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SWO5 – Bonus –Closing Thoughts and Last Minute Tips

Jun 16

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Monday, June 16, 2014 9:15 PM  RssIcon

StartupWeekendOttawaLast weekend I participated in Startup Weekend Ottawa.  I’ve done a four+bonus series.  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 + BONUS 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

Closing Thought and Last Minute Tips

Last weekend I volunteered at Startup Weekend Ottawa (SWO) and had a BLAST!  I did my four parts and realized I had a few trailing thoughts to pass along, so here they are, Observations and Tips’n’Tricks for the next time!

  • Closing thoughts and observations

    • there weren't any games being pitched, at all! just LOBs (Line Of Business apps)
      • there was one kids education idea pitched, that was the closest to a game, and it was a cool idea
    • there weren't any single mindedly focused mobile applications
      • meaning people weren't doing phone apps for the sake of doing mobile for mobile (ie mature attitudes)
      • teams were solving a problems, not creating solutions for no which they don't know of problems for their "pet projects"
    • Fri = lots of people skills stuff, could be a late night but most likely before midnight
    • Sat = both dev and biz development, meat of activity, all day long, some teams cut it short around 8, some 10, rest midnight-plus, up to you, go with the flow!
    • Sun = less dev, more bus, focus on presentation pitch in the afternoon, come 3pm devs basically stop and coast...unless of course you're so engrossed in your idea that you don't care to listen to anyone and you just continue pounding out code (good for you! LOL), that is until 5 when people are shuttled into the main room for pitches to begin
    • teams who created\developed great ideas, continued to develop them afterwards (good for you!)
    • I got this one from Peter Ritchie, don't focus on very nitty gritty, if you're debating the merits of varchar(max) vs varchar(250), trigger vs sprocs, int vs bool, or table vs div're too deep in the weeds, make a call, get it done enough to demo and move onto next item
    • be comfortable with people doing two things at once, ie listening to you and checking phone, scanning news briefing, table of stats, white board... the young crowd does this with so much ease it's almost unsettling, but don't let it phase you!
    • bring a sweater with you, just something to put on in case you get a chill (maybe the AC turns on over your head, you go out for some fresh air at night, or you need to catch 20m power nap)
    • bring a set of ear\headphones, if you need to get down and completely focus, you can plug in and tune everything else out while pound out something intense
    • don't get too bogged down in "business process," you still need to "get things done"
      • don't go MBA on your team and start dictating business workflows, although that stuff's important, remember that you have to pitch SOMETHING on Sun pm, slide deck, plans, finances, surveys, demo product, etc
    • some volunteers were rookies and some were vets
      • you can probably tell them apart, the vets are the calm, cool and collected looking ones:>
      • Geoff Longman was a great volunteer I met and followed his lead! he was doing all the "icky" jobs most people probably wouldn't do, but he was right in there doing the dirty work cause that's what the volunteers do to help keep the participants focused on doing what they do, pitching!
      • Peter Ritchie was a rookie volunteer, but he is a VERY experienced entrepreneur having run his own company FOR YEARS! He was quickly asked to be a Dev Mentor, kudos Peter, well deserved!
    • the organizers are serial entrepreneurs themselves!
      • after the weekend I poked around the web, and MAN, the constant continuous company's these entrepreneurs pump out...well, makes me wonder why I can't do ONE?!  They've got two, three, OR MORE of their ideas "out there!" AND they're organizing the weekend!
      • you can certainly start your journey off with one idea! :>
    • it's HARD to do a startup, this is a FANTASTIC way to get a leg on what's needed, types of personalities, mentalities, things to do, things NOT to do, if you're thinking of starting something, GREAT, this is the place to germinate that seed!
  • Tips'n'Tricks

    • to help break the ice, come up with two "cool" questions to ask someone to break the ice, let their response lead you down the next conversation path :)
      • "Is this your first time?" if yes, return with “Same here!”...or not, as well
      • "Did you see any of the videos from the last time?"
      • don't like mine, that's fine, I'm just trying to prime the pumps for you
      • come up with one or two yourself and post here
      • if some else uses it, you'll know they're really shy and could use the extra help!
    • know how to create these social connections like the back of your hand (learning how to do these things on Sat could chew up valuable time)
      • Twitter
      • [a blog site]
      • [facebook]
      • account on some survey system
      • account for mass email
    • don't judge a book by it's cover
      • I know, I know we SAY it but in reality, we can't help ourselves, but in this case, try EXTRA hard not to do it
      • I saw one large, wide shouldered guy, he pulled out a laptop to match his stature, and I was quite intimidated by this...but me being a geek, I said "nice Alienware laptop" and MAN, you should have seen him light up and start talking, Simeon is SUPER approachable, and personable guy! Thanks for breaking the ice!
    • if you're pitching an idea Fri...have a catchy name ready to go before you pitch! Make it catchie, memorable, short, well do your best, doing a pitch and then coming up with a catch-phrase title on the spot is kind of hit-or-miss for success
      • the best ideas come from parts of your life you know the best about!  You are the subject matter expert (SME) of that area, you know the most, use that to your advantage (from #SWO5 mentor Greg O'Donnell)
      • this is different from picking\joining a team, you can contribute if you have tangential life experiences (TLE) (yes, I made that up LOL)
    • for most of the weekend, bus people need to focus on the bus and ultimately the pitch
      • but during the pitch, you need to focus on your stuff of course, but also your personal "likeability"
        • don’t read or come across like you're reading a script
        • make it come from the heart
        • if you're nervous, memorize your opening line, you'll get that much of a grace period, then it has to come "from you" not a piece of paper
        • you got nothing to lose, GO FOR IT!
        • the sharks are looking for ways to say NO to you, if you know that, concentrate on giving them reasons to say YES to you instead!
    • before you  go, update or create your LinkedIn account and a twitter account, Facebook, what ever else social media site is the flavour of da-day
      • add a useful photo to help people identify you when sorting through like-named people
      • add as much data as you're comfortable putting online (yes, this is my disclaimer)
      • don't use LinkedIn like Facebook and visa versa.
    • after the weekend
      • stay on top of your twitter account and specifically watch out for people RT your tweets about the weekend, some people might be shy to contact you, so why don't you follow them and they will most likely in turn follow you
      • Likewise on LinkedIn

Now you have the inside track for advice on your next Startup Weekend Ottawa.  If you’re there, keep an eye out for me, and if you see me, please say hi and let me know if this was helpful.  Until then, it’s time to grab a coffee and get coding!



LinkedIn: Peter Ritchie

LinkedIn Geoff LongmanLinkedIn Geoff Longman

LinkedIn: Tanya Snook

LinkedIn: Robert Venczel

LinkedIn: Greg O’Donnell 

UX Camp Ottawa

Sam Chen on YouTube

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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