Before I start, maybe I should give a quick overview of what a Startup Weekend is.
The concept of SW is that people with an idea for a startup, and people who have skills and would like to be part of a startup meet up and over the course of a weekend try to make something happen!
Attending a Startup Weekend is the best thing you can do to start your entrepreneurial journey. Below is a list of the 5 reasons I think you should go:
1. The right type of people
When you attend a startup weekend you quickly realise that the sort of people that are willing to give up their weekend to try and do something entrepreneurial are exactly the sort of people you need to be around if you are hoping to start and run a business.
(As well as the right type of people, you might find the right type of animals, as spotted below at SW Dublin)
2. Part of a community
Starting a business is tough, especially if you are doing it alone. When you attend a SW you quickly realise that there is a community of people out there who are going through the exact same trials and tribulations as you. Over the course of the weekend youll inevitably hear about all the cool startup events in your city, and you will also find out about the incubator/accelerator scene.
A startup weekend offers your various levels of validation. First up it is the attendees as a whole that choose which ideas make it through to the ‘finals’, so right off the bat you are getting a good poll of smart people as to whether your idea is any good or not! From the events I have been to there were 3050 ideas pitched, 12 or so of which are selected to be worked on, so right away you know whether your idea resonates with people.
If your idea does make it through then you will be pitching on the Sunday to a panel of judges. Typically the judges award 1st, 2nd and 3rd placings, so if you were to finish in the top 3 youd really know you were on to something! If I was interested in starting a new business I would absolutely 100% attend a SW for validation alone.
Pictured: Karl Murray of WarpFM in action
4. Great mentors
One of the best aspects of a SW is that the organisers typically get an awesome lineup of mentors and advisors from various specialities such as finance, marketing, or in my case presentation design. The attending mentors are always an extremely helpful and generally well connected bunch, so be sure to keep in touch with them after the event.
Pictured: The awesome organising team at SW Dublin
5. A kick in the ass
I have mentored at 2 startup weekends at this point and I always feel like it gives you a real kick up the ass. Youll leave the SW full of beans and just generally be buzzing with creative energy. I think its probably because you manage to do so much and meet so many people in just 2 days that you realise you can really achieve a lot if you just put your mind to it.
However, there is a flip side to all this. Along with the kick in the ass that comes with the SW, there will always be the inevitable post-SW-blues. Once the dust has settled, and Monday has rolled back around people return to their normal daily work routine and realise how damn boring it is! My twitter feed the day after a SW is always littered with people lamenting the passing of such an awesome event.
I remember prior to my first SW when I was first approached by Jayne of Startup Weekend Cork to be a mentor my initial thoughts were, hell no, no way was I being dragged down to Cork to some nonsense event. After much mulling it over I decided to go, and honestly I couldnt have been more wrong about the event, it was truly amazing and has turned out to probably be the most important events Ive attended as an entrepreneur.
Mentoring at Startup Weekends (5 to date I think) has introduced me to really vibrant communities that I hadnt really had access to before. Ive met great people, made great friends and hopefully Ive been able to help people on their startup journey. Keep an ear to the ground and the next time a SW comes to your town get that ticket right away.
So there you have it: 5 very good reasons why you should attend the next Startup Weekend that comes to your city.
The next Dublin Startup Weekend kicks off on July 10th. Get your tickets HERE.