How to make a billion in two days?

In the past, in order to create a successful business and generate any significant income, you needed either years of hard word, or inhuman commercial abilities and high risk.

Nowadays, the technological era and the development of communication methods have brought in some changes in this regard.

“Nasha Gazeta” sent two correspondents, Alexey and Anastassia, to “Startup Weekend”, which took place in the Google European HQ on Grand Canal Dock, Dublin. Here we were convinced that you could build a potentially billion-euro project in two days, if you have a professional mentor and interested audience.

The event took place from the 10th of April to the 12th. On the first day, the Friday, the Google HQ was flooded with participants of the weekend. They included potential entrepreneurs, designers, programmers, legal professionals, business developers, students, and everything in between. Any could attend this, having bought a ticket. Tickets were available on the event website and the prices varied depending on specialisation (programmer, designer, and non-technical). After introductory talks, everyone had a chance to pitch their idea to the audience in a quick-fire fashion; they had a minute to explain a problem, suggest a solution, and state what people they need to create a so-called MVP, or “Minimum Viable Product”.

There were over thirty pitches made, and the attendants were to vote for their favourite. Each attendant had three votes, and only the top 12 could come through. Some of the chosen ideas were a car entertainment system for children, a public valet parking system, a search engine to find healthcare professionals, and a company to recycle ideas from failed start-ups companies. Interested participants formed the teams, and each team had no more than ten members with a wide range of expertise on each team. The teams spent the rest of the evening discussing and formulating their ideas for the next two days, until the office closed at 11pm.

The next day, from the early morning, the teams spent developing their technologies and websites, researched their targeted market segment, designed logos and graphs, and drew up a business plan. In order to assist with the business plan, there was an interesting and informative lecture about a successful business plan. Throughout the weekend, there were interesting lectures from investors in Bank of Ireland and European Commission, owners of startups both successful and unsuccessful who shared their tips and gave very useful advice about starting your own business.

The teams interactively marketed their projects, posting updates on the weekend in Twitter with the hashtag #SWDub. At the end of Saturday, there were ten teams remaining; two teams had either dissolved or merged with another team for their own reasons.

Then came the final day, and the deciding challenge for all the teams: the final presentation and selection of the top three teams. A panel of professionals in business and technology did the judging.

Starting at 9am, the teams worked diligently on perfecting their final pitch to the judges, which will be happening at 5pm, in between which there were breaks for lunch and advice from professional mentors on improving the pitch. Finally, the time came. The presentations took place in “The Foundry” – Google’s lecture hall, which was attended by the public, including investors, journalists, and everyone who was interested in business. After speeches by the organisers, the winning teams were announced in no particular order to present their prototype. The lead of the team pitched the ideas in no more than four minutes, with another three minutes for questions.

Interesting to note that not all teams pitched the same ideas to the judges as they did on Friday evening. Some had taken their project in a totally new and unrecognisable direction! When the pitches finished, the judges had time to decide on the top teams while everyone else was treated to an informative lecture.

The results came in and the top three teams were announced. These were; an application for pub and club owners to find temporary staff when understaffed (“11th Hour”), a training platform for video gamers and e-sport participants (“xiron”: http://xiron.co), and an application to find gyms on a once-off basis (“GYMY”: http://gymy.co).

Apart from cash prizes and interest from various venture capitalists, the top team, GYMY, was given an opportunity to visit Berlin for a startup forum. However, the main prize from this was a valuable experience, and a chance to form friendships and a cohesive team with people who not two days ago, were complete strangers, and who knows, maybe one of these teams will be worth millions in a few years!

Statup Weekend events happen simultaneously in several parts of the world in over 700 cities! Everyone is welcome to come and try to realise their idea and find sponsors, or just to apply their own knowledge, as well as learn some new skills and gain experience.

The next Startup Weekend will take place in the summer. More information can be found on the websites http://startupweekend.org and http://up.co

Alexey Tarutin

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