6 hints on how to keep momentum going after Startup Weekend.
I had the chance to participate to the last Startup Weekend in Lausanne, Switzerland and it was a fantastic experience. I was also lucky enough to end up in a great team who won the 2nd prize and I fully enjoyed the energy of the event. But what happens next to all these great teams? Most of them will not continue to work on their project and those who will do it, won’t have the support they deserve. For the Lausanne edition, only the winner team will have one year of coaching from an IMD MBA student.
Fortunately, the Kaufmann Foundation realized that something had to be done in that direction and they created the Startup Weekend NEXT program, which is aimed at bringing the former participant teams to the process of Customer Discovery as presented by Steve Blank. I will bring SW NEXT to Geneva (for the French Switzerland area), which will start on May 23rd.
But other than that, let me give you six hints on how to keep the momentum going after Startup Weekend.
1. Keep in touch with you team. During the weekend you had the chance to create a strong bond between your teammates. This might even go beyond the project you were working on. Connect on your favorite social network (better if professional) and keep knowing each other better. Schedule meetings, dinners and fun activities together and try to see if some other business opportunities may arise. Consider also that one goal of Startup Weekend is that of letting like-minded people meet and discover each other.
2. Keep in touch with your mentors and coaches. These fantastic people that mentored and coached you will be available to meet you again. They can also provide you with their own network in case you need to reach customers and partners. Don’t waste this great opportunity. Moreover, you might find out that mentors and coaches are also nice people to hang out for a pizza or a beer.
3. Keep learning. To many participants, Startup Weekend was an opportunity to learn new ways of starting a business. Although I believe that theory alone is not enough, I still see value in studying the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. I am probably biased here, but I strongly advise you to read the basic books of Lean Startup and be informed from several blogs, as for instance that of Steve Blank.
4. Keep exploring. With your team, you begun the process of customer discovery since you were encouraged to get out of the building and interview potential customers. For many participants that was a quite new approach and proved to be somehow discomforting. Yeah, it is much better to search the web and get ready-made market research information… Well, that is a big mistake. You really need to understand the market first-hand. Therefore, I strongly encourage to keep talking (and mostly listening) to potential customers.
5. Keep participating to other similar startup events. You might even want to do a Startup Weekend several time, why not? After all, perfections comes out of practice! There are many other opportunities to develop entrepreneurial skills in more or less safe environments. We all know that the paralysis of failure affects many young entrepreneurs who feel never ready to meet their customers or investors. Practicing entrepreneurship on a smaller scale such as Startup Weekend or Lean Startup Machine could be a way to increase self-confidence and win over the fear of failure.
6. Keep having fun! Last but not least, entrepreneurship must be fun. Otherwise you cannot bear the sacrifices it demands, such as no money before 1-2 years, full and overtime dedication, lot of failures and pivots, conflicts and deceptions with teammates. But if you have a vision and you believe you can achieve it, you will afford all obstacles with a smile. Keep also in mind that entrepreneurship is not about making money and becoming a celebrity. It is about changing the world for good and make impact. Even if the scale is small, improving the world is always a great achievement!
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