This month, I challenged myself by participating in Startup Weekend Boston (@SWBoston). It was a unique, fast-paced experience that was a true crash-course in team building, communication and entrepreneurship. If you are thinking about participating in a similar event, read on to hear my experience.
Opening Night: Pitching and forming a team
On Friday night, attendees pitch company ideas that they want to work on throughout the weekend. Teams are formed organically around proposals with the most votes.
Microphone in hand, I stood up and pitched an idea that I had thought about for over a year - a shopping platform with features similar to Pandora, where users create an item or category search based on their likes and dislikes. The results are updated in real-time, and can then be saved and shared with friends. To my surprise, I had the most popular suggestion in the room.
Day Two: Lets do this
Fueled by our excitement and energy, my team and I got to work early the next morning. As the CEO, it was my job to motivate, engage and organize the group. I made sure everyone on the team fully understood the vision of my idea and felt a sense of ownership of the project.
We determined that our primary focus should be how to generate customer demand with our product prototype. Based on our goal, we mapped out our business plan and divided up into groups: marketing, customer development and prototype development. Most importantly, we named the company! We wanted something short and fashionable - Stylle.co was born.
Final Day: A Race to the Finish
On Sunday morning, the pressure really kicked in. Our presentation was due at 4:00 p.m. and we still had plenty of work to finish.
We needed to have a working prototype that we could demonstrate during the presentation. We also needed to launch the Stylle.co landing page while making a social media push via Facebook and Twittter. These platforms would help to establish interest and potential user demand. The Startup Institute Boston fall class gave their support through email signups and Facebook likes.
I presented for five minutes to a panel of judges, and took five minutes to answer a round of questions. Ultimately, our team did not win, but I was pleased we received an “Honorable Mention.” The judges thought I had a compelling business model and great potential.
Startup Weekend Boston was an exciting, fulfilling experience. That Sunday afternoon, I left feeling amazed at how much a group of motivated, focused and talented people can accomplish in one weekend. I encourage you to participate in the next Startup Weekend event!
Brittany Davis is in the Sales and Business Development Track at the Startup Institute Boston. After spending a number of years in the corporate world, she is now working towards her passion of building and growing companies from the ground up. Say hi to her on Twitter @iBrittDavis.