Many health-related projects are getting millions of dollars in venture and angel funding. But do you ever wonder where some projects get started? Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs that create an environment to share ideas, form teams and launch startups – all in a 54 hour weekend! Startup Weekend hosts over 1,000 weekend events annually around the globe focused on a mission to inspire, educate and empower individuals, teams and communities.
Recently I have the opportunity to be on the organizing team for a Startup Weekend held in the Triangle of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) with a theme of “Health.” The Startup weekend experience is a full weekend from Friday at 5:00 pm to Sunday at 6:00 pm. The Triangle Startup Weekend runs a few hours shorter than other Startup Weekends. Why? It’s a mystery. A “traditional” Startup Weekend will have about half the participants with technical or design backgrounds and the other half will have business backgrounds.
Beginning with open mic pitches on Friday, attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. Over Saturday and Sunday teams focus on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing LEAN Startup Methodologies and building a minimal viable product. On Sunday evening teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts.
What made this weekend different? By organizing under the theme of “Health” the event brought together a different mix of participants and the structure of the weekend added a few new twists. Our group was a little bit smaller than the typical event due to the summer weekend and the specialized theme of the event. Demographically we had an interesting mix including;
- 29 Men & 15 women on teams (Does not include volunteers, mentors, judges and audience) With 34% of teams having women that’s much higher than the 10-20% usually seen at Startup Weekend.
- Normally you would have three categories of participants: Developers, Designers and Business (non-tech). In the case of our health event we also had 16 medical professionals – 32% of our participants.
- Triangle Startup Weekend also had a high percentage of PHDs among the participants – 21!
- Five of the teams were led by women including the team that won the “Best Overall” – Aura.
Throughout the weekend I was able to capture the experiences of the a number of the participants from the organizers to volunteers, mentors and judges. Let’s hear their reactions to their Triangle Startup Weekend Health experience.
- Global Startup Weekend Facilitator: Shashi Jain
- Participant: Tia Simpson
- Participant: Michael Brown
- Participant: Mike McNeill
- Mentor: Dr. Michael Cousins
- Organizer: Jon O’Donnell
- Participant: Leo Alonzo
- Participant: Christina
- Volunteer: Dr. Dexter Louie
- Presentation Coach: Andy Roth
- Judge: Farnoosh Brock
- Mentor: John Austin