Four Personal Lessons From Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend is a worldwide event where both budding and experienced entrepreneurs come together to work on unique and innovative business ideas, and PocketSmith jumped at the chance to support Dunedin’s own celebration. Hear what wisdom the team gained from 54 hours spent with brave makers and problem-solvers.

Anyone has the potential to be a startup founder

I’m no stranger to startups; I’ve worked at a couple and a few of my clever friends have founded their own. Despite that, I’ve never considered myself to be made of “startup material”. I think there’s a glamorized version of startup founders that most people conjure up when they think of entrepreneurs. Shrewd, gregarious, and hungry for commercial success.

What I saw at Startup Weekend was a bunch of everyday people who just wanted to give it a go. No egos, no selfishness — only a willingness to collaborate and learn. And what really resonated with me was the emphasis on the value you add to a team, no matter who you are. You might not have that burning drive to conquer the world, but you could have a knack for talking to strangers, an eye for design, or even a network of expertise to call upon.

It was really refreshing, and I absolutely admired the courage of everyone who participated to put themselves out there and create something from nothing. Am I tempted to give it a crack next year now? You betcha.

Chloe Adams, Content Marketing Specialist

Startup Weekend is where courage is shown and makers are made

It’s such a privilege to be there for so many firsts.

The first time a personal idea is presented to a crowd of strangers; the first time strangers get together to form a team; the first pivot; the first breakthrough; the first pitch.

Each one of these is a feat of courage, which is incredible given how many times these founders are pushed out of their comfort zones over the course of just 54 hours.

Through it all, there was a consistent demonstration of curiosity, kindness, and empathy towards each other. I was so inspired! If this is just the start of a journey, I think we’re going to see some wonderful companies take flight in the near future.

Jason Leong, co-founder and CEO

Pure celebration! Tibou of Uniform Guru couldn't help but sweep mentor Jason up in a hug when they were announced as winners.

Extrovert friends, listen to the introverts around you

As an extrovert, I loved the energy of opening night. Icebreakers, team games, one-minute pitches; everything was brimming with possibility. What extraordinary business ideas would come alive over the next 54 hours?

Before everyone formed into teams, a reminder flashed across the screen: “Introverts are some of the most effective team members.” This statement was validated over and over again at Startup Weekend.

Sure, you’d find the extroverts making pitches and getting right into public speaking and networking. But it was powerful witnessing the introverts listening intently, asking insightful questions, and creatively framing the problem to be solved as ideas evolved and value propositions morphed.

I came away with a profound clarity of how important it is to actively seek out diversity: of backgrounds, personalities, skills, and perspectives. Together, we really are greater than the sum of our parts.

Dora Yip, Head of Marketing

Validate, validate, validate!

When you have a great business idea, it’s always tempting to rush in and start working on it without taking a step back and asking yourself — what is the actual problem I’m trying to solve, and does my proposed solution address that problem well?

Startup Weekend drills this into the creators that attend, and for good reason. You want to know if your business idea has legs before spending the time and effort only to find out the hard way later.

While this can be frustrating, especially for those that really want to jump in and build right away, it’s extremely important to understand your problem and your customer well first.

Always. Be. Validating!

Regan McEntyre, Lead Software Engineer

Co-founder Jason and Lead Software Engineer Regan, two of this year's mentors, giving up their own time to provide guidance to all of the participants. They truly embody our company values!

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