Startup Weekend report from Wellington

TeamworkPM became involved in Startup Weekends to give us a chance to become familiar with the vibrant tech community that exists in New Zealand since we recently set up an office there.

Meeting people who are on the cusp of creating new business ventures is not only inspiring but it is also a great platform for TeamworkPM to get involved in an exciting initiative. One of the most amazing things about the tech startup community is the willingness of people to share their experiences and expertise and pass on what they have learned in business.

People within this group want to see other companies start up and succeed. There is a great buzz around Startup events and getting the chance to be part of the excitement is a real privilege for us at TeamworkPM.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Startup Weekends around the world, the weekend begins with participants pitching their business ideas to an audience on opening night. These ideas are voted on, with teams forming around what are deemed the best ideas on the night. The focus for the rest of the weekend is on creating a viable proposition, including a product prototype by Sunday evening. A panel of judges then has to review the final pitch from each team and award prizes.

This months NZ startup event took place in Wellington, and it was the first Social Enterprise-themed event outside of Silicon Valley.  Social Enterprise as an organization has a purpose weighted towards social or environmental impacts, but these can’t be primarily dependent on grants or donations.

To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this theme. When you think about it, it is a tough ask, not only to create a viable business but also to have the social enterprise side to the business as well. By the end of the weekend there were twelve amazing business ideas and the standard was set at an incredibly high level.

The team that came out on top were Stampede with a business around promoting challenges for a low-carbon future

Emily Sutton, from the winning team Stampede, said the weekend exceeded her expectations.

“Obviously we were all so excited to win the competition, but particularly since there was such a high quality throughout all the teams, and the level of the final presentations simply blew me away. I was proud of what our team was able to achieve, but more importantly we’re all committed to take our plans to the next level! We’ve started a Stampede!” she said.

For me, one of the stand out moments was from a group just before their first pitch run through. They were the last group in just before 1am on Saturday. They had hit rock bottom and their validation for the initial idea had fallen through. They had no pitch, they felt like they were right back at square one and they were on the brink of dropping out and tears were shed.They were shattered and mentally drained. They left that night saying they needed to sleep on it.

And that they did. When I saw them early on Sunday morning, the group had managed  to pull everything back and in the end they had one of the best pitches of the morning session. To me it summed up what the whole Startup Weekend is about, getting the absolute best out of people and seeing complete strangers rally together in a really intensive environment. It was inspiring to see.

Startup Weekend facilitator Dave Moskovitz said the Social Enterprise theme brought a unique combination of business rigour to socially-minded ventures.

“I want all businesses to have a positive social impact, but there is just as much importance to see social ventures display a smart, sustainable business model to ensure they can build and grow on the good work they are doing.”

The next Startup Weekend that we are attending is in Tauranga on Sept 6th to the 8th

For more photos from the event please check out Mark Tantrum site or Sam’s photo stream.

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