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Start up weekend Kapiti

Start Up

TTC’s Brendan Lester recently attended Startup Weekend Kapiti as part of Techweek 2019. Expanding his professional development outside of QA, Brendan's goal was to better encompass the full scope of business challenges start up organizations face. One challenge we see in QA is a lack of understanding of the the business problems, so weekends like this help our consultant's to up-skill to be well rounded in all aspects of business.

Here's Brendan's account of the weekend.

I did something a wee bit different two weekends ago. Along with around 42 other participants and half as many mentors and crew again, I hustled through ‘Startup Weekend Kapiti’ as part of Techweek 2019.

During the same weekend, around 12 other locations around the world also ran the same event, with Indonesia being the closest to NZ.

The weekend began at 5.30pm on Friday with a fantastic meal supplied from a local food truck. Networking was off to a rapid start while energy levels were still fresh and high. Following dinner, we listened to what was going to be happening over the next 54 hours and did some getting to know each other exercises along with other activities to form a safe, low-risk environment.

Then the real work started. 16 participants ran through their 1-minute pitches for the start-up idea they wanted to work on. Following that, a quick voting round occurred and somehow, as if by magic, teams had come together around 7 of the ideas:

- Student support pop-up
- Food supplier waste reduction through end of day promotional activity
- Multi-sensory environment for kids with needs
- Landfill reduction through clean burning
- Wedding planning tool sets for couples and suppliers
- Facebook escrow facility for fraud reduction
- Memory box for recording lifetime stories

I joined the wedding planning team along with four fantastic and energetic ladies.

After some more group mentoring, we were then straight into the creation of our team’s LEAN 1-Page Business Plan or Startup Canvas. Work continued on this and other content through to midnight on Friday. We also started on our two validation surveys for market feedback – one for wedding suppliers and one for happy couples planning their event.

8am Saturday: eggs, spaghetti and double-bacon (an extra order had accidentally been placed for the entire event). We finalised our two digital surveys, posted to social-media and began receiving feedback. Shelly and I also hit the local street market and began talking to people. We spoke with Tyler, who is getting married in 4 months, and obtained some valuable feedback.

Back to the incubator, a quick lunch, more bacon, then defining functional items placed into Client, Supplier, Admin, System and of course, Non-Functional groups. Culminating in our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) definition! We had also received close to 40 survey responses to help shape our activity.

First pitch practice of four. #TrainSmash, #GoodLearnings! Positive challenge and we were up for it (with coffee!). One speaker, establish a story and don’t kill the story’s participants. 3hrs later, #remarkableImprovement.

We did two other 1-minute updates to the larger group throughout the afternoon and evening.

9:30pm – Houston, we have a problem. How do we get clients on-board without suppliers and vice-versa? The typical two-sided marketplace problem. Answer: pre-populate the suppliers from publicly available internet information. This provides the initial content for clients. Once suppliers see the value of this, they can claim their business and look to paid conversion for additional functionality #MentorsAreAwesome.

Work continues through to 11:45pm. I carried on at home until 2:30am on the mock-site, MVP. Brained switched off sometime after 4am to let me sleep until 7am.

8am, new food truck, waffles, more bacon, then straight back into it. Several interesting phone calls to potential supplier clients and some initially disconcerting negative responses. Then some good bites. #BigFishNo, #SmallFishFantastic.

Pitch practice, refine, group updates, MVP, start-up costs, revenue, expenses, business model, slide deck, repeat. Where did that 3hrs go?

5pm pens down, ladies glam-up, beers, food truck fish and chips, say hi to the Mayor, then pitching to the panel from 7pm. ~100 people in the council chambers. Goes fantastically. #5MinuteWonderJaimee, #GoodQ&A.

Judging came down to the three core items for any start up, that we had learned throughout the weekend: Validation, Execution & Design, Business Model.

We didn’t win nor place. Hard to beat environment and social consciousness these days and a great idea too with the landfill reduction. But we won by forming a fantastic team, hustling, supporting each other, learning plenty of new skills and having a great new story in our lives.

I highly recommend you grab any opportunity that comes along to do something like this. You don’t need any background or skill set whatsoever and you too will spend several days coming down from the high!

Special thanks to all the Startup Weekend Kapiti Crew, mentors and the various supporter companies.

And thanks to the team: Georgia, Fiona, Jaimee & Shelly.