Startup weekend write-up

Ever since attending Startup Weekend 2012 in Palmerston North (NZ), I have wanted to visit another one of those great events that happen across the globe. This weekend passed, it finally happened. Right here in Hamburg.

stickerabo-team-900
The stickerabo team: Patrick and me. Photo: Startup Weekend Hamburg

If you haven’t heard about startup weekend: In the course of 54 hours, developers, designers and people of all areas get together to pitch ideas, work in small teams, develop a serious business model, a prototype and analyse the shit out of the market. On Sunday, a group of well picked judges watches the final pitches and selects their favourites.

During those 54 hours, our team was working on the idea of stickerabo.de – and here’s what I learnt in the process.

  1. Pitching an idea won’t kill you. With a few ideas I had in mind, I decided to actually pitch one on Friday. Turns out, all the sweat and adrenaline was worth it. As long as you’re prepared.
  2. Be prepared. There’s a lot of inspiration on how to pitch available online. Building up on the simple structure of Problem – Solution – Call to action helped me.
  3. Listen to your mentors. The two of us were actively discussing our idea with our mentors throughout the whole Saturday. No, you cannot actually code during that time. But having the chance to talk to experienced mentors throughout the weekend helped us have a look at our idea from all sides.
  4. Believe you can come out on top. On Saturday afternoon we had completely sucked all substance out of the idea, drowned it in a sea of challenges and had reached the perfect point to just cancel the whole thing. Only then did we realise what our minimum viable product was.
  5. Don’t launch on Saturday night. If it can break it will break. And you won’t sleep well if you know something is broken.
  6. Launch on Saturday night. Is “Move fast and break things” the new “Keep calm and carry on” already? Either way, shipping stuff and receiving feedback is important.
  7. Iterate. I’m happy we focussed on working on our final pitch from Sunday morning onwards. Brain dumping everything into rough slides, removing the unnecessary and slowly getting rid of all bullet points. That’s what helped us refine our message and narrow down our actual sales arguments.

So that was it. New friendships where made, business cards exchanged (we are so grown-up, eh?). And as it happens, Patrick and I actually won the “Overall” prize in the end. As happy as that makes us, we were completely taken by surprise. I dropped the glass trophy right there – thanks again to one of the organisers who caught it mid-air.

stickerabo-award-900

Photo: Startup Weekend Hamburg

The thing we’ve been working on is stickerabo.de. We offer a free subscription for stickers (think band stickers etc.). You sign up, tell us about your interest and enter your postal address. We go hunting for sponsors who are interested in connecting to their target group on a physical level and are willing to pay us to spread their stickers. I still believe we have a strong concept around that and we are now in contact with potential partners.

With all the excitement of the weekend slowly settling, we are seriously considering following up on this project. Stay tuned. And also look out for any startup weekend happening near you.