Friday Pitch Night at Startup Weekend

friday pitch night
PC: korendezvous.

StartUp Weekend

“What is it?”

That was the first question Roger Osorio, the facilitator of StartUp Weekend around the globe, asked first-time goers. As per my understanding, it’s a weekend (obviously) event where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas and turn it into reality by Sunday night. Here’s what startupweekend.org says about it: “In just 54 hours, you will experience the highs, lows, fun, and pressure that make up life at a startup. As you learn how to create a real company, you’ll meet the very best mentors, investors, cofounders, and sponsors who are ready to help you get started.”

Here’s the highlight reel from the YouTube channel by korendezvous!

Essentially, you’ll be in an environment that fosters growth, creativity, and intense work ethic. An environment that encourages failures and mistakes as Roger has implied when he says to shoot for F’s throughout the weekend. An environment that recognizes and understands that the startup life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.

It recognizes that sometimes it sucks. And it sucks  A LOT. But I digress.

Pre-Startup Weekend

Let’s backtrack a little bit and let me share how I came across the event. For the sake of being honest, I had a brain fart and wasn’t sure if “startup” was one word or two words. So, I typed it into google and lo and behold! Startup Weekend was the second listed and I checked it out. I showed it to Koren and we both were very stoked about it. We figured it would be an awesome event to cover for Breaking Boundaries.

For those of you who might not know, our current project is to connect with local New Jersey and New York Startups. We’d like to get to know them and share their unique experiences and perspectives with you. Our goal is for you to be able to relate and resonate with someone and fully realize and believe that success is also possible for you.

So, we got in contact with Roger to make sure we’d be able to take pictures and videos of the event. Thankfully, we got the green light and we were good to go! (Thanks Roger! And for a quick clip of his speech, check out the video above!)

friday pitch night
Roger, Koren, and I.

Friday Pitch Night

friday pitch night
PC: korendezvous.

The theme for that week’s Startup Weekend was Fashion Tech. I’m not into fashion, but I was open to networking with entrepreneurs in the fashion industry. And I’m glad I did! We met extremely cool and smart people. People who were eager to solve problems and provide value through their products or services.

Unfortunately, we were only able to attend Friday pitch night because  we had previous engagements for the rest of the weekend. In a nutshell, Friday pitch night is where people get a chance to pitch their ideas in 60 seconds or less. It’s rapid fire pitching, which makes it even more exciting. It ensures that you have established the heart of your idea and that you are able to communicate it to a crowd.

Team Building
Friday pitch night
PC: korendezvous.

After the pitches, the “pitchers” posted their papers with their company names on the wall. The crowd each received 3 post-its and got to choose their top 3 favorites. Then, the organizers tallied up all the votes. The top 12 (or possibly 13?) with the most votes made it through as final pitches for the weekend. One by one, the winners got to go up one more time to give a quick spiel of their idea.

After that, everyone got to network outside again while the winners built teams to work with throughout the weekend.

Saturday and Sunday

We weren’t there for the rest of the weekend, so we can’t talk about what transpired. I’m sure it was really intense. From what I’ve gathered while we were there on Friday, Saturday is where the brunt of the work is done. Teams get to work with mentors and adjust their business models as needed. Sunday was dedicated mostly for presenting the final product.

The Takeaways

As expected, we left with a few lessons from the experience.

Be able to clearly articulate your idea. There were “pitchers” there whose ideas might not have been that good, but the way they spoke about it made you believe they were going somewhere with it. Sometimes people may want to join your team because of the confidence you have in your idea in addition to the idea itself. If you can make people believe you’re the type of person who can get it done, it becomes a lot easier to build a winning team.

Be creative. There was one guy who did a quick skit for his pitch. Out of 20+ pitches, he was the only one who did it. Needless to say, he got one of the most votes.

Take a risk. The pitches were open to everyone. Some of the people we spoke with beforehand said they’d pitch but depending on what people ahead of them were pitching. Two of the participants we spoke with ended up impromptu pitching and one of them actually made it to the Top 12. 🙂

Know how to work the floor. When it came time to build a team, it was very apparent who had the ability to attract people to be a part of their team. One of the things we observed was knowing exactly what you needed made it easier to zero in on who can help you out.

These are just a few of the lessons we’ve learned. I’m sure there would have been more insights had we stayed the whole weekend. It was definitely a great experience and we’re looking to partake and volunteer in the next few events. Who knows? Maybe we’ll find a Boundary Breaker. 😉 Even better, maybe we’ll enter the competition just to get fully immersed in the experience!

How about you guys? Any events you’d like to share? Please comment below and subscribe to this blog for more updates and takeaways on event experiences.

Next up: Midnight Market with food industry entrepreneurs.

PS: For those interested in what we used to record the event for clear sounds and where we store all of our videos, check these out:

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