Ideas are everywhere. There are so many people out there that have an idea for a new tech company or a new product. At the same time there are a lot of people out there that don’t have ideas (or at least nothing that is worth pursuing) but they have skills and experience that those with ideas need. The true issue is connecting those with ideas to those with the skills.
Grand Rapids will be hosting its 4th annual Startup Weekend beginning this Friday. Startup is a 54 hour marathon of development of ideas in which teams of local CEOs, designers, lawyers and other professionals come together with local entrepreneurs to go from a pitch competition where ideas are selected to as market ready as humanly possible by the end of the weekend.
Events like Startup Weekend accomplish a number of tasks that often bog down entrepreneurs. First the most obvious is the development time. Many entrepreneurs spend too much time trying to perfect their idea and refining and reworking things and not just getting it out there. Market feedback should determine the course of your development so it shouldn’t matter if you spend 54 hours or 54 weeks developing your idea. In the end what the market wants will shape your idea so why not get it out there sooner rather than later.
Another aspect that events like Startup Weekend create is connections. You are immediately put on a team that you have to rely on for the competition aspect of the weekend. You need these individuals to cover their duties to have any chance at success. Basically it’s like a 54-hour test run for your business. Maybe you don’t work well together but maybe there is a spark of something bigger. Even more, you are exposed to hundreds of other potential connections that are on other teams, are advising or that are just there to observe. These are people who know other people that might not only have interest in your idea but that can get you visibility in the market place.
While the idea of a Startup Weekend might sound like a cute competition where there is a big push for 54 hours and that is it for that idea. Startup Weekend’s have actually been a launching board for businesses. Interaction Works was founded at a previous Startup Weekend and a Startup Weekend in Kalamazoo actually launched 5 new companies. These are actually viable West Michigan startup companies that were born at this “cute competition” for entrepreneurs.
Obviously any businesses that come from this weekend’s event will have a lot of work after Sunday. But the base that is developed will go a long way. Contracts (including agreements between the company owners), potential liability issues, business plans, and more will still need to be developed along with some likely further development of the idea. Startup Weekend is essentially like a head start for your Grand Rapids startup though and what entrepreneur wouldn’t like to see their company get a head start.
Source: “Entrepreneurs gather in Grand Rapids for 54 hours of company building at Startup Weekend” by Gerret Ellison of MLive.com
“Startup Weekend in Kalamazoo results in five new companies, prospering new tech culture” by Kalamazoo Gazette Staff of MLive.com