I arrived at London Startup Weekend Friday evening, not really sure what to expect. As I exited the lift at Google Campus the room was already buzzing with people hoping beer would settle their pre-pitch nerves. Coloured t-shirts helped with introductions and initial conversations - business person (red), developer (blue) designer (green).
Following introductions from the startup weekend team the pitches begin. Everyone is given 1 minute to explain their idea.
Given the number of pitches (well over 50) the timing is strict however support, cheers, laughing and general atmosphere ensure the mood remains extremely fun and relaxed. Once everyone has pitched, ideas are voted on and groups are formed around the top 10 ideas.
What follows the next day is, for a first timer, an amazing experience. Ideas start forming and teams work with designers on everything from logo and website design, to motion graphics and video.
Teams head out to events, festivals and on to the streets to question members of the public and test the feasibility of their ideas. Developers start churning out code at a phenomenal rate, building backend databases, fully functioning e-commerce sites and iPhone apps.
On Sunday ideas are honed, business plans discussed, practise presentations given (and timed) and all teams receive mentoring throughout the day. Around 5pm final presentations begin followed by Q&A with the judges.
The variety of people from such diverse backgrounds helped ensure the event was a great success. I met a corporate lawyer from Slaughter & May, Microsoft BING search engine developer, TfL strategy consultant, Credit Suisse application developer and a host of freelance designers, to name a few.
If you're considering attending a future event and are thinking about your pitch, here are few tips below. While spontaneity is good and it shouldn't sound overly rehearsed, it is worth being a little prepared:
- Try to make yourself or your idea stand out/be remembered in some way
- Think about the kinds of people and skills you want to attract and why
- You have exactly 1 minute, so ensure you get the important points across in that time
- The more amusing the better
- Last but definitely not least, if you're not sure about whether to pitch or not, do it. I guarantee you'll regret it later if you don't.
While I didn't expect to be in the winning team the taking part was, genuinely, just as rewarding. Huge thanks to the Startup Weekend team for a fantastic weekend and look out for The Umbrella People, coming to a place near you soon!