That Startup Weekend Magic

Say you work at an established company (read: not a startup). You hear friends and colleagues rave about Startup Weekend and you don’t get it. There must be something you’re missing, some reason to mark off precious weekend real estate for something that sounds like work. What’s the deal?

We can explain. 

At Mindbox, our leadership team alone has organized over fifteen Startup Weekends, facilitated fifteen others, and participated in even more. We’ve volunteered thousands of hours to bring the event to our own communities and even to areas we don’t reside, from Ohio to Oregon, from Cali to Florida. We don’t give so much time because we’re saints. It’s no sacrifice. It’s almost selfish. We always come away feeling like we receive more than we give.

Startup Weekend is a fifty-four hour event. It kicks off Friday evening and wraps up Sunday evening. That narrow amount of time offers a full immersion, a deep educational experience. The flow is simple: Participants pitch new business ideas, team up, and rapidly iterate through the customer validation process. On Sunday, teams present and judges award the ones that made the most progress.

These events aren’t about making progress on your existing startup, though nothing’s stopping you from pitching a business model that’s similar to your current one. This event is a glowing opportunity to vet your ideas, make meaningful connections, and hone your entrepreneurial skills. 

Sure, most startups built at Startup Weekend don’t continue into Monday, but some do. The point is this: Where else in your work life can you experience a no-strings-attached freedom to try on something different, something new?

Here are just a few of the reasons that we’ve fallen head-over-heels for Startup Weekend.

1. They lower the barrier to entry.

Never founded a business before? Founded and sold several successful startups? It doesn’t matter. All you have to do is buy a ticket and show up. The ticket includes all of your meals, a well-crafted agenda, and plenty of help. An event participant once pulled me aside to tell me that he had taken more than his share of business classes, but nothing compared to this opportunity to put it all into practice.

2. They train leaders for the new economy.

Not everyone who participates in Startup Weekend goes on to launch their own startup, and that’s perfectly okay. As the economy continues to shift under the influence of technology, job descriptions are changing. Startup Weekend doesn’t replace the need for more traditional educational models, but it creates an on-ramp. And in our experience, that on-ramp gives participants the pedal-to-the-metal momentum that they won’t get by simply reading manuals and sitting in classrooms.

3. They’re just fun.

If you’ve ever played a pickup game, you’ll recognize the feeling. Get together with different people than you see every day. Spend time exploring the possibilities with them. Maybe you’ll find out it’s an unbeatable combination. It’s guaranteed you’ll learn more about yourself and how you want to approach business.

Startup Weekend is for everyone. It’s not a Doctor Xavier’s Camp for Founders with Fancy Titles. They foster a vibrant, fertile environment that protects what’s new, what’s next, and the good that’s emerging inside participants and outside in our communities. Nothing teaches like experience and nothing revitalizes like fresh experience. 

Ready for your first Startup Weekend?

Our team members are co-organizing TWO this coming weekend: one in Redding, California and another with a food ecosystem focus in Eugene, Oregon. These events happen all over the world, so look for a date and location that works for you.

About the author

enjoys working with entrepreneurs and innovators to solve problems using technology. She heads up Ascend from beautiful Eugene, Oregon.