Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2015
Lisa Wain’s Reflection Journal
What we’ve been preparing for!
After nine weeks of preparing her ENT311 students, and many hours organising this major Sunshine Coast Event, Magareitha Scheepers welcomed her students and guests to Startup Weekend 2015. Having attended Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2014, I had an understanding of the journey I was about to embark on and felt that the nine week lead up to the big event provided me with an advantage.
The Right People On The Bus
The book “Good to Great” written by Jim Collins reveals that one of the seven characteristics of great companies focuses first on “who” then “what”. Collins calls it “getting the right people on the bus”. Being involved in multiple businesses over the years, I recognise that a business is nothing without the team. The team is everything and it helps if you know who you can work well with.
Preparing for the 1 minute pitch
One of the characteristics of being an entrepreneur is that the mind never stops coming up with new ideas. I am still trying to work out if this is a curse or a blessing, but even after nine weeks of preparation for the 1 minute pitch, I decided to pitch a completely new idea on the night, with basically no preparation.
This experience has challenged me to evaluate the effect this behaviour has on both my personal and business life and has lead me to a commitment to research strategies to deal with this issue in the future and therefore improve my chances of success.
One minute goes quickly when you have a big idea to get across, so I only got through about half of my pitch. I was disappointed as I left the stage and felt that the audience would not embrace the idea.
There were a couple of valuable lessons learnt from this experience.
- It pays to rehearse.
- The audience doesn’t know your pitch, so make sure you get the main message across in the first few sentences and end on a line that really engages the audience such as “You can’t hide from your own shit”
Time to Vote
The audience’s response to the one minute pitch was surprising and confirmed for me my reflection regarding not finishing my pitch, the audience didn’t know what had been left out and the first part of the pitch was enough to capture interest and as a result gain enough votes to be selected in the top thirteen ideas to work on over the weekend.
The follow up 30 second pitch provided me with the opportunity to complete my pitch and in turn delivered another valuable lesson: It pays to have something of value to add to your pitch should you be provided with the opportunity to say more.
In keeping with the concept of “getting the right people on the bus” discussions took place on Friday night with several interested parties but it wasn’t until Saturday morning with people shifting out and moving in that the team really formed and we could get to work
The team grew on Sunday after calling in a favour from a couple of people we knew could add value to our MVP.
Developing an MVP
The advantage of being a part of Startup Weekend as an ENT311 student is the understanding of the tools that could be used to assist in formulating the idea into a minimal viable product. The team engaged in a focused session using the Business Model Canvas, ensuring everyone was clear on the products deliverables.
As the morning progressed and the idea began to take shape I found the overall team update sessions very valuable for two reasons:
- It created space for the team to stop and evaluate what they had achieved.
- It helped us to benchmark our progress against the other teams.
Mentors & Coaches
Advice and encouragement from the mentors and coaches over the weekend was invaluable. They provided us with some challenging questions and helped us to refine the idea over and over.
Customer validation was undertaken early on Saturday morning and showed us that we needed to refine the idea further so that consumers understood what the product would do for them.
A pivot took place when, with the help of one of the mentors, we recognised that the biggest potential for revenue for our product was in solving a problem for the retailers rather than the consumers.
The final pitch
Recognising ones strengths and weaknesses is important and it was when I recognised that the youngest and newest member of our team could articulate the idea better than I could that I decided to pass on the role of delivering the final pitch. Under prepared again, we ran out of time in the final pitch causing me to reflect and identify unnecessary activities undertaken during the weekend and realised that the final pitch was the actual product that was to be produced over the weekend.
An Honourable Mention
It was easy to recognise the teams that had prioritised their pitch, coming to the stage well prepared and rehearsed, resulting in a superior delivery. Nonetheless Team YODA was surprised to receive an Honorary Mention which provided us with immediate feedback that the idea was worth pursuing and we had reason to celebrate after an exhausting weekend.
Where to from here?
Team YODA have decided to continue validating the concept and have made initial contact with the Retailers Association of Australia. We have also begun work on a minimal viable product (MVP) which should be ready in about month.