- Exhilarating

The Startup Weekend crowd is made of smart, motivated individuals who often have a track record of success or are rockstar developers. Though I don’t feel that I am on the same level as most of the people there, I told myself that my goal for the first day was to pitch. You get a great jolt of adrenaline from that process, and then move into sales mode as you float around the room persuading people to like your idea and join your team. But that’s just the beginning.

#2 -- Disastrous

Forming a team is the easy part. Managing and organizing a team of 5-10 highly motivated, talented and opinionated people is hard. End of the first night, we came to some sort of agreement on what to do and divided up the tasks. The problem was blindly trusting that things would get done, and as I drove home at 1am Friday night, I got an uneasy feeling of not knowing what to do.

My biggest mistake was making too many assumptions -- assuming the team was on the same page and that people knew the direction of where the product should go. When I realized that the project wasn’t coming together as anticipated Saturday evening, stress and panic overcame me. That was until I met one of the judges and mentors assigned to us. He gave me some great pointers regarding leadership and also told me that I had lettuce in my teeth.

#3 -- Inspiring

I was extremely lucky to have a group of people who were dedicated, talented, and supportive. Looking back, we accomplished a lot -- a working iPhone app, a website, 4 corporate sponsors, and a business pitch -- all in 54 hours.

After many disagreements and a lot of laughs, we bonded over this project and we had a lot of fun working together. Members of my team were positive thinking individuals and that helped lighten the mood during the darker times.

In the end, we did not win or get a consolation mention. However, having gone through the experience opened up my eyes on the importance of leadership, teamwork and project management. I had never been so proud of myself for failing.

Photo credit: Erica Kawamoto Hsu of Kuishimbo Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Christina Gunarto is a Strategic Alliances Manager at Smaato, a leading global mobile advertising startup. Previously, she co-founded Dogopolis, a startup focusing on unique, creative and fun ways to enjoy life with your dog. Christina enjoys meeting new people and learning about innovations and ideas in tech. She graduated with a degree in Architecture from UC Berkeley.