Geraldton Startup Weekend was held on the 19th and 20th of September, providing a structured fun and fast way for local people to launch new ventures or projects.
A mix of participants from business, government and community formed teams and used new tools to form, test and then present their ideas for new ventures.
The benefits go beyond the prizes for the winning team, as this sort of event grows capacity in the Midwest region to grow new ventures for a diversified economy and stronger community.
Simultaneously on the same weekend, there were similar events held in Morocco, Brazil, United States, Peru and across Europe.
Startup Weekend is a global movement that inspires people to act on their entrepreneurial ideas by enabling them to meet collaborators, learn how to validate and build an idea and make compelling presentations to potential partners, funders or customers.
Since 2007 more than 700 cities have hosted Startup Weekends, all following the same ethos of “all action, no talk”.
Rather than being competitive and results-focused, Startup Weekend is actually focused on collaboration and learning about the process. The Geraldton Startup Weekend event attracted pastoralists, comedians, project managers, digital trainers, facilitators, photographers, and gardening gurus who each had an idea, or a desire to learn.
After the Friday night pitches where people present themselves and ideas, a limited number of teams were formed around the most popular ideas. Mentors, presenters, educational videos and toolkits are then provided to all the teams to guide their work over the weekend.
By the time the final presentations came round a day later, teams had:
- Exploded vague ideas into ten thousand variations, then narrowed back down to a single focused business proposition.
- Formed sub-teams to work on different aspects of the venture.
- Tested propositions with potential customers through calls, surveys, and text messages.
- Researched competitors, market size and then made decisions about features of the product and its pricing.
- Prepared and presented a 3-minute summary to judges.
The winning team “Express: Impress: Progress” did exactly that, turning a general idea that could have been relevant to community groups or businesses, into a very specific proposition for scalable group training in communication skills.
This idea proved very popular with the target market, even when surveyed on a Saturday, with 97% of those surveyed about the service interested in using it in the next 6 months.
Based on a polished final presentation, the winning team shared in more than $1500 of prizes including a place in the Catalyst program, thanks to MMG Golden Grove, a co-working space, thanks to CityHive and pro-bono business support thanks to Lifetime Services.
The next steps after Startup Weekend for the teams and individuals are to use those new resources to progress their ideas. Several have committed to taking their ventures further through the Catalyst program where there are longer time frames to develop their ideas!
Pollinators have committed to run Startup Weekend again in 2015, with some of the participants from this year likely to facilitate the event. There have also been expressions of interest in running similar events within specific sectors (e.g. Tourism, Youth and Environmental issues), and inquiries can be directed to the team at Pollinators Inc.
Geraldton Startup Weekend in Geraldton 2014 would not have been possible without the support of many organisations and individuals, including:
- Local sponsors MMG, Lifetime Services and 3M,
- Global sponsors including Google, .co and Amazon web services,
- Mentors, coaches, speakers and judges including Alan Bradley, Jason Smith, Melissa Hadley Barrett, Brendon Davies, Jen Hanrahan, Euan Beamont, and Wendy Burr
- Organisers and facilitators including Yvette Hollings, Jo Blayney and Andrew Outhwaite, and the Goodness team who helped with the initial planning.