Last weekend I have been to a great start-up weekend in Tokyo. Apparently Tokyo doesn't have a great startup scene, but the experience I've had there proves differently to me. If not the reality, at least the potential.
There were lots of great ideas, some more practical than others, but these weekends are a very good time to try and boot even the less practical start-ups.
While a lot of the messages delivered during start-up weekend were familiar to me, a few of the practicalities really stuck out.
Get your vision straight!
A few ideas were very popular, and garnered a huge following in terms of people willing to work on them. This resulted in a few very big teams.
I myself was in a team of 3 people, and we already had difficulty getting our ideas for the startup to align. In fact, we only succeeded in doing this at the end of the first day, until which time we were just floundering about.
This lost us almost an entire day we could've filled with productive work. Of course ideas were generated, but if I were to do it over again, the first thing we should have done was sit down and get our vision straight.
People interested in your idea are not necessarily willing to work on it
We started out with 50 participants, 24 pitches, and ended up with about 8 teams. During the process of whittling down the ideas to the most viable ones, we got to vote on the pitches we throught best. There were 3 votes per person, and you needed at least 7 votes to pass.
The team I ended up on, had votes from at least 6 different people, and the highest total vote count of all pitches. However, after about 10 minutes of people joining teams, the person whom pitched was still walking around alone, without any teammates.
Apparently, people thought the idea was good, but couldn't bring themselves to work on it for some reason
(I'll try to figure out what the cause for this behaviour is in the future)
How am I going to get customers?!
One of the questions most often repeated by the advisors on the panel was "how will you get customers?". This seems to be the thing that most start-ups fail on, and one that I keep seeing everywhere.
I see it so many times, that I'm starting to wonder if this isn't the most important part of the whole thing. A lot of people started building a working prototype, but I have to wonder would the weekend be better spent, if instead of building a prototype we would've found even 'one' paying customer.