The opportunity to build a start-up in a weekend with expert support and mentoring is back, with Startup Weekends set to take place in Sydney, Adelaide and the Gold Coast in July, and Melbourne and Perth later this year.
Lead organiser of Startup Weekends in Australia, Dinesh George, told StartupSmart the events are designed to welcome and empower people new to the start-up community.
“The way we actually position and pitch our events is for new people. I’d say around 80% of people are new, they’re fresh and not in the start-up scene. We’re their first point of contact and we take that seriously,” George says.
“It’s all about teaching people how to start something and that’s why we get so many developers, designers and marketers.”
The 54-hour program over three days is designed to bring start-up enthusiasts together to work on a series of ideas pitched on Friday.
On average, half of the attendees have business backgrounds and half have design or technical backgrounds.
Attendees form teams and develop the strongest ideas over the weekend through validation, business development and building a minimum viable product (early working version) of their idea.
George says the international focus is around the learning experience and the program’s success is due to how it differentiates from hackathon-type events.
“It’s not about winning, that’s too hackathon. We have in-kind prizes that will have things to support you on that journey,” he says.
“What we consider success is the guys being able to come up with something and being ready to give up their job because they’re so confident. That’s a win for us. But it’s also a win for our team if they decide start-up life is not for them, because it’s not for everyone.”
Previous successful graduates of the program have included Tweaky.com, Native Tongue and Index Media.
George says the focus on validation is the strongest part of the program.
“Watching ideas morph from the pitch on the first day, to something more important is really exciting,” says George. “It’s a bit scrappy in a sense, but it’s built that way to keep you on your toes, and to get you out of the building and find your potential customers.”
George says the team is increasingly focused on vertical events, after their first mobile-focused event last year in Sydney and an upcoming education-focused event in Perth.
Next year will see Sydney or Melbourne take place in an international vertical event focused on fashion, sponsored by Westfield.
By the end of this year, Startup Weekend will have run nine events in Australia, two in each city except for the Gold Coast, which is hosting its first event this year.