The Value of Startup Weekends

Couldn’t make this past weekend’s Start-Up Weekend at Sage? Here’s a bird’s eye view of the value of these opportunities for entrepreneurs from Innovate 518’s EIR, Bob Manasier.

Day 1: Open Pitches

The kick-off to the 54-hour event began with open pitches.

One key takeaway from this session is the need for entrepreneurs to have public speaking experience. A critical skill that should be a part of every entrepreneur’s portfolio, there are classes and improve-style training sessions available locally to help gain confidence talking in front of crowds. Speaking clearly with a smile and good energy covers many mistakes.

At this year’s event, there was a strong focus on hardware coupled with software companies. Food establishments, especially mobile food businesses, continue to be a mainstay, mirroring a mobile franchising rise in the economy.  Additional focus on security and cybersecurity remained another steady trend. Real products being pitched now more than ever!

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Day 2: There’s No “i” in Team

The second day of these weekends are typically the most stressful for participants. The dynamics shift as teams change members, ideas and businesses while trying to agree on a new direction. Great team dynamics are integral here. True leaders display no ego while others get lost in an idea load under the stress of the deadline.

One thing is also clear: Change is difficult. Ideas that have no chance of progress or completion are kept even when 10 coach mentors, opposing teams and your own cohort can't see a way to succeed or to make the idea work in the real world.  Building a culture of no fail and true open dialogue was demonstrated in certain teams of strangers.

The importance of teambuilding is clearly evident, as groups broke bread together and worked through problems in a different setting than the workplace.

Day 3: Collaboration is Key

The key to success is always collaboration and the successful integration of teams. Our region is lucky to have so many universities, colleges, and entrepreneurial resources within our grasp. When we all come together, great results follow.

The weekend showed us how strangers from area schools can come together to create an idea and execute to a presentation in three days. Showing up and getting the job done were seen in some while others succumbed to stress, poor management, bad team dynamics and poor leadership. Execution is the hardest part, but the only way to succeed: bring an idea, focus and a true team together and it can be done especially with all the support that the Capital Region has to offer.

And the Winners are…..

The winners of Startup Weekend 6 are French Toastary, a mobile food business, a collaboration of RPI, Clarkson and Sage students, and runner-up Aspect: Vanguard, a crowdsourced security solution, a collaboration of students from RPI and Sage.

A Startup Weekend “alum” made a special appearance to share his experience. A former 3rd place winner, everyone pushed him to go into banking. He credits Startup Weekend with giving him the courage to follow his dream to be in the airline business and reports that he is now in the Delta Airline Management Program.

Kudos to the judging panel: Kristen Hislop, Lou Cirelli and Jean Dahlgren, as well as the prize packages from Sage's incubator INVEST, InFocus Brands and IgniteU NY.

Whether you need feedback on an idea, a co-founder, a specific skill sets, or a team to help you execute your concept, don’t miss the next opportunity to participate in Startup Weekend. They provide the perfect environment to test your idea and take the first steps towards launching your own startup.

And lean on Innovate 518 who aligns its affiliated partner resources to drive economic development, workforce development, innovation and opportunity.