The work we do supporting our nationwide base of IT support customers is critical to our business but the work we do with our charity and education partners is just as important. Not only do we strive to provide the best experience possible for our RDS Academy students but we are also adamant about ensuring the spirit of entrepreneurship, creativity and business innovation continues to grow in our own city of Derby.
As a result when the opportunity became available to sponsor the first event of its kind in Derby, Startup Weekend – we were happy become a sponsor and partner up with the organisers to make this a success.
What is a Startup Weekend ?
A Startup Weekend is a get together of people who want to work together and build something. They may have an idea, a dream or just a desire to help build something new. Over the weekend ideas are pitched, selected, validated, prototyped and presented. All with the help of each other and some battle hardened industry experts acting as mentors for the weekend. Finally on Sunday evening people present their business to a panel of Judges, a winner is selected and everyone celebrates to a great weekend.
Sounds interesting right! So how does the weekend actually work?
Friday: Everyone gets together for some food and networking. A wise entrepreneur will tell a tales of toil and plight that ends in ultimate triumph. This leads onto a fun idea pitching warm up that prepares people for the main event the “Pitchfire”. If you have an idea this is your chance to pitch the room and hopefully get selected to form a team. You only 60 seconds per pitch so keep it concise and let people know what you need help with.
Once everyone who wants to pitch has had their 60 seconds worth its time to network, talk and cast votes on your favourite ideas. Then the topmost ideas get to form teams where ideally you want a selection of skills such as a designer, developer, marketer to help bring the idea to life. Even if you idea did not get through you can still form a team if you can get at least three people to agree to join forces.
With a team formed its time to go home and try and calm your over excited brain down and to try and coax it to sleep ready for Saturday.
Saturday : You have and idea and a team now what. The mantra for the weekend is ”No talk, all action” so its time to get out and validate your idea. Although you do need to talk we want to make sure your idea solves a problem that people have, so you need to know what problem is that your idea solves. Who is it that experiences this problem and where would you come across them on the weekend? Its time to get out and speak to the public about the problem NOT the solution. Note down the stories and then get back together as a team to share your research.
Do people have this problem your idea solves? If not maybe the research highlights something similar that you can “PIVOT” too? If they do its time to start doing some prototyping, research on possible rivals, research, etc.
Sunday : Time to carry on where you left off, if you have some product prototypes show them off. If you have no prototypes now is the time to build them. Try and find some people from your target market again and get some feedback. Would people actually hand over some hard earned cash for this? You get some google Adwords credits and a free domain in your pack for the weekend, use them to create a marketing site and see what kind of engagement you get.
Sunday evening : time for everyone to get together and marvel at what each other has achieved. Each team puts on a short presentation followed by a Q&A session with the judges. After every teams presented, the judges go off to confer and you get to eat and wait. The winners are announced and its time to relax, chat and celebrate an amazing weekend with your new friends.