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Should we host a Startup Weekend?


Date: 
Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 12:00pm

This past weekend Martine and I were able to participate in a "Startup Weekend". It's an experience we'd like to share with the community, and I'm reaching out in hopes of having something similar here in the Gulf Islands Archipelago.

We attended UBC Startup Weekend: Social Ventures Edition, a weekend-long event, part learning opportunity, part "speed dating" for entrepreneurs, and part Dragon's Den without the TV portion.

Startup Weekend events are underpinned by a global organization, and are happening often, and all around the world. More information about the global organization behind Startup Weekend can be found on their website.

Participants at the event find their way onto teams. Each team works toward building a potential new business. Each team rallies around an idea for a business, and by the end of the weekend, each team gives a presentation on what progress they've made toward building that business as a viable operation.

In our case, we worked on a team that was working on a business model which reduces or eliminates disposable packaging from grocery shopping experiences. Stay tuned to hear whether we're able to bring that particular vision to reality.

But more generally, not only did we learn a lot about getting businesses off the ground, we also met a significant number of people who might be able to help us with future challenges, from finance issues to finding business partners and ultimately with finding and helping those all important customers. We got valuable advice and now we have a renewed energy around generating opportunities for ourselves.

The next obvious step for us is to see whether or not we could host something similar here in the Gulf Islands.

The kind of event I'm currently envisioning may differ quite a bit from Startup Weekend in detail. We may, or may not, be able to attract a certain minimum number of participants to our event. If we could find 15 people to attend, we may be able to have only two or three teams. In that context, a contest might not make so much sense. That said, the contest model certainly lends a valuable frantic energy to the event, and its something we would hope to keep as part of the experience.

Does any of this resonate with you? At this point I'm most interested in hearing from potential participants, event hosts and partners. If any of this appeals to you, let me know (through the contact form on Active Islands) and we'll see how far this vision can go.

Comments

I interested in this subject, not because I want to start a business, but because I know that there are a few people on the island who are interested in starting a) an art school and b) a boat building school. I have a few questions, how are you going to select people to come to the weekend, and how are you going to promote the weekend? I suppose I mean - are you going to list possible businesses or let it be as it happens? And I think that if people who are interested in such things had info about what resources/helpful personnel would be available at the weekend then a lot of interest could be developed.

Thanks for the questions Arnie!

> how are you going to select people to come to the weekend?

The one we attended had a ticket price of $100, with no other barrier to entry. If you were interested in attending the learning experience, you could.

> how are you going to promote the weekend?

Every way that our budget would allow, including word of mouth to people we think would be interested, but in particular those who we think might have access to networks of interested people (i.e. the Chambers of Commerce, etc.) with a heavy dose of Facebook, Twitter, Print Publications, etc. but only when the offering is better fleshed out and we've crossed a threshold of interest.

> are you going to list possible businesses or let it be as it happens?

We can list examples in the promo, but if we stick to the format, a participant must pitch the business idea for it to be considered. One key question for us at this point is whether to try for an actual "Startup Weekend" branded event. To that end, we'll be reaching out to that organization to see if their support a) makes sense to them and b) would be of significant advantage to us. If we were able to go that route, we would get significant support, but would need to play by their rules.

> I think that if people who are interested in such things had info about what resources/helpful personnel would be available at the weekend then a lot of interest could be developed.

We agree. Early support for the idea has been strong and we're reaching out to people "on islands" as well as "in town". It could be a destination retreat for budding entrepreneurs from a variety of places. The balance to strike there will be whether we can keep local interest high if the local component isn't emphasized.

Let me know if you'd like to be put on the list of early organizers.