The Startup Weekend is an 54-hours weekend event during which several persons with different backgrounds form a team around an idea and defend it before a jury the Sunday evening. We have participated to the last one in Brussels on the weekend of the 21st Oct 2011: the Startup Weekend Brussels Second Edition (SWBRU). Before the weekend, we did attend to the Running Lean Workshop given by Ash Maurya. It was a great and very dense weekend during which we learned a lot and meet many kind and interesting people. I'll discuss what I've learned from SWBRU.
Without a team, you can't build anything. Even if we were already two, it was not enough. But team work is not easy, especially with people you never met before. Even if SWBRU is full of good spirit, each person has his goal, his way to work or collaborate without forgetting the unexpected such as a disease. We've lost two members the second day: one because of a disease, another because of an incompatibility of goals and way to work. We've finally ended with a good team for Just Delivered: Martin, me, Nicolas Overloop and Alexandre Reis. It was a great learning to work with people you don't know in a time window so short for an ambitious goal.
SWBRU is a competition. It's a fact. You can imagine that every participants adopt a competitive behavior, including not helping other competitor teams. It wasn't the case. People collaborate a lot, even if they didn't belong to the same team. I've talked with so many other participants about their project or mine. We have shared a lot, given feedbacks and opinions in order to improve our respective projects. It was probably one of the key point of the SWBRU spirit.
Having an idea is one thing, building a sustainable business from it is another thing entirely. The Business Model Canvas was our support to be creative and improve our business model (it was also a great use case for our Business Model Canvas online editor, bemco). From a home express delivery of Belgian beers, we've pivoted several times to a marketplace allowing people needing a goods home delivery to find people ready to do it. SWBRU is a great sandbox to learn how to build a business model and how to challenge it thanks to a customer development approach.
To be creative is not enough, you have also to present and defend your 54-hour project on stage before the jury in 5 minutes. This is not an easy practice. We had a good teamwork session to build a nice and sweet slide deck and to train Nicolas at pitching. Nicolas did a great job and we answered the investors' questions together. Just Delivered was selected as the Leanest Startup Winner. Great reward for all of us, and validations of our learnings.
SWBRU is mainly about learnings thanks to your commitment, other participants, and mentors. Moreover, mentors brought us constructive and tough feedbacks that pushed us to be better and learn more. We've met, notably, Ash Maurya, Ben Piquard, Tjorven Denorme, Bruno Wattenbergh, Bruno Delepierre, Sébastien Doyen, or Antoine Perdaens. The interaction with them helped us a lot. They brought us their experimented opinions: we had a way to progress.
The #SWBRU Cocktail = people + smile + creativity
We learned a lot. We met great people among other participants, mentors, organizers, volunteers and jury members. Smiles were one constant of the weekend. I've met people with smiling faces, very kind, open to discuss and listen to you, with sharp feedbacks and creative suggestions.
You don't become a very innovative person from day 1. You not build a very disruptive idea in less than 3 days. You need to work, to learn, to practice, to challenge you, to meet people, to open your mind. You need to experiment and experience! This is what SWBRU allows you to do. Nothing more, nothing less. Some fairy tales could happen, but it is definitively not an end, just a beginning...