“Motivation is fuel necessary to keep the human engine running.”
– Zig Ziglar (Week 1 / Day 2)
During the weekend of November 21 – 23, I took part in my first Startup Weekend, Pittsburgh Startup Weekend 6. I found out about this event almost two years ago while studying for my Master of Science in Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh’s iSchool. It seems like over the course of the last few years I’ve always had an excuse for why I couldn’t attend. Finally, this fall my schedule freed up, and I immediately signed up when I saw the announcement of the event on Twitter. The main reason I wanted to attend is because I’ve been working on the goal of building a trail. Pittsburgh Startup Weekend satisfied all of the criteria about building a trail: networking, a chance to create a new project, practice shipping my work, create an impact, learn new skills, and get out of my comfort zone.
Don Charlton, the founder of Resumator, put it best during his keynote talk on Friday night. He said, “You had to be fucking crazy to sign up for something like Startup Weekend”. He went on to tell us it’s nuts to think we’ll lock our selves in a room for 54 hours and create a company. We’re crazy to leave our family and friends to join a group of strangers and try to execute on an idea. It’s crazy because it’s easier to stay home and not take part in this event, to not meet new people, to not pitch, not learn a new skill, not express yourself, or not care. Don’t come to startup weekend if you don’t want to do every one of those things, because it’s impossible to stay in your comfort zone. If this is your first time, you’ll grow in ways you didn’t think was possible. You’ll do things you didn’t realize you could. There is the opportunity to be entertained, eat great food, network with decision makers, learn from experienced mentors, and then at night you can have a beer with some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet.
The main experience is you’ll be amazed at how much fun you can have locked in a room full of strangers trying to turn a glimpse of an idea into a business. People do win Startup Weekend. I was fortunate to be on a talented team that executed well and won first place but there are no losers. Everyone walks away with much more than they showed up with.
I think Startup Weekend embodies the quote at the beginning of this post. Motivation is what you will get at Startup Weekend. During the event and afterwards you’ll be motivated to continue with the success you achieved during the weekend. It’s what allows you to spend 54 hours working on a dream.