Startup Weekend is a global movement that holds local events to promote entrepreneurship and to teach, help, and empower entrepreneurs all around the world. Startup Weekend brings together software developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch web and mobile startups. — All over the course of 54 hours! It is an intense experience focused on action, not talk. Startup Weekend provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to learn what it takes to launch a company, expand their network, and learn new skills while receiving great feedback from experienced entrepreneurs. I attended my first Startup Weekend in Columbus, OH during the spring of 2013 and I was not only hooked, but I also experienced some highly empowering side effects. I warn you. If you decide to attend Startup Weekend, you will most likely experience the following side effects.
- You will be inspired: There is nothing like creating a business out of an idea in one weekend. This is what you experience firsthand during Startup Weekend. Afterwards, you will start taking ideas more seriously, and more importantly, you will begin to take action more often and follow through on your ideas. Startup Weekend helped me see that the most important step to reach your dreams is the next step you take. Dreams, as well as ideas, are abundant, but they are nothing without taking that next step. After my first Startup Weekend, I was inspired to take action, I finished school and instead of following a normal career in engineering I decided to follow my dreams taking one step at a time. I’m still a noob when it comes down to dream building but I have already begun to move forward by repeatedly taking that next step everyday.
- You might have a life crisis: Yes that’s right. If you have been doubting your 9 to 5 job, or you have been stuck in the same cubicle doing busy work for years, Startup Weekend might make you go through a midlife or quarter life crisis. During the course of 54 hours you will meet and work alongside some of the most creative, bold, and unique individuals. Many of them have built their own careers and made their own path to success. That’s cool, but what is even cooler is hearing about how much they love what they do. Even if they are going through tough times, you will see and feel their energy, their passion, and their love for what they do. If you aren’t satisfied with where you are right now, this might push you towards a life crisis. But don’t worry; sometimes that is exactly what we need in order to wake up from a life of dissatisfaction.
- You might quit your job: It’s happened before. More than once. The combination of having a career crisis, a life changing experience, and being inspired beyond measure might lead you to quit your job. If that’s the case, then DO IT! Call your boss and quit right now! Just kidding, hopefully you continued reading before making that call…. I recommend that you don’t make any irrational decisions over the weekend. Take a week and really think it though. Talk to entrepreneurs and startup founders, and get their opinions. However, if you feel so strong about it, this may be a sign that your current job is not right for you. Want to read about a guy who quit his job after Startup Weekend? go here.
- You will make great friends: Startup Weekend is all about sharing your dreams and ideas and working hard with others to accomplish something great. There is something special about allowing yourself to think big and to openly recognize your dreams in front of others. It creates a level of susceptibility that helps people develop stronger friendships. I know this from personal experience. I still keep in touch with most of the people I met during my first Startup Weekend. I want to encourage you to speak up and share your dreams, ideas, and visions with others. There is no stupid idea. Don’t believe me? Think about Silly Bandz and imagine the founders pitching their idea to others.
- You will be exposed to great mentors: The entrepreneurial road is not easy. There are tons of ups and downs and millions of variables to consider when making decisions. The learning curve is tough but the best way to get through it is with great mentors. During Startup Weekend you will be bombarded with knowledge from mentors. There is so much advice going around that some call this “mentor whiplash”. Throughout the weekend you will hear great advice that will help you years down the road. However, the real benefit is that you can start building relationships with people that are currently one step ahead of you in the entrepreneurial path. They have been working to accomplish their dreams and they have committed many mistakes along the way. This is your chance to learn from their mistakes and to start building a relationship with them so that they can continue to guide you even outside of startup weekend.
- No other weekend will ever be the same: The amount of work you accomplish during startup weekend is unbelievable. Ideally, during the course of the weekend, you will go from an idea to a prototype, racing through all the stages of developing a new company. Knowing how much can be accomplished during a weekend will most certainly impact your future weekends. Just to put it in perspective, there are 52 weekends in a year. That equals to 104 weekend days in a year. How much can you accomplish in 100 days? The empire state was built in 100 days. I think. Maybe not. The point is that by using your time more wisely during the weekends you can start to build something great and move closer to reaching your dreams.
This year I’m taking my Startup Weekend one step further by working as an organizer for Startup Weekend Houston on the weekend of Nov. 15th.
Don’t the side affects scare you away. Join a Startup Weekend near you and experience it for yourself!