This time last Saturday, I was in Mobile, Alabama participating in my first Startup Weekend. The experience was incredible. The entire weekend was full of energy, engagement, and hospitality within a diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem on the rise.
Mobile is typically known for the bay and birthing Mardí Gras, however as I was soon to discover, the city’s been working diligently to create a diverse culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
For those of you who don’t know, Startup Weekend is a global Techstars initiative powered by Google for Entrepreneurs where groups of developers, business managers, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus, graphic artists and more pitch ideas for new startup companies, form teams around those ideas, and work to develop a working prototype, demo, or presentation in a mere 54 hours. These events allow both entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs to test out startup ideas and see whether they’re viable.
On Friday night, we kicked things off with 60-second open mic pitches giving each attendee a chance to describe their best idea and inspire others to join their team. After recruitment, the newly formed teams grouped together to formulate an initial business model canvas, individual roles, and Saturday’s activities for the remainder of the evening.
Throughout Saturday and Sunday, we focused on customer development, validating our ideas, practicing LEAN startup methodologies and building our Minimum Viable Product. We came together for whole-group workshop sessions and received ad hoc support from an experienced team of local mentors.
On Sunday, teams demoed their prototypes and received valuable feedback from a panel of experts for an opportunity to compete for prize packages full of pro bono services designed to help the newly formed startups take their next steps.
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- Customer Validation
- Is there a good understanding of customers and their needs?
- Did your team get out and talk to customers?
- Who will be your users, your customers (are they different)?
- How many users have you interviewed?
- Did you target the correct people to interview?
- What did you learn from your customer interviews (revenue)?
- What are the core needs of your users?
- Execution and Design
- What feedback inspired your Minimum Viable Product?
- Did you build a prototype (paper or powerpoint is ok)?
- How effective is your MVP for the weekend?
- How functional is your technical demo?
- How easy is it for the user to navigate and use your product?
- Were you able to incorporate customer feedback into the solution?
- Business Model
- Is this business feasible?
- Is it a big/unique idea?
- What is your key value proposition?
- How do you plan on making this a successful business?
- Have you thought about competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, revenue model etc.?
- Have you identified a specific target market?
- How will they acquire their first 100 customers?
And with that, the weekend was over. Now begins the process of hosting our own Startup Weekend! I will be organizing Startup Weekend Birmingham, November 17-19, 2017. If you or someone you know may be interested in volunteering as part of the organizing team please reach out to email@example.com.