Startup Weekend: How To Turn Your Idea Into An Actual Business In 3 days

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By Kyle Miller

I will be honest with you. I started writing a full article about the steps I took to win two Startup Weekends. Then I deleted it all.

I realized the steps my two teams followed were the same and essentially, I would be repeating what others have accomplished. Startup weekend is a “three-day startup crash course” where attendees are immersed in an environment that is conducive to business development, growth, networking and collaboration. The event provides current or aspiring entrepreneurs (and other professionals) with an opportunity to take an idea from inception to launch (including pitching in front of actual judges). This summer, I had the opportunity to help some of the teams at a Startup Weekend in DC. The winners clearly followed the EXACT same process to achieve the same outcome. Surprised?

Now, guess what happened when I Googled “how to win a startup weekend”? You were right. They listed the same steps. Well, I decided not to reinvent the wheel.


Here are the top resources I found to help you win a Startup Weekend and validate your startup idea.

Winning Guides for Success:

How to Win a Startup Weekend: The Ultimate Guide

7 Tips to Help you Win Startup Weekend

Pitch like a Boss

During my first Startup Weekend, we practiced our pitch riding up and down the elevator. This simple yet essential routine will help you keep your pitch short and to the point which is a crucial element of any business presentation. Your focus should be centered on addressing/validating the problem, a viable solution, and how your idea brings value to the market. You should be able to recite this in your sleep before you make your pitch to the judges and venture capitalists (VCs) at the event or any pitch related competition.


Here are some resources you can use to craft your elevator pitch:

The Best Elevator Pitch

Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch


The Business Blueprint

The winning teams used the Business Model Canvas to keep track of everything. This will change and evolve throughout the weekend so don’t be afraid to pivot if you don’t think you can validate your concept by the end of the weekend. My team had to pivot and change our whole idea an hour into starting the competition and we still ended up winning second place. Our winning idea was an app called ShopShop (aka Google maps for the grocery store). The concept behind the app is that you would upload your grocery list into the app on your phone and it would create a path with the most effective route through the grocery store.   The team that won first place created an app for Toastmasters and was able secure both a contract and a couple of paying customers which ultimately led to their success in the competition.


 Here are some Business Model Canvas resources:

Business Model Canvas

Business Model Canvas Explained

BMC Case Study — Pokemon GO


Wrap Up

Startup weekend is a collaborative playground for entrepreneurs who have a potentially great business idea but lack the resources or structure to bring it to fruition. It is a great opportunity to not only build a potentially viable startup but to meet other like-minded individuals with the same entrepreneurial drive and passion as you do who are willing to help you in your journey. So, when you’re thinking to yourself: “Hey, I have this great business idea! It’s a service/app/website/product that does something amazing that everyone will want,” consider attending a startup weekend or a similar event where you can collaborate with others in safe, growth-oriented space. Furthermore, use these resources to help validate your idea. Remember this can be done with a team in one weekend. Find ways to get out and test your concept or idea quickly and DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL as most growth and breakthroughs in the business world are the result of some sort of failure. Do you have a business idea but don’t have the resources or direction you need to get it off the ground? Or are you lacking the right mentorship or guidance needed to gain some traction? Do you think these strategies and guides would be beneficial in helping you develop your idea? Let us know below.

If anybody is interested in participating in a startup weekend, there is one taking place on November 9-11 on George Mason University’s Fairfax Campus. Follow this link for tickets & details:

http://communities.techstars.com/usa/washington-dc/startup-weekend/12901


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