I am honored to be invited to act as a Mentor for Kansas City Startup Weekend!
What is Startup Weekend?
Kansas City Startup Weekend takes place March 23 – 25, 2018 and is FREE to participate.
In just 54 hours, you will experience the highs, lows, fun, and pressure that make up life at a startup. As you learn how to create a real company, you’ll meet the very best mentors, investors, cofounders, and sponsors who are ready to help you get started. Your community is here to help you.
Startup Weekend is a great way to get input on your startup business idea or app – but remember, this is a business competition.
If you have a business idea, come to Kansas City Startup Weekend and get others excited to help you flesh out the idea. Even if you don’t have a business idea to pitch, you can participate in Startup Weekend by bringing your expertise and supporting another idea by joining their team and helping build the foundation of their business idea.
» If you’re on Facebook, mark yourself “Going”
Mentoring at Kansas City Startup Weekend
I am super-excited to be a Mentor for Kansas City Startup Weekend… and a bit nervous. I’m not a startup founder or investor. My main experience in this world comes as a Startup Weekend participant in 2014. Though, I can give a lot of advice based on that experience.
My biggest tip to Startup Weekend participants – Remember, this is a business competition! No matter how “cool” your idea is, you better find out a way to make money. If the idea cannot make money, investors (or the expert panel) will not care about it.
My Kansas City Startup Weekend Experience in 2014
In November 2014, I pitched my idea “Rent to Me” to Kansas City Startup Weekend. The concept was basically Uber for renters. An app/website that allowed potential renters to enter their requirements: price, pets, location, lease length, etc., then independent and commercial landlords and property management companies compete to get the renter.
Enough people loved my idea and we formed a team. For the first 24 hours, we argued about the direction to go with the project. Teams are formed Friday night, and teams pitch to the expert panel Sunday afternoon starting at 4pm(ish). We argued Friday night and nearly all of Saturday.
The goal at Startup Weekend is to create a minimum viable product (MVP), business plan and business growth plan – then create a five minute presentation pitch to present to the panel of experts.
The MVP strategy we landed on was to build a simple website with a contact form for renters to enter their requirements. Initially, our business would be manually operated by employees recruiting landlords and matching renters to landlords. We had a very high-level web developer on our team, but simply, his skills were too advanced for what we needed to roll out quickly. Instead, I built a WordPress website 😀
We completed all of our MVP and developed the business strategies on Sunday morning – except a little bit of validating the idea by calling landlords from Craigslist and apartment complex leasing agents on Saturday. As well, we decided to use a very modest growth plan and projection that would still result in operating a profitable business after year one.
Our pitch was an absolute mess with 30 minutes remaining until our presentation to the panel of experts. That’s when I decided to blow it all up. I told the team member in charge of the presentation slideshow to “just follow me,” and I gave the presentation to other team members. He rearranged the presentation on-the-fly as I walked through the pitch without using the slides. The slides were finally finished with less than 5 minutes to go – we pitched to the expert panel first. The goal of the slideshow was to follow my pitch. I did not look at the slides a single time during the pitch.
During the pitch, I focused heavily on my SEO expertise as the major growth strategy and we pitched a modest growth plan. I had a legitimate answer for every question from the panel. I felt like they were impressed – good thing they weren’t there all weekend to hear the bickering.
We took second place. PS – I think the winning team had built nearly all of their product before Startup Weekend 😜
I highly recommend the Kansas City Startup Weekend experience for everyone
Kansas City Startup Weekend was a great experience and I think everyone can benefit from attending a Startup Weekend. It’s a competition. It teaches you the basics of starting a business. It helps you learn about yourself. It’s fun.
See you at Kansas City Startup Weekend on March 23rd!