After classes ended, my boyfriend Ebb and I traveled from New York City to my home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Over our first weekend back home, we attended the annual Techstars Startup Weekend. The tickets were $75 for a 3 day, 52 hour event that has the potential to transform an idea to viable business.
I actually participated in the first Techstars Teen Startup Weekend when I was in high school. My team, Pronto, an affordable skate wear company, won first place! Check out the video here.
Unfortunately after the weekend was over, the group quickly disbanded and nothing came of it. This time around, I was determined to have a viable business by the end of the project.
DAY 1 – Brain Dump Ideas
What happens is this: theres a few icebreaker activities, then mostly everyone pitches an idea, you vote on which are the best ideas, and then you choose which teams you want to work with. Then you work with your team and various mentors until the final presentation.
Initially, I thought I was going to pitch my new business The Stranger Shop and hope to work on that over the weekend. I figured, it was a new “enough” business and I thought that it would have a good chance of being voted as one of the final ideas. But you have to pitch a brand new idea so I just pitched the wildest thing I could imagine and it just happened to be chosen!
DAY 2 – Prioritize and Refine
Day 2 is all about fleshing out the ideas you threw around the first day and transforming them into your minimum viable product (MVP). Determining your MVP is absolutely essential to building a strong presentation on the final day. It also needs to be tested out in the real world as soon as possible by conducting questionnaires and interviewing local businesses, so we made sure to get it done as soon as possible.
With some teams, this may be the most difficult step to do if people have differences in opinion or if the team leader has a laid-back attitude. Fortunately, my team was on the same page about what was the best course of action and we were able to come to an agreement very quickly!
DAY 3 – The Pitch
On the final day, it’s all about writing, practicing and perfecting your pitch. We had pitched our concept 3 times off-the-cuff on the previous day, and recorded it each time to build upon it. We decided to give our judges a small print-out of our main points in order to keep their attention on the presenter (me) instead of the slides. You never know who is going to be in the audience and you want your hard work to shine though!
Excerpt from my pitch
- I’m sure it was no coincidence that we were the last people to leave on all three days of the startup weekend. Utilize the experience to the fullest extent!
- Have an open mind when developing your strategy, but be clear on what your end goal/vision is and do not deviate from it!
- If nothing else, startup weekend is a wonderful opportunity to network and make new friends, so have fun!
I’m currently working hard to make my idea a reality and I’ll post updates here on my blog as they happen! And as always, thanks for reading ❤