Startup Weekend Wellington = awesome

Trade Me staffers Nick Gough and Vamsi Vempati recently headed along to the Wellington edition of Startup Weekend (Trade Me is one of the sponsors). Here's their take on what they saw, built, touched and pitched over a wild 54 hours in the capital.

Vamsi: Startup Weekend is totally worth sacrificing your weekend for. During the 54 hours, I got the opportunity to learn a lot about starting up a business, and what is involved. It was a fantastic way to validate our idea and potentially turn it into a business, meet awesome people and learn lots.

Nick: Startup Weekend was exhilarating. As they say: "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." The weekend was fantastically run and I would recommend it to anyone.

Vamsi: To begin with, everyone who has an idea gets the chance to pitch their idea to close to 100 people. Voting begins and people who pitched know whether they've been successful. If not, we do not have to worry as there are plenty of other awesome ideas to work on.

Nick: The weekend was full of validating the problem, coming up with a solution concept and trying to validate this, creating a business model, getting support and advice from amazing mentors, creating a 5-minute pitch, practicing, tweaking, practicing, refining, practicing and finally delivering the pitch to judges.

Vamsi: I pitched an idea and got some interest and soon there were 4 other people interested in working alongside me. But, we were all developers except for one designer. It's always good to have diverse skills in your team and our team was not diverse enough. However, we overcame this barrier and performed the roles of those we were missing originally.

Vamsi: We talked to people on the streets, did online surveys, validated our idea, tweaked it - repeated the process, made a working protoype and came up with a business model to present it during the the final pitch on Sunday. Even though we did not win, it was a great exercise.

Vamsi: We would not have been in a position to present a decent model without the help of our awesome mentors who offered their guidance throughout the weekend.

Nick: I pitched an idea on the Friday night, was unsuccessful, but now have a new "evolving" skill. Failing with my pitch was amazing karma as I joined a team with a group of truly inspirational people and we worked together on the very powerful concept of helping rural Maori men improve their mental wellness and community connections.

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Vamsi: It is very hard for one person to have all the skills required to make an idea work, Startup Weekend is the best way to find awesome people to work with, who come with a diverse skillset.

Nick: There is a great feeling at the end!

Vamsi: My weekend was filled with excitement, anxiety, nervousness, fun, pressure and a lot more. And it was totally worth sacrificing my weekend for.

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