The final component of a StartUp Weekend is the pitch presentation. Starting early evening on Sunday, all of the teams pitch the startup company they have been building over the past 50+ hours, including any multimedia or live demos.


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.

Get out of the building #swbay

We are wrapping up Day #2 of Startup Weekend for Social Good in San Francisco.

It’s 11:26 pm and the Hub–the co-working space for social entrepreneurs in SOMA—is still abuzz with groups working on coding, building out a business model, asking for feedback, socializing, swapping life stories, and figuring out what to include in their pitch at tomorrow evening’s presentation.

It’s not every day you can say you’ve worked on a couple of ideas you’re passionate about, given feedback on a few others, connected with people from backgrounds ranging from high-tech to social media to venture capital to poverty alleviation—who are from places spanning France, Arkansas, SF, and Denmark (to name a few).

There’s one theme that captures an essential aspect of StartUp Weekend. And it’s repeated over and over again (for good cause)…”get out of the building.”

Teams are told to get out of the building to ask as many people as they can about their startup idea, the platform, the product, whether people use something like it, or whether they would.

And though it may seem obvious to do so—in reality sometimes it’s just much more comfortable to work quietly or with your team or in solitude behind your laptop or at your desk. It can be daunting to think about going outside, approaching strangers who are too busy/disinterested/borderline-irritated to hear about your latest and greatest startup idea.

But that what makes it thrilling.

You have no idea what people will say—they might love it, totally not understand it, and even tell you something your team hadn’t even considered.

And getting out of the building builds character. You have to stick your neck out—pull yourself out of a comfort zone—and into something much more unknown.

If you make it through the excursion, and through the weekend, your team will enter into a whole new phase of startup entrepreneurship. From ideation to something a little less romantic—into deeper strategy talks, pivots, building, implementation, and execution.

And, it will be thrilling too.

We are in the middle of StartUp Weekend for Social Good in San Francisco, hosted by Hub Ventures. The concept of Startup Weekend is to bring together budding entrepreneurial-minded coders, designers, business folks, marketers, media, and just about anyone to dedicate 54 hours (Friday pm through Sunday) to work on a startup idea.There is an emphasis on pitching ideas, forming teams, validating concepts through customer feedback, and building as much of a prototype as time allows.This StartUp Weekend has an extra layer of focus. It is being held to bring cultivate startup concepts that focus on social impact in addition to entrepreneurship.

Though we are just crossing the halfway point, the weekend has been exciting so far—it has been interesting to see the kinds of ideas that have cropped up and the unique effect adding an impact focus has added to business models.  Here are a few photos from the first night.

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Wes Selke, Founding Director of Hub Ventures, introduces his organization’s social enterprise accelerator program.

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StartupWeekend SF participants respond to questions from the speaker.
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A few areas in which social entrepreneurs create impact.
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Keynote Speaker Nick Ellis talks about his social enterprise, Job Rooster, which connects anyone, anytime, anywhere to local employment through text messages–addressing issues of access to job listings for non/low-tech job seekers.

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Startup Weekend organizer John Beadle explains the game plan for the weekend.


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After the speakers it was time to test our pitching skills with a pitch exercise.
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After individuals presented, attendees ‘shopped’ around for ideas they wanted to work on.
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Groups met and strategized how to begin building a startup in a weekend.
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Burning the midnight oil, groups stayed late to map out an approach to do well by doing good.
Here is list of 25+ tools to build your inner entrepreneur.That’s it. Just a compilation of lectures, publications, blogs, news, learning tools, and more; in no particular order.Whether you were born an entrepreneur or are called to be one, one or more of these tools might help you hone your skills and sharpen your instincts.

productivity tools

So, peruse, learn, and then flex your inner entrepreneur in whatever setting you find yourself in.

Don’t find a tool you love? Just add it in the comments and we can incorporate to the list.

A special thanks to my fellow participants of StartUp Weekend Next SF (Oct 2012) for contributing their favorite tools to the list!

  1. StartUp Weekend — find out what’s it’s like to have an idea, work on it non-stop for a weekend, get customer feedback, and build a prototype
  2. StartUp Weekend Next — take your StartUp Weekend experience further and work on your idea in a guided setting for another 3 weeks
  3. Udacity — learn about about how to map out your startup strategy including this class from Steve Blank author of “Owner’s Guide to StartUps”
  4. Tools for StartUp Weekend — list of nearly 30 more tools for startup success by TokBox Developer Song Zheng
  5. PitchCrawl — informal events organized by DishCrawl where startups can pitch to VC’s in a ‘speed dating’ setting
  6. Steve Jobs — book by Walter Isaacson based on 100+ interviews of those who knew the Apple Co-Founder and CEO, and 40 interviews with Jobs himself. Candid, honest account of an innovation & entrepreneurship luminary.
  7. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose — book by Zappos! CEO Tony Hsieh, an insightful narrative (he reads the audio book version himself)
  8. Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives — book on entrepreneurial leadership by Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek, founders of Mountain Ventures.
  9. Founder Dating — an online network to help you meet your next co-founder
  10. LaunchPad Central — online tool to help you manage, track, and analyze your startup and business canvas
  11. Coursera — take online classes on what you don’t know from top schools across the country
  12. Codeacademy — learn how to code through these online, interactive classes.
  13. 24 Must-Read Blogs For Entrepreneurs — article by Alyson Shontell of Business Insider. Links to blogs by entrepreneurial thinkers such as Guy Kawaski, Penelope Trunk, Seth Godin and more.
  14. Meetup — search “entrepreneurship” to find meetup groups for start-ups, bootstrappers, and entrepreneurs, possibly just like you.
  15. DeskWanted — find a coworking space near you, or list one
  16. Animoto — make a totally unique, creative animated slideshow explaining your site or blog
  17. Dezquare — find a web or print designer who vibes with your design sensibilities and get a quote on a project
  18. Apple One to One — a one-year pass for in-store trainings with Apple trainers to learn the ins and outs of Apple software that can can make your presentations, videos, and slideshows sparkle
  19. MorningStar Financials — take a look at the financials of other players in the space
  20. AngelList — online platform where startups and investors can meet
  21. 10 Legal StartUps to Keep You Out of Trouble — blog post by Natasha Murashev, of StartUp Stats, re: new legal startups on the scene, including those that have forms available for startups.
  22. Privacy Icons for Privacy Policies — initiative by Disconnect to categorize privacy policies–a way to find privacy policies aligned with your startup’s goals. Read more here
  23. Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist — book by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson
  24. Instagram — it’s more than a photo-sharing app—its the way millennials and their successors are building communities–around images and experiences
  25. Pinterest — expand your reach by finding ways to integrate this way of sharing content
  26. Facebook Groups — These private groups can be a way to manage internal communication on Facebook. Besides, you’re probably on FB all the time anyway—might as well get your startup updates here too!
  27. HootSuite — manage your startup’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. accounts from one place and schedule posts too.