By April Joyner (Senior Reporter, Inc.) We've heard it before: You have a great idea, but you just don't have the time to build it into a sustainable company. Startup Weekend proves that notion false. The three-day event, which has been held in more than 120 cities, has spawned hundreds of businesses —- each in fewer than 54 hours.
Here's how it works: Participants pitch ideas for startups, which are usually (but not always) tech-based, and assemble into teams to build prototypes. Then, on the last day, the teams present their projects to a panel of local entrepreneurs and investors.
This month, the co-directors of Startup Weekend -- Marc Nager, Clint Nelsen, and Franck Nouyrigat -- published Startup Weekend: How to Take a Company from Concept to Creation in 54 Hours, which illustrates each step of the launch process with examples from the many participants who have launched their own companies.
Inc.'s April Joyner asked five Startup Weekend alumni for their biggest take-away from starting their companies with a lightning-fast launch.
For months, Alexa Andrzejewski had been hard at work on Foodspotting, an app that would let users photograph and rate their favorite foods. In August 2009, she came to a Startup Weekend event hosted by Women 2.0, a San Francisco organization that supports women entrepreneurs, with the hopes of finding a technical co-founder to develop the app.
While she didn't ultimately find a co-founder at the event, what she took away was nearly as valuable. Not only were the other participants enthusiastic about her idea, one investor was so impressed that he offered her seed funding for Foodspotting on the spot. Plus, Andrzejewski was able to consult a range of professionals, from lawyers to marketers to developers, for suggestions, such as strategies for partnering with restaurants.
"A lot of ideas we talked about at Startup Weekend are still on the product road map today," she says.
Lesson: Seek feedback from as many people as possible to gain wider perspective on your company's offerings. » Read the full article at The Economist.