Organizing a Startup Weekend is AMAZING, you get to know new friends, help the community and the satisfaction of reaping the results of hard work for months. From my experience I can tell you one thing:
“Organizing a Startup Weekend is like having your own Startup”
- You need to raise money.
- You have to sell your product to users.
- You have to recruit a good organizing team, mentors and staff.
- You need to manage the brand, social media and finances.
- You need to do pretty much a lot of everything.
If organizing a Startup Weekend is like having a Startup, there should be a framework for creating one. So I present you The 7 Steps to create a successful Startup Weekend.
1.Ask For Advice. It’s posible that this isn’t the first Startup Weekend in your city, so that means that you can reach previous organizers for advice. The things you must ask in your first meeting are related to your local ecosystem. So ask for tips on local sponsors, strategies on how to get participants. If you want to help the community, ask them to give you access to the social media accounts so both benefit from the movement of one account.
As a new organizer you are now part of the global community, so you should also ask for advice to organizers around the world, using the organizers Facebook group is a good start.
2.Set Milestones. Once you know how things work, it’s time to set goals. All the work that your team is going to do will be in order to reach these milestones.
Good milestones to define early are:
- Amount of participants (No more than 125).
- Amount of International Coaches.
- Theme or Vertical.
3. Find a Venue. The venue is the first thing you need to get, it has to be big enough so you can accommodate the amount of participants defined on your milestones. You also need to remember that Startup Weekend is a 54 hours in a row event, so your venue should have showers, bathrooms and a space to do a final presentation with audience.
My recommendation is that the venue should be available for the 54 hours of the event, even if many participants go to their houses after the activities, most of the bonding happens in the night, also people that comes outside of the city can use the venue to rest a little.
4. Define the Timeline & Define the Date. It’s time to write everything in stone, once you make it public changing the date will make you lose credibility, so try to do it only on extreme situations. If this is your first Startup Weekend I would recommend to set the date around 4–6 months in advance so you can prepare. You can use this checklist in order to know what task you need to do http://organizer.startupweekend.org/
5. Start sales & marketing activities. Define a unique brand to your event, hashtags and start promoting it. Depending on the verticals and profile of your participants the activities would be different. The most common type include:
- Start a Early Bird Campaign.
- Go to High Schools and Colleges.
- Give Scholarships or Discounts.
- Be active in social media (Use tools like Buffer).
- Pay ads.
- Use influencers.
6. Get the necessities. Your goal as organizer is to give the participants all the resources that they need in order to solely focus in creating a Startup. That means you need to work hard getting sponsors in order to supply the basics. Primary focus on: Food, Drinks, Coffee, Coaches & internet.
7. Get some Swag. Once you cover the most important necessities, it’s time to rise the quality of the event.
NICE to have (Notice the emphasis on “nice”, so don’t worry if you can’t provide them) things for you event are:
- T-Shirts for participants, coaches & mentors.
- Trophies for the winners.
- Middle Night Snacks.
- Cookies for the Coffee.
- Stickers (StickerGiant is a partner that can give you amazing stickers).
- Banners & Backdrop.
As a final tip always save some money for unexpected expenses. And try to keep calm when the crisis arrives (They always come). The only way to fix this is having a amazing team that will help regards what happens if it’s imposible to solve it, learn how to fix it on your next event.
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Also published on Medium.