Last Friday, the 4th of November I attended Startup Weekend Melbourne (Hosted at York Butter Factory). The day before we had just pushed Barkles live to the public. Now why would any entrepreneur go to an intensive 54 hour weekend event the day after launching his own startup? Well, since you asked:
I have a passion with the entrepreneurial world. Anyone who can create something from a random idea, get others involved and inspire them to build a business is nothing short of amazing. It is that passion that inspires my mind to keep creating and building everyday. If I have the chance to be around 100+ people doing the exact same thing, I'm going to jump all over it. Startup Weekend brings out the best in entrepreneurs. It forces them to look at their strengths, challenge their weaknesses and work as part of a team. When stress, anxiety, deadlines and pitching plagues the mind, it demands a certain level of focus, something that many of the entrepreneurs were facing for the first time.
To be around other experienced entrepreneurs in that time of need is essential. On the other side they need to be able to see that there is a force of people who want to change things for the better. Who want to challenge the status-quo. Who continually ask why and why not.
A month before Startup Weekend I made a commitment to Tyson Lundbech (a good friend and one of the organisers) that I would be attending. I had no idea Barkles would be launched the day before (or that it would be even be ready by then!). When the time came, we launched Barkles - then it hit me. That whole weekend I would be out of action for most of the day and night. Even so, I wanted to stick to my commitment because I truly believed in the experience that Startup Weekend would bring.
I also knew I could trust Jay Whiting (Barkles Co-Founder and Developer) to hold the fort while I was away. It was a big responsibility, and in hindsight was a brilliant decision. We had very few issues over that weekend, yet we had a lot of activity and an overall great response to the lanch.
The Melbourne Entrepreneur scene is literally growing before my eyes. There are hubs popping up all around, multiple incubators being launched and many more startups are being built every day. Startup Weekend brings all of those together - A hub of activity over the weekend, 100+ entrepreneurs working together in smaller teams, $5000 winning pitch prize and an opportunity to travel to the JFDI–Innov8 2012 Bootcamp in Singapore including $15,000 SGD in seed funding. Startup Weekend truly is an incredible experience that you should do at least once if you are passionate about entrepreneurship.
In addition, the mentors, organisers, judges and other workers in the space bring a great level of experience to the table. If I were to give one piece of advice to any entrepreneur it would be "Be seen and heard, constantly". This doesn't mean you should bug everyone you can while they are eating lunch - it's more about paying attention to the advice they choose to share. Ask all the questions you need answered and get to know them. If you meet some amazing people at these events, get their details and arrange a time (yes, on the spot) to catch up in the future for a casual chat. It's these moments when you are in the same environment that will be the easiest to connect, just by pure proximity and similar interests.
The next time Startup Weekend rolls around I strongly recommend you get on the list. It will be an experience like no other, where you will understand a lot about yourself in a quick timeframe. You will meet many other inspiring people, and the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
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