What can you do in 54 hours?

The flyer I came across promised that we would build a business in this time. What the flyer didn’t hit on was the perspective, energy and new doors that would emerge after Startup Weekend. For all who have rejected the idea of attending, are on the fence or are not sure of its worth, the story below is for you. For everyone else, please know this event is a game-changer.

I had driven the hour and a half after work from Chicago to Rockford. I signed in and asked the other participants about what they knew of the event, what their expectations were? Then the big question came: “Would you be presenting your idea to the group?”

Startup Weekend begins with business pitches. After the pitches, the group has a chance to talk more to those who pitched and then vote on which idea they would like to go forward with. After the ideas are narrowed down, each member chooses the idea they will envision, develop and creatively create over the weekend.

My idea was one of those chosen to move forward. Our team was made up of mostly tech experts, programmers who programmed in different languages. I learned that this weekend was going to be more than just creating a tangible business; it would be learning how to create trust and generate energy among a group who did not know each other. I don’t code, so it was also a weekend of learning how to speak a common language that programmer and visioner could understand.

There’s something so fulfilling about creating. At first, our group approached our task as creating something from scratch. But after many discussions and help from coaches, we realized that the wheel did not need to be reinvented entirely. Entrepreneurship is as much creating a more efficient system or product as it is creating something from scratch. The definition of entrepreneurship that I held onto for all my university years was being changed in a couple of hours.

One of the most beneficial parts of Startup Weekend, is the support from local entrepreneurs and successful business owners who serve as coaches to the teams. Their only priority is to help you create. They serve as your challenger, advocate, encourager and give you a realistic perspective. Their experience brings the “real world” component to the competition. One of the strongest coaches our team had was Jason Todd, from Thinker Ventures. He met us where our ideas were at and, through strategic questions, elevated our idea to a place it would not have gotten without the push. Furthermore, he instilled a confidence in our team that led us to our final business pitch in front of the judges with an unwavering notion that our pitch was the best.

Thinker Ventures is hosting Startup Weekend this year on Nov. 17, 18 and 19. The talent and perspectives that are housed within this group are an invaluable source for anyone who is looking to learn about entrepreneurship, start-up life and pushing past your comfort zone.

In the 54 hours, you will dive into a team and an experience that will change your perspective on technology and entrepreneurship. There is a place for everyone in creating a business, and during this weekend you have the opportunity to see where you fit.  What are you waiting for? Startup Weekend is the game-changer you need.