Startup Weekend Taranaki

October 20, 2016

Last weekend I co-facilitated Startup Weekend Taranaki with Pascale, a team that in my view works very well: two funny accents, two funny last names, two very different backgrounds so we cover a large amount of ground to help deliver a relevant event.

Over the years both of us have been deeply involved in other experimental events, like Mashup and startup.school.nz where we explore ways of introducing entrepreneurship in other ways than the Startup Weekend format. Learning from these events and with the combined background of over 30 Startup Weekends we constantly push the format to become more relevant for the respective audience. The weekends are very intense and once everyone is out the building on the Sunday night we sit together and do an quick analysis on how the weekend went, what needs work next time, what went well and so on. On Monday Pascale and I had breakfast in New Plymouth and wrote down all the things we want to tweak next time.

One of the new things that went very well this time was the Lean Canvas session we did on Saturday morning. We quickly crowd sourced the business model for a taxi company, then pulled out a bunch of properties of that business - like price point, target demographic, target region and so on - and then did the same exercise with Ueber as a business model that focusses on a global market in the same segment. This worked very well and all teams understood the use of the canvas and made way better use of it compared to other Startup Weekends we have been at. Introducing the Value Proposition canvas at Saturday lunch time helped but was too late, next time we will try to introduce that on Friday night as a pre-exercise to the Lean Canvas.

Another addition we will make is the team building aspect. We have a few ideas on how to gel the teams on Friday night better to make sure we avoid people dropping off, wandering between teams of feeling lost in a team over the weekend. We also have a few ideas around ongoing team protocols so that we strengthen that aspect a bit more. Teams already learn a lot about team work but it would be nice it they could leave Startup Weekend with one or two tools that will help them in any new team in the future. The exact tools for this are still discussed but if anyone has good experience with one I’d love to hear about it.

Major achievement this weekend from my point of view was that all teams understood the Canvas. No teams starting over after Friday with new ideas that would have invalidated all work done leading up to that point. Teams that pivoted after Friday night were iterating over business models or customer segments rather than abandoning the idea. As a result we had less of the obvious business models and more interesting ones. Explaining the Canvas as a tool to quickly explore a business model and then start validating it paid off in my view.

The thing that makes me come back to Startup Weekend is this tweaking of the formula, this working on the format to make it relevant for the audience in the room. Trying out new tools to help the teams get the most out of the weekend and making sure everyone has a good time even if things are hard going every now and then.