Over the last weekend I’ve attended Startup Weekend, an event that “builds communities, companies and projects“. A friend attended last year’s event and highly recommended it and so I decided to give it a try.
The weekend consists of three stages:
- The introductory stage, where ideas are tossed in the air and voted upon.
- The execution stage, where teams are built and work is done.
- The presentation stage, where a presentation is given to real-world investors and criticized.
My conception of the event was that the “execution” phase means software coding. That’s why I pitched an idea which, to my belief, could be prototyped in a weekend. Most of the other pitches were of products that were quite impossible to prototype over a weekend, especially since access was required to external sources.
I was excited at the opportunity of coding back-to-back with a bunch of highly-skilled people whom I never met before. These experiences allow the real qualities of people to surface, and finding one kindred entrepreneurial spirit in the crowd could be worth the whole event.
Unfortunately, my perception of the event was not shared by the mass. 25% of the attendees were marketing & business, and of the 50% developers, many were more interested in the business aspects. As it turned out, most teams created (crappy) business plans and powerpoints. The team I was working with, focusing on public transportation, discovered two hours into work that their exact idea had already been implemented. Undeterred, they decided to venture into the unsound realms of impractical fantasies.
There is a fundamental flaw in the way Startup Weekend Tel Aviv was executed: The tension between creating a real working product, and a business plan of a future was not mitigated. This caused fractures in some of the teams. Indeed, the winner of the event was the team that came with a premeditated idea: Movieoke, a concept that is not, in itself, new.
The only heart-warming part of the event was the Hebrew-Arab mix. I, for one, was surprised to find out that the ideas of the Arab attendants were much more sound and practical than most of the Hebrew ones.
Anyway, it is now my goal to put up an event that will be what Startup Weekend should of been. Details will be posted to this blog when relevant.