A fortnight on from my first start-up weekend and the experience almost feels like a distant dream. Perhaps the slight lack of sleep during the three days made it seemingly more dreamlike – certainly surreal to a degree. Nevertheless, that wondrous whirlwind weekend is worthy of recall, so here is my version of events.
F R I D A Y N I G H T
Pitch Time & Team Creation
There are three ticket options when you sign up – Designer, Developer, and Non-Tech. I opted for a designer ticket (of course), but regardless of label, any ticket holder can pitch an idea for a new business; the sole criterion that you only have a single minute to sell your idea to the crowd.
Following 42 entertaining quick-fire pitches, people put up makeshift posters on the wall with their idea written in vivid. After public voting via stickers on preferred ideas, 15 business concepts remained. It was time to form teams.
I opted to join the ‘Justice Fund’ team, a concept put forth by Lawyer, Sam Green. In basic terms, his concept was similar to kickstarter but with a sole focus on supporting worthy judicial causes via crowd-sourced funding. I liked that it was a social cause, and the idea quickly collected a significant amount of sticker votes on it which was a good indication of viability.
S A T U R D A Y
Plan into action
Our day began with what the Start-up crew called ‘validation’. This component made up one third of the judging criteria, so was of rather vital importance to get right. A basic summary of the validation process is getting feedback from the public and potential stakeholders as to whether your business idea would be valid and supported in the market.
Our marketing team member, Lilia Alexander, sent out an online questionnaire and we then undertook the person-to-person validation method and ventured outside. The abysmal weather dictated an ‘indoors’ approach to surveying the public, so it was off to Harvey Norman to probe with questions relevant to Justice Fund’s validity.
We had support all round, from both the general public and feedback from lawyers. 94% of our public respondents said they would pay to support a worthy cause provided the platform was trustworthy, and 10/10 lawyers thought the Justice Fund concept was both viable and something they would support.
The next duty on my agenda was to design the face of Justice Fund – our logo. This would inform the brand voice, so my first step was a quick round of voting on word associations and colour. From the 30 people asked, the colours voted most approachable were jointly yellow and orange. Reliable & Trustworthy gained votes across grey, black, and blue. With these words representing Justice Fund’s key values, the logo’s icon was set in a mid-point between yellow and orange (a warm, approachable yellow) and the logo text was set in a reliable, trustworthy stone grey.
While my approach to logo development usually involves custom type design, given the particularly pressing time constraints I set about finding a suitable existing typeface and an aptly designed icon in order to make that encroaching deadline. The contemporary serif typeface, perhaps not so appropriately titled, ‘Bitter’, combines a strong slab with some softer curves. It speaks accordingly of being trustworthy with a friendly demeanour. These curves were complimented by the cloud & gavel (judge hammer) icon that was combined with the text to create the final logo.
The next duty was to design and refine our presentation slides, the team lawyers set about refining our business and financial models, and the developers created a website prototype to showcase how our online platform would function.
S U N D A Y
Refine presentation, present to judges!
Now cut to the chase…did we win??
…Unfortunately not, but regardless we certainly felt proud of what we’d managed in that short time and were also inspired by the achievements of other teams. The deserving winners were ‘Rocco’s Dog Food’, a subscription-based healthy dog food delivery concept that also incorporated a social cause via donating to dogs in need. They did a great job of validating their idea, developing a responsive website, and even began selling subscriptions – hopefully they go on to fulfil those orders and more.
So do people actually start a business after all that? Yes, certainly some do, but from what I gather it’s a small proportion of the multitudes of concepts past.
Reflection time. A fortnight on – would I do it all again? The short answer is yes, although if you’d asked me on Saturday morning after what could barely be deemed a swift night’s snooze I might have answered otherwise. The organisers did a great job, and I have to award serious bonus points for the provision of fantastic food.
It was definitely an exciting and andrenaline-inducing venture, and it was great to meet other passionate individuals from different fields. It’s easy to become all-consumed by the industry you work in every day, but experiencing how other people approach problem solving and add value to business development is both insightful and inspiring.
The next Wellington Start-Up Weekend has an environmental theme and is in November.
I’ll see you there…