Cocaine for entrepreneurs
Those are two of the brainstorms from a quick get-to-know-you game for Startup Weekend Wellington attendees. Higher stakes are at play this Friday when they convene for what could be called business camp for grown-ups.
“Startup Weekend compresses the business lifestyle into 54 hours,” says Dave Moskovitz, organiser of Wellington’s second such event.
About 90 people descend on The Biz Dojo Friday night and anyone who has a start-up a-simmer gets one minute to pitch the idea. The group votes on a few to pursue, breaks into teams, and gets to work – with the help of mentors – on financial plans, prototypes, market research, and anything else that can sell it to the judges. On Sunday afternoon, successful business owners, investors, and other VIPs watch fully-fledged presentations promoting the new businesses and judges dole out awards – like $1,000 to the app that makes creative use of government data and a trip to San Francisco’s Kiwi Landing Pad to spend a month basking amongst Silicon Valley gurus.
“Look at it like a big garden with a lot of room to grow. Startup Weekend is not about chucking the seeds and seeing where they grow,” says Karen Bender of Grow Wellington, one sponsor of the event. The mentoring of successful business owners, the variety and concentration of skills and knowledge, the pressure of time, are unique to the event and essential. “There’s a way better chance that those seeds will succeed and grow.”
One winner of Wellington’s last event was an app that lets wedding guests pool pictures and share them live. It’s up and running at http://usnap.us/.
More than 45,000 people in 90 countries have attended Startup Weekends and the 25 waitlisted in Wellington are encouraged to head to Palmerston North next month.
“There’s one guy who’s been to all of them in New Zealand,” says Muskovitz. “People are addicted to this. It’s like the crack cocaine of entrepreneurism.”