Looking for Help? Attend a Startup Weekend

rsz_computerwithphone by Tim Parker on November 27, 2012
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Have you heard about the Startup Weekend events going on around the world? There’s probably one coming to a city near you.

If you’re an entrepreneur, a Startup Weekend event may be just what you need to validate your ideas, refine your business plan, and launch your company.

What Is It?

Startup Weekend is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that sponsors 52-hour events where people get together to produce and hone ideas. One of those ideas could be your idea.

Consider this: What if you could get experienced people from multiple industries together in one room to listen to your idea? Think of the innovation that could take place if you had an experienced IT person developing your website, a marketing professional crafting your ad campaign, and a product development guru refining your new product. That’s what you get at a Startup Weekend.

How Does It Work?

Startup Weekends typically cost between $75 and $150 (less for students), which pays for meals, snacks, and access to sponsor resources. Friday is open-mic night; those who wish to pitch their ideas get 60 seconds to do so.

Attendees vote on the top ideas, and those ideas are developed over the course of the weekend. You can’t pitch an existing business, but you can attend to be part of a team that develops another idea. This is where the networking and learning take place — and that’s beneficial to all entrepreneurs.

Through networking with others, teams form to develop the selected ideas. The teams work all day Saturday and a half day Sunday refining the ideas, and then pitch their ideas to judges at the conclusion of the weekend who select a winning team. Prizes vary by location but may include free membership in professional organizations, consultation with marketing agencies, participation in a startup incubator, or other rewards from local sponsors.

What If My Idea Isn’t Selected?

Startup Weekends are designed to be networking and educational events, and you’ll benefit even if your idea isn’t selected. According to statistics, 55 percent of the participants continue working on their ideas after the event is over.

During a Startup Weekend event, you work with experts in various fields, learning from their experience and taking what you learned back to your existing or future business. Professional relationships are formed.

Should I Attend?

Startup Weekend is the largest, best-organized event of its kind. Various cities and regions also sponsor similar events of their own. Successful business leaders everywhere are constantly learning and evolving. They know that meeting others and leveraging their skills and knowledge are key to growing their businesses. Startup Weekend is a great way to do that.

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Tim Parker is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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