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Startup Weekend Ottawa – Summary Series

Jun 11

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014 9:48 PM  RssIcon

 StartupWeekendOttawaLast weekend I participated in Startup Weekend Ottawa.  I’m doing a four part series on my experience.  I hope you enjoy it!

Last week I volunteered at Startup Weekend Ottawa and I had a FANTASTIC time.  I would like to share my experiences with you in a four part series.  This is turning out to be less of a “Review” as it is “Preps For Next Time.”  I hope you enjoy it as much as I had “preparing” for this blog series.


My Experience Volunteering


My Advice for Rookies\Noobs


What Do You Need To Participate?


You Going? GREAT! Now What?


Bonus – Closing Thoughts and Last Minute Tips

My Experience Volunteering

I heard about Startup Weekend Ottawa (SWO) on Twitter, I’m not exactly sure from who, but I caught it going over the wire.  The idea sounded interesting, help local entrepreneurs get a leg on their idea to see if it is feasible.  The last time, I wasn’t able to participate, work, family, stuff, LIFE just getting in the way.  This time around, it was looking like the same story. :< Ah snap!  But things re-aligned again, and that weekend freed itself up….but then I was worried about not having the dev-chops to contribute to a team.  Well, I reached out the one of the organizers (Paul Austin-Menear) and I asked about volunteering, he said sure!  Cool, I can participate and see if I’m up to the task of contributing the next time.  WOW!  What an incredible experience!  It was fantastic!  And all this while being surrounded by iPhones and Macs!  And if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know THAT’S hard for me to say that!  I hope you read on for my observations over the weekend, and come back later this week for my three other blogs I plan on writing.

There’s a lot to summarize, so I hope you don’t mind bullet lists?

  • it was very EXCITING, mostly young people
    • and for the older people, they acted younger!!!!!!!!  It was fantastic to see
  • I actually knew FOUR people, Peter Ritchie was another volunteer, Wahib, Pascal and Larry were participants
  • I had a goal going into it
    • I went in with the goal of seeing\understanding it's ok not have it have “it” perfect
    • what I came out with is understanding it's the idea and the team that REALLY matters
  • people left egos at the door
  • ~90% macs\iphones
    • but even MORE an eye opener was NO Visual Studio, no C#, no, no MVC, mostly PHP and Rails
    • There were 2.5 Windows Phones there (the ".5" is cause one participant was unable to make it Sunday)
  • UBER-duper-super-duper focus on getting things done!!!!!!!!!!!!
    • teams laser focused on “get'er'done!”
    • incredible to see teams focused like that
  • teams would commonly come together and then divide, separate to go do work, then all come back after some time to regroup, revector, get jazzed again, rinse'n'repeat all weekend long!
  • organizers were super jazzed, encouraging and honest!!!!!!!!
    • startled me at just how HONEST they are about certain aspects, but be honest, if you're putting in some sweat equity, do you want someone being polite and nice to you telling you what you want to hear, or being respectful and professionally honest to you (good and bad)
  • I was volunteering and I had the luxury of pulling for all teams!
    • On Sun, I was feeling a like when I played hockey, "Don't touch my goalie! or you'll get pummeled!" (why yes I did spent a lot of time in the penalty box), I felt very protective of my new friends and their ideas!!!!!!!!!
  • Ladies were well represented
    • I HATE that we live in a world where that matters :<
    • I had a GREAT talk with someone about this! Thank you!
    • I feel horrible cause if I say something\anything, I'm an a$$hole but if I don’t, I feel like a hypocrite
    • It SUCKS we live in a world where sex and orientation is considered more important than ideas, OS, languages, platforms, servers, databases, syntax, json objects, laptops, etc
      • PS I'll still debate the merits of WP over Android, Windows over Apple, but THOSE are the prejudices I want to argue passionatly, NOT anything else, NOTHING! (/rant soapbox="StepOff"/)
    • what I LOVE was I saw NONE of that this weekend, it was ALL about ideas and pitches!!!! I learned so much, thank you!
  • incredible to see the "serial-entrepreneur" and community support of past participants
    • LOTS of past participants showing up throughout the weekend, really cool to see
  • organizers are SUPER focused on helping participant succeed
    • I can't believe their passion and energy for helping direct, encourage participants....and sometimes.....even stepping back and letting stubborn people learn the hard way, cause those things are what work for certain personalities
    • the organizers are very mature people to have that kind of "parental" attitude to "sometimes you need to let them fail in order to let them succeed" attitude
  • things ran quite smoothly, but when things hit speed bumps...everyone just rolled with the punches
    • when you run your own small company, you're the jack of all trades and you really can’t follow the "that's not in my job description" mentality
    • well, neither did anyone this weekend! everyone followed the "Adapt, Improvise and Overcome" mentra
  • Socio-economic class structure? (ie snobs) No, definitively NO!
    • this is about getting to "the pitch" in front of the "sharks" not a popularity pissing contest
  • it was only on Sun afternoon when teams started using closed rooms to practice their pitches
    • the rooms were used for privacy, the open spaces were used to collaboration and airflow to stay alert
  • everything done has a purpose
    • if you're wondering why something is the way it is...chances are there's a very good reason for it
    • EVERYTHING being done, is to help you get to the next step! everything has a purpose, you might not get it, but there is a reason for their methods (madness :>)
  • I was partly expecting some marketing\sales pitches
    • holy crap, NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! that didn't happen!
    • I'm the biggest avoider of anything that remotely smells of sales\marketing
    • this weekend wasn't like that
    • don't get me wrong, there are sponsors and they get their time slice\face time\slide time
    • BUT this is one place where MEAT MATTERS!  there is very little patience by everyone for sales pitches
    • this is about building a business, not making one sale or making your quota
  • On Sun afternoon, one person stopped me and said "thank you, you're so helpful" that made my day, my weekend! To have someone, about to make their teams pitch, a bit stressed, a participant take 30sec to say thank you, to me, a nobody, it helped put a smile on my face!

I hope this gives you a good idea of WHY I enjoyed myself this past weekend.  I hope you come back tomorrow for my in this series, My Advice for Rookies\Noobs.  Until then, it's time to grab a coffee and get coding!



Startup Ottawa Weekend site

Startup Weekend Ottawa Twitter feed (@swottawa)

Startup Weekend Ottawa on Facebook

LinkedIn = Paul Austin-Menear

Marketing BreakThroughs Inc. =  6 Things Businesses Can Learn from Startup Weekend Ottawa

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