The four major things I took away from Startup Weekend Cincinnati:
- Continue to ask “why?” Understanding what’s in the hearts of people your product will serve is crucial. This means continuously asking “why?” again, and again, until you get to a meaningful truth about how people will use your product in their lives.
- Trust your instinct. Besides recognizing how the product would be used, whether what you claim is believable, and whether your idea is novel, a major question is how much do you like the idea? If your gut tells you your idea is just nice to have — versus being a must have — you should listen.
- Confidence, confidence, confidence. If you don’t have confidence in your idea, and what you’re really striving for, things can quickly fall apart. This tenaciousness and sense of confidence is important within your team as you decide on strategy and execution. And of course this conviction applies to your entire team as you sell yourself, along with your idea, to the judges at the end of the weekend.
- You’re a fool if you don’t take advantage of the resources you have available. Possibly what amazed me most about Startup Weekend was how encouraging and genuinely supportive the mentors were with each team. Sure, they might not have really believed in your idea, but they sure made it seem like they did. The respect they had helped our team as the weekend went on, and truthfully, it even helped inspire us at times. More importantly, they knew the right questions to help guide the teams so that we could remain focused, and so that we could create a sound business strategy before the final pitch. This idea doesn’t just apply to Startup Weekend, but also to those who want to start any kind of business: take advantage of the resources in your community. What do you have to lose?
I learned that people actually do (seriously?) over-use the word “pivot.” I learned that Monster calls its low-sugar drink “low carb.” I learned that marketers need to better brand ourselves at these kind of events (the label “non-technical” just does not cut it!) I learned that constraints will often result in innovation… I learned that the startup world is like adland, on steroids. I learned that what drives entrepreneurs is not the money, but the journey you make alongside other energized businessmen.