Six Observations from Startup Weekend

I spent the past weekend glued to my laptop, helping put together a cool app called Man Badges in 48 hours at Startup Weekend at Hacker Dojo (sponsored by Women 2.0) It was my first Startup Weekend and I really enjoyed it. There have been some interesting responses so far from other newbies but I wanted to share my perspective and the six things I noticed.

1) People ramble during idea pitches and demos

The organizers enforced very strict cut offs for pitches (60 seconds) and demos (5 mins + 3 mins Q&A). At first it seemed harsh, but then I realized it’s because almost everyone will ramble when they are handed a mike if they don’t have a clear and *real* timeline.

2) Food, seating/table space, outlets and wifi are the key resources to any kind of Hackathon

Seriously, besides awesome people, those  four are the key ingredients to making an event like this a success. I think Startup Weekend did a phenomenal job with food, a solid job with space and outlets, but really bombed on wifi. We often ended up going back to a coworker’s house to hack more because the internets were just soooo sloowww.

3) Ship-driven energy is contagious

If eveyrone around you is working furiously towards finishing something presentable in less than 2 days, you stop getting distracted about random stuff – and start focusing on shipping. It’s inspiring and really cuts to the core of what startups are all about – making things happen out of nothing.

4) There is a big difference between building an idea and building a solution

Most of the “startups” that came out of this weekend were apps would do something interesting and might be cool to talk about as a new way of doing things. This is very different from the small batch of startups that actually thought hard about a really problem and developed a solution around that idea. Both are valid, but make sure you know which one you are.

5) Plan for some teammates to drop out

I’m the kind of guy who really goes all out for things, but I know some people don’t do things my way. Many teams (including my own) slowly started to lose players over lack of time and hunger, tiredness and de-motivation. It happens. Adapt.

6) Be prepared for anything if you pitch a man-app at a women 2.0 sponsored event

Right before Man Badges went up to present, I was a little nervous as I had no idea how everyone was going to take it. Luckily everyone had a good sense of humor about it and I was quite relieved. Our demo went great and the app was well-liked: check out all the tweets.

    All in all, I had a really good time. It was hard work, but fun too and I got to meet some interesting people. To see more pictures, head to the Women 2.0 Facebook album. If you’re interested in learning more about Man Badges click here.

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    Jason Shen

    Jason is a tech entrepreneur and talent expert. He is CEO of a performance hiring platform called Headlight, a Fast Company contributor, and an advocate for Asian American men. Follow him on Twitter at @jasonshen and subscribe to his private newsletter.

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