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Startup Weekend Amsterdam Experience

A few weeks ago I attended Startup Weeekend Amsterdam. I should say, it was really a weekend full of ideas, creativity, productivity and nice people.

To describe very briefly, Startup Weekend events are short, weekend long events that are organized all around the world where attenders join together to pitch ideas and build products/services around those ideas. It is all self-contained. Everything is done by the attenders, from pitching ideas to forming teams, working over the weekend to realize those ideas and presenting them to the panelists. The organization behind Startup Weekend provides place, food and the panelists. ;) ..and by the way, as far as I heard, they’re not earning money from these events.

I payed around €60 and bought a software developer ticket for myself. Tickets are simply attached to roles like marketing, sales, law, software development etc.. There was also one called “Jack of all Trades” for those who wanted to cheat a little bit.

Friday evening, event started with a brief introduction talk and afterwards, attenders with ideas started taking turns and presenting their ideas. Everybody had like a minute and a half to introduce their ideas. Around 40 people made a pitch, which I heard is a pretty good number compared to the number of ideas presented in other Startup Weekend sessions around the world. This idea pitching section was followed by a short break and a voting session.

Owners of 8-10 ideas receiving the highest number of votes took turns again to talk for another 30 seconds and call people to join their team. This part was especially fun because idea owners were trying to do all kinds of things to attract other people to work for them over the weekend.

I watched teams evolve in about 45 minutes.. It was like a party where everybody was talking to each other. Once a group of people form a team, they were moving to the study room, which was a quite cool place. There were no any sort of rules for forming teams.. No restrictions. Whoever had their teams ready, were moving on.

I worked in two teams throughout the weekend and kept an eye on other teams. Just for fun.. Watching how things were developing from being bare concepts / ideas in to something concrete was really interesting.. These people didn’t know each other few hours before and now they were working together to accomplish something.

On Sunday evening, teams presented their business ideas along with their weekend accomplishments to the panelists. Every team had 3 minutes to show their magic. From there on, panelists made their decisions about the winners. There were technologists, entrepreneurs, lawyers and investors among the panelists (you can find them on Startup Weekend Amsterdam).

A couple of ideas I liked:

  • Japps.me (Job application management tool): Having hard time following and managing your job applications? Using this tool you might have kept track of your job applications, related conversations, statuses etc.. I think it is a very good idea, but of course the implementation matters a lot.

  • Pulsetree (Social idea mining tool): Now it is very obvious to me that this is going to be a very hot/big concept soon. It is about hooking up to social networks, blogs etc. (via API’s) to sniff opinions about products or companies and preferably allowing companies to engage with the opinion makers. Catching the opinions about their products and engaging with the opinion makers will be something vital for large companies.

  • 123 Dress me: The idea was mainly started with an iPhone application in which users can put the photos of their clothes in their closet in a top, middle and bottom manner. Then this application will allow them to match their clothes and give them an idea about what new combinations they can try. This opens many possibilities like displaying ads from stores, and now you can match your existing clothes with pieces from stores, and even order them with a single tap maybe..

  • Alter-Ego (a smart phone game about sustainability) : Inspired by mobile games that are tightly integrated with player’s real life, these guys are putting real life goals for the players and letting them earn points based on their real life accomplishments. Although verifying many types of accomplishments are impossible and made me very skeptic about this game’s future, the idea really fits well into the current trend. (Some accomplishments are like taking the public transportation instead of your car, or using nature friendly commodities and helping the sustainability). These guys were chosen as winners and won free office space in Amsterdam for a year.

The location was a courtesy of “Kennedy Van der Laan”. And organizers said that it was the best place they’d ever gotten so far.. Indeed the building was very nicely decorated. I should say, it was a right place to start a company. :)

Startup Weekend Amsterdam Experience
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