Well, maybe not EVERYONE but I do think that most people should participate in a Startup Weekend at some point in their lives.
We had our first Startup Weekend here in Charleston this past weekend and it was a great turnout with some cool results.
Just before the demo presentations yesterday I spent a little time speaking with several people from the College of Charleston. CoC’s computer science department required their students to go through the Startup Weekend event. I thought that was a wonderful idea. These students were placed into a dynamic environment and required to think on their feet, work with a team, hash through a product/business idea, think about the market, customer acquisition, competition, and scale issues of their team’s idea, then mock up a UI and actually start working to produce a product.
This is such a great experience that I thought it really shouldn’t be limited to computer science students. The content and value here is so much more than just hacking code. Business major? Yeah, the idea pitch needs an outlined business plan. Marketing major? The idea absolutely needs to be marketed and sold to be successful. Finance? Big YES! Production costs, sale price point, growth rate, target margin, etc. are all part of the equation.
During the demo we of course got to see the product or mock-ups but we also listened to a five minute pitch (with a hard stop at 5:00 minutes). Then a panel of judges got to ask questions. What’s the market size? Customer acquisition cost estimate? Growth rate estimate? Competition? Time and funding to make it happen? Why’d you decide on X? Why did you rule out Y? And so on.
This is so much more than a hack-a-thon that I can see the value way beyond tech people. It’s a slam-dunk no-brainer for business school students but in all seriousness I think the exercise/experience would be good for just about anyone. Even if you have no interest in tech or running/managing a business, working with a team, hashing out all these issues, and just thinking through all the factors – within a very short 54-hour time frame – would still be a valuable experience for you.
I’m looking forward to attending more of these events and watching both the process and the results. Look to see if there are any Startup Weekend events scheduled for your area, and if so, consider attending. I think it will be well worth the time spent and be an excellent and enlightening experience.