Before the Weekend
Is this event for me?
If you are interested in entrepreneurship the answer is most likely yes. Whether you are a working professional, student, a serial entrepreneur or completely new to the startup scene, you’ll fit right in as long as you are motivated to build a product or startup and are open to new ideas. We believe that great ideas can come from anywhere.
The event is intended to be a collaborative and inclusive forum for sharing, learning, building, and having fun. At Startup Weekend everyone is welcome to participate regardless of experience, industry, or background.
Do I have to participate all three days?
Aside from the organizers, coaches, speakers and judges, all participants are expected to attend all three days. This is not only important to maintain the vibe of the weekend (“less talk, more action”), but also to minimize distractions/disruptions for the working teams. However, a “Sunday Presentation Only” registration option is available for those wishing to only view the teams’ final pitch presentations. We welcome any friends, family, or colleagues you would like to invite to watch your final presentation to see all you have accomplished in just one weekend.
Do I need a team?
You do not need a team. Attendees will form teams during the weekend. Teamwork is an important aspect of Startup Weekend.
Do I have to pitch an idea to attend?
No, you are very welcome to attend without an idea and work on someone else’s idea. Nonetheless, we encourage you to pitch your own idea.You can present something you’ve been thinking about for years or something that comes to your mind spontaneously at the event itself. It’s a great experience to get up on stage and an invaluable practice for public speaking.
What should I bring?
Bring lots of energy! Also, ideally you will bring a laptop, a power cord and whatever helps you to be most productive (we will provide notepads and pens, whiteboards, screens, etc.) Feel free to take pictures or a video of the event on your phone and bring business cards if you feel like sharing.
How do I prepare?
Think about what idea you’d like to pitch. Do some research. Understand the problem you are trying to solve so you can communicate that with others. Practice your pitch. You’ll have 60 seconds to persuade other attendees to join your team. Make it clear, concise, and convincing!
Bring a friend! Events are better with good company.
If you want to get a head start with some of the tools that you can use during the weekend, you can find a list of tools that can help you prepare here.
How much does it cost to attend? Why is it so affordable?
Please find the exact price and ticket order in the respective event link. The organizers, facilitators, coaches, and judges work pro-bono. Our sponsors also contribute to keeping the prices affordable.
During the Weekend
What happens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday?
Friday: Participants arrive in the evening, register, and begin networking during a light standing dinner. The evening starts with a short overview of the weekend by the facilitator and typically there will be a short talk with a speaker. After an ice-breaking game the “Pitchfire” commences – anyone intending to pitch has 60 seconds to present their idea. No presentations or props are needed for Friday, just you and a mic. After pitches are finished, all attendees vote on their favorite ideas. The top ideas to be worked on over the weekend are selected. Before the end of the night, you select your team, brainstorm and prepare for the weekend.
Saturday: Doors open in the morning with coffee and a light breakfast. Teams are prepared for their work sessions with two short workshops on business model canvas and customer validation. They then get to work all day, with the occasional breaks, lunch, and dinner. Guidance with short coaching sessions will be provided in the afternoon. In the evening you will get to refresh your mind with a fun inspirational activity.
Sunday: Doors open in the morning again and teams work from morning until mid-afternoon. The teams begin wrapping up product/prototype and presentation in the afternoon to practice their pitches/demonstration. Final pitches begin in the late afternoon. Each team typically has 5 minutes to present plus 2-3 minutes of Q&A from the judges (this varies based on the number of teams). The judges give valuable feedback to all teams and select the top teams. After the winning teams are chosen, participants get to celebrate and network with drinks and snacks.
What types of ideas can I pitch?
Any business ideas are eligible (whether for profit, ‘social’ businesses, nonprofit organizations, etc.) Think Big. Often ideas are tech-focused (with software as a service) which, given the short time frame, makes it easier to build a Minimum Viable Product. We strongly recommend that even non-tech ideas focus on a deliverable to be completed by Sunday.
Can I pitch more than one idea?
Depending on the number of ideas pitched and the schedule, you may or may not be able to pitch multiple ideas. Prioritize your ideas: pitch your best idea (and the one you have most prepared for) first.
Can I pitch my existing business?
No. Startup Weekend is designed to be the most effective platform for growing new ideas from the ground up over the course of a weekend. A key facet of the weekend – and a central value for participants – is the spirit of complete collaboration, buy-in, and ownership. We’ve found that having existing businesses in the mix undermines this spirit, in addition to creating an imbalance between those ideas that are truly ground level.
What if my idea doesn’t get selected?
The purpose of the Friday voting isn’t to exclude certain ideas, but simply to highlight the most popular and high-potential pitches and end up with a manageable number of teams – ensuring that each team has a variety of backgrounds and skills. If your idea isn’t selected, but you’ve managed to form a team (3 or more people) around the idea, you’re welcome to work on it over the weekend. If you decide to do so, however, please tell the event Organizer and Facilitator
How do I protect against people stealing my idea?
The short answer is that you can’t. If you’re very concerned, you can limit your pitch to the rough outline of the idea without giving away key information. The longer answer is that this is not something worth worrying about. Unless you are confident your idea is an easy-to-implement innovation that hasn’t been thought of yet, the advantages gained from getting broad-based feedback and a strong team motivated by collective ownership far outweigh the remote risks of someone stealing and executing on your idea. The truth is that over 90% of ideas pitched at any given Startup Weekend have already been pitched – probably many times – in the past. This doesn’t imply that the idea isn’t a good one, but rather that what truly matters is how well you and your team execute the idea. “One can steal ideas, but no one can steal execution or passion”.
Techstars Startup Weekend is about the educational experience of learning how to build a business, so even if you don’t pitch the idea that you’re worried about disclosing publicly, you can still take the learnings from the weekend and apply it to your idea afterwards.
How do teams address the issue of Intellectual Property/ownership?
As with any startup, the team decides. We don’t support or take part in the signing of any legal documents at the events themselves, and while Mentors with legal backgrounds are often present and able to give general advice, they are not permitted to give specific legal counsel. While it doesn’t hurt to be clear about your individual expectations from the start, we’ve found that teams who don’t spend time addressing this issue until it matters (i.e., there is a tangible product to have ownership of) are much more productive and successful than those who do.
Am I expected to work for 54 hours?
No. At some events, certain teams will decide to work all through Friday and/or Saturday night, but this is by no means obligatory or expected. Venues typically will close latest at midnight.
What resources/assistance are provided over the weekend?
A key part of every Techstars Startup Weekend is the valuable advice and assistance provided by the event’s speakers and mentors. In the spirit of our motto, “No Talk, All Action,” we try to keep talks short and sweet, focusing on practical issues (i.e. “How to give a persuasive pitch” and “Best approaches to customer validation”) that can actually help you and your team better achieve your weekend goals. Mentors – community experts in various fields ranging from entrepreneurship, software development, marketing, finance, law, and more – dedicate their time to provide advice. In addition to the most valuable resources at the weekend (the people), we’ve put together a list of some useful resources and tools for before, during, and after the weekend. Check out Tools for Participants page for more info
What are we supposed to have accomplished by the end of the weekend?
While there are no specific requirements in terms of what teams should have accomplished by Sunday, it’s in your best interest to plan your execution around what you’ll be judged for on Sunday:
– Customer Validation (did you vet your business?)
– Execution and Design (what did you build?)
– Business Model (do you have a plan for the future?)
As far as presenting goes, some of the most common presentations include any combination of the following (in no particular order):
– Mobile Apps (from mock-ups to skeletons)
– Slide decks
– Videos (i.e. product demonstrations, etc.)
– Live (mock-up) product demos
Why is it a competition?
Competition is not a central theme of Techstars Startup Weekend. Our goal is to cultivate a positive and educational atmosphere. We do believe, however, that some friendly competition can be beneficial to all parties and accurately reflects the realities of startup life. Just as it’s important to gather ‘real-world’ feedback over the weekend, it’s also important to have real-world pressures and obstacles.