My Thoughts on Startup Weekend Izmir

I had my first startup weekend experience last week at izmir. It was awesome to be there with a bunch of entrepreneurs and great mentors.

I'll be sharing my thoughts on the event in this blog post, it can be useful for the entrepreneurs who wants to be in the next startup weekend.

Before anything else, I would like to thank @ebiltemtto and viveka for their marvelous effort for the event. It was a smooth event for both mentors & entrepreneurs.

The crowd was fantastic, we got 41 ideas from almost 300 entrepreneur for the event. Unfortunately, there was a 10 team limit for the event. (Which is quite sad, but necessity).

Since I was working on the organization part for technical issues, I couldn't be in the contest, but my team mates from enforce started up a project called journify. (Spoiler: they won the contest)

I'll generally share my ideas on SW to win the contest. I hope these tips will be useful for people who wants to be in coming startup weekends.

1- Don't Be an Engineer!

Startup weekends generally consists of 3 to 5 people teams, and usually, teams have more than one engineer to work on the project. The problem I noticed at the event was focusing on the engineering tasks too much.

No, you just can't do that if you don't have a simple project. Please, please, focus on the idea, business model & market. You just need to create a very simple MVP of your project. Remember you are doing a 5 minutes pitching after 2 days to jury and they really don't care which technologies you have used and how efficient your system is.

For example, if you are using X service on your project, and for some reason, if you have trouble with the Y piece of the X service, forget it, just make it static content and skip it.

2- Pitching is important!

I can easily say that the pitching process is everything for winning the competition. I would work on the presentation for minimum 6 hours. Especially if you are not experienced speaker, you will need a lot of practice. Prepare your presentation as simple as you can, again, focus on the product no more then 2 min.

You need to have a solid business model and a valid market to sell it. Jury members generally consists of local investors, so they will probably doesn't look for ideas like "I'll make money with advertisements".

If you are doing a tool, Software as a service with 3-4 meaningful packet is the way to go. If you are doing some e-commerce thing, cut on payment is the nice one. You would also like to have some pptx templates from graphicriver to make your presentation sexy.

3- Learn Some Basic tools!

There are beatiful tools out there for developers. Consider learning some of them for faster development. Amazon Web Services is one of the sponsors of the startup weekends, you will probably get a 100$ credit for AWS. So, it can boost your development process if you are not a DevOps guru. Learn how to use basics of AWS, it will be very useful.

Please, don't lose time writing your own css/js at the event. Consider using bootstrap, gumby or foundation. You can thank me later.

4- Everyone Likes statistics!

Once you got your idea on your head, it's time to learn if people really need it, and really want it. Generate a 2 min survey from surveymonkey and let people took it.

If you can reach good results, show it to the Jury. If you can't reach good results, than consider pivoting your project. Seriously, no body cares your problems, you need to solve a nice percent of peoples problem.

5- Filter Mentors!

Every mentor on this kind of events look your project in negative ways. They are trying to drive you into the corner. They are doing valuable job, because when you can't find an answer in front of Jury, thats a problem, but when you can't find an answer against mentors, you will have time to think about it.

But don't take everyting serious, as i said, mentors just trying to practice you against Jury. Mentors are your friends, Jury is the enemy. Learn how to filter what mentors say. Try to learn from their feedbacks and don't be shy to ask anything to them.

6- Have Fun!

Startup weekends are priceless events. It is full of fun. Meet with people, talk with anyone, try to make a network. These events happen once a year and, enjoy!