Startup Weekend Melbourne Women, Part 1

(This is Startup Weekend Melbourne Women, Part 1: The Schedule, and will be followed by Startup Weekend Melbourne Women, Part 2: The Projects!)

From Friday 16 May – Sunday 18 May, Startup Weekend (“launch a startup in 54 hours”!) held a special edition event: Startup Weekend Melbourne Women.

This had a similar structure to the She Hacks hackathon (see my write-ups, part 1, 2, 3), but there were also a few significant differences (maybe based on feedback from She Hacks? I’m not sure!) that made it even better.

The Schedule

Friday night

  • Pitch room – A room was designated as the pitch room. If participants (about 42 women!) had a startup idea, they could go there, and practice / get help on their pitch.
  • Introductions and icebreaker activity – Next, everyone came together, and the organisers introduced themselves and officially kicked off the event. Everyone had to get into groups of 6, and then every group was given two silly words. They had to come up with a startup idea based on those words. Then, the teams pitched their ideas to everyone present. (Good icebreaker activity, and I think it got everyone into the groove.)
  • Pitches – Everyone had an opportunity to give a short pitch for their startup idea. I’d say about 15 people shared ideas. At the end, each Pitcher had to write their idea on butcher’s paper and blue-tac it onto the wall, so that there was a big wall of ideas.
  • Pitch voting – The organisers brought out post-it notes in 3 different colours – one colour for hustlers (marketing, etc), one for hipsters (design, etc), one for hackers (developers). Each person was given 3 post-it notes, in their designated colour, and they had to write their name on the post-its. Each person then put a post-it note on their 3 favourite ideas.
  • Pitch voting tally – The organisers tallied the votes on each idea, then left the 7 top ideas on the wall, and removed the remaining ideas.
  • Winning pitchers choosing teams – The 7 winning pitchers took their sheets from the wall, and stood around the room. The people who had put post-it notes on their sheet had to go over, introduce themselves, and say why they would be good on their team. The pitchers then chose 5 people to be on their team (so, in the end, there were 7 teams of 6 people).
  • Dinner & teams formed – The newly formed teams got to know each other better over dinner, and their first chance to all talk about the startup idea.
  • Initial planning – There was a bit of time to start a plan of attack, or, for some teams, this time was spent re-thinking the idea and adjusting it. I was a mentor for this period, and was able to chat with a few teams about their ideas and what they were planning to do over the next two days. I encouraged a couple of teams, who weren’t sure about their ideas, to use the Javelin Experiment Board on Saturday morning to test hypotheses and possibly mutate their ideas.
  • Q&A with judges – A couple of the pitch presentation judges (which happens on Sunday) were present, so there was a brief Q&A with them.
  • Yoga
  • 10PM end – Good end time.

Saturday

  • 9am–10pm Work – I wasn’t around for Saturday, but teams were working on their startups and pitches all day.

Sunday

  • 9am Work – Teams were working on their startups and pitches.
  • 3pm Pitches – Each team presented their pitch, and then there was Q&A with the judges. I think this was supposed to be 15 minutes of pitch feedback from the judges, I’m not sure – but I didn’t understand it. The judges mostly used this time to ask additional questions. It was interesting, though, to see some teams get quite defensive during this time, as the judges questioned some of their decisions and assumptions.
  • 6pm Judging and announcements – The winners were announced in a strange way. Each team “won” a prize – there was first and second prize, and then other prizes like “Community Prize”. The prizes weren’t explained, and some of them actually seemed to come with benefits (like mentoring, or money, etc) and some didn’t.

To be continued… 

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