The pitches are judged by a panel notable by some achievement—participated in a successful tech company early-stage, founder of a successful startup themselves, hail from a VC background, etc. And they are open for friends, family, and other interested tech folks to attend.
At some StartUp Weekends prizes include medals or even tools to help the startup venture—such as online ad credits, or co-working space passes. Prizes can be awarded however judges see fit—including rewarding things like innovative design, or most promising concept.
The pitch is five minutes—but can be enough to cause bouts of anxiety or even strains in the group. It can also bring out the best in a team–because by the time you do a practice pitch in front of organizers a few hours before the actual pitch, everyone on the team can feel that it’s crunch time. And the common enemy of limited time can unite a team and facilitate honest conversations of what needs to happen in the next hour or two in order for the startup to put its best foot forward in front of their peers, friends, and judges.
Develop a Pitch Itch
Your team pitches, judges ask questions (or don’t), and winners are announced. Teams celebrate another successful StartUp Weekend, swap contact info, and opine on how much they learned.
And that can be it—when the clock winds back to Monday morning, the pitches might remain a fond/anxious memory.
But, if you are budding social entrepreneur, I might suggest you take the weekend as an opportunity to develop a pitch itch.
If you can cultivate the desire and acumen of delivering a focused, friendly 30 second pitch for almost anything in your life (i.e. your startup, your own skills, what you do, your education, what you are looking for in a significant other, what you New Year’s resolutions are)…it can lead to an effective way of framing those things for yourself and expressing them to others.
Pitch Early, Pitch Often
In the first StartUp Weekend I attended we started a practice of turning to someone random in our group and asking them to pitch. At first, it felt a little random and awkward—especially when the idea was itself still changing and evolving. But after a handful of times—it became easier, and I would even venture to say we enjoyed the challenge of the pitch.
Oftentimes when we are working on something really important, we tend to want to wait until it’s ‘done’ to explain or summarize it. A neat thing I’ve learned through two StartUp Weekends is that it can be immensely helpful to pitch early and pitch often.
Even if the pitch changes, or is incomplete, it helps the process of articulating conceptual ideas into words.