First time at Startup Weekend Cluj

This past weekend I went to the Startup Weekend event with my best friend and business partner Paul.

It was the first time we participated to something even remotely similar to this so we got a bit stressed because we did not know what to expect, but I’m getting a head of my self.

Two weeks before #SWCLUJ

At the beginning of the January we decided that this year is going to be different. We have to get out of out comfort zone and get started on the ideas we’ve been holding back on to try and bring more value to our day  to day lives.

We had just bought our tickets and and we were thinking what idea are we going to pitch or are we just going to go there with just our tech wiz skills. We spent the next week coming up with an idea that can help release a pain I’ve been having for a long time now. Finding relevant content without going through all the social spam or searching the web trying to find anything close to what I want to read.

It was hard because we were navigating between a couple of possible pitches, but we had finally found something worth implementing, however there was a catch, how do we make money out of it? If you can’t make money out of it from the get go at least make sure that you don’t need a significant infrastructure to support it if it get’s popular fast.

Over the weekend we thought more about this and realised that we can limit some of the functionality and create a PRO subscription plan in order to get access to it.

The week before the event

On Monday morning Paul comes to the office and says that he’s found an ever better way to do it. We spent the next few hours talking about it and had something we thought was impressive if it were to be built.

Paul ordered some business cards to try and leave a nice impression at the event and started perfecting the pitch and look over the information that the organisers sent us in the last few days before the weekend.

Startup Weekend

The weekend finally came and we rushed to the event with out laptops, our one crazy idea and a little bit of hope.

One thing that you really need to understand when you go to this event is that it’s all about the people. It’s mainly an event to meet interesting people, have a bit of fun and work as much as you can to make your idea stand out.

From the very start we talked with other attendees that participated in the previous years and were able to give us a bit of insight into what to expect.

After some presentations and good fun organised by Vidar Andersen we started pitching, formed themes and brainstormed for the rest of the evening.

The next morning we started with the advice of two coaches. The first one said that it is very hard to convince users to write about anything, or even share articles that are relevant to what they are looking for. We should instead try to move to a different direction and convince the users that you can deliver them great content from the start. We discussed a bit about these before the appointment with the next one.

The second coach said that he would not pay for this when there are other applications that he uses to get his news and that we should focus on some other sectors and work our way from those.

Coaches are there to force you to think differently and make sure you analysed every possible angle before you continue on a path. The opinion of one person with an impressive background does hold some weight, but they can also contradict each other in their statements. In the end no matter if you change your initial idea or not make sure that you focus on the value you bring and the core of the idea.

In our case we decided to go with a completely different approach to making the impact in our readers lives. We started implementing and connected a lot with another team and had a blast on Saturday evening.

Sunday was crazy. We needed to have an MVP ready by 5 PM, get another opinion from a coach for the new idea and contact a few potential clients to validate it. We worked a lot to have the application ready for a show and tell, while Horea, Cristi and Nicoleta worked in the design and presentation for the pitch.

Sadly we didn’t win anything except for a lot of experience, good friends and some interesting connections, but that’s what matters in the end.

I am looking forward to participating next year with an even better business idea and continue to working on what we started these past 2 weeks.

Thank you #SWCLUJ for all the valuable lessons and the great time I’ve had while working on my idea.