I was at Startup Weekend London at Google’s new Campus London this past weekend. I had a load of fun, learned a lot and would recommend it to just about anyone.
Startup Weekend is essentially a Hackathon on steroids. The objective is to go from an idea to a Minimum Viable Product over the course of the weekend with a team of enthusiastic people put together on the spot. The formula is a winner.
There are lots of activities to encourage networking and team-building and the energy was buzzing. Things started out with a mixer activity that saw randomly thrown together teams pick a pair of words (kinky/fast anyone?) and pitch an idea to get people in the mood. Afterwards about a third of the 150 or so attendants pitched an idea. People were given time to discuss and vote for their favorites. After some last minute instructions teams formed for the evening and people went home.
I was torn between a couple ideas. One was a mobile travel app “What Now” that provided ‘in-destination planning’ by letting you prepare your daily plans on Hotel wifi to avoid expensive roaming charges. This is definitely something I’ve tried to do in a cobbled together approach so it sounded good.
The other team, the team I eventually joined, was “DeskNinja” - basically a marketplace for empty desks (AirBnB for Workspace). I put my name down for DeskNinja, we formed a team of interested people, and everyone left for the evening. Team creation was a sight in itself - lots of recruiting, smooth talking, and last minute changes of mind! The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind of planning, organising, talking to customers, hacking, and pitching. The gamut of emotions included despondency, terror, and exhiliration. The best part was meeting lots of people from different backgrounds excited about starting something new. The group of 15 or so stragglers that ended up at the Hoxton Hotel as Sunday gave way to Monday clearly didn’t want the weekend to end, and who could blame them?