It is no less than 150 participants who decided to spend their week-end with other would-be startup founders here at the Hochschule der Medien in Stuttgart. The event is Startup Weekend Stuttgart 2013 and it is the biggest Startup Weekend ever in the region. And tickets sold out about a month ago. We have experienced professionals, a lot of students and young professionals and even a few high school students. SAP is very proud to be the main sponsor of the event, following up on Startup Weekend Silicon Valley which SAP also supported in June.
Startup Weekend is by now a well established event format in the global startup scene. A week end-long matchmaking event between those with a startup idea but no team and those who want to join them at the very first stage of the journey. By the end of the week-end teams have formed around a startup idea, built a shared understanding of the business objectives, brainstormed a few variants of the business model, and above all checked their compatibility as a team. In the weeks after the event many of them will take the next step, creating the company and quitting the day job. Or creating their own first day job in the case of students.
The amount of energy and passion here is hard to believe. But what I find most amazing is that collaboration between all involved is a given, and competition is nowhere to be seen. The credit for this goes to a large extent to the organizing team who set the perfect tone right from the very first minute, and to Uwe Horstmann who gave the keynote speech on Friday night. Uwe is a serial entrepreneur and one of the founders of Project A Ventures, a venture firm with offices in Berlin and Sao Paulo. His message stroke the perfect balance between telling the reality of launching a startup as it is, and convincing every single person in the audience that they had what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
The ideas pitched on Friday evening were as diverse as the participants themselves: payment escrow services, online platforms for storing and donating used clothes, airbnb for yatchs, crowdsourced last-mile product delivery, online insurance brokers, communication platforms for non-profits and even a flying umbrella based on a quadropter design. One idea for an online game was pitched by way of a poem.
Along with the expected mix of B2B and B2C ideas, I was positively surprised to see how many would-be startup founders simply wanted to make the world a better place. We saw crowdsourcing platforms for global change, certification programs for ethical corporations, and a platform for sharing karma in the form of visiting someone else’s grandparents when living far away from ones own.
Out of the 55 ideas the participants themselves selected the top 20 ideas. Teams then formed around those ideas based on the mix of skills required and are now busy working through the first iteration of their business model using the business model canvas approach.
Later today the teams will have a change to bounce their ideas off experienced coaches, including coaches from SAP and the SAP-supported InnoWerft startup incubator in Walldorf, Germany. The teams will then iterate a few more times before the final presentations and judging on Sunday evening, which you can follow live at http://stuttgart.startupweekend.org/live/