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Startup Weekend set to scrutinise Sydney innovators

Thursday, 26 April 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

Startup Weekend Sydney participants should ensure they attend this weekend’s event with a concise idea for their start-up, according to Ned Dwyer, whose team won the event in Melbourne last year.


Held throughout the world, Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event that focuses on building a web or mobile app that could form the basis of a credible business, over the course of a weekend.


Startup Weekend Sydney will be held from April 27-29 at co-working network Fishburners, which recently expanded its office space in order to hold regular industry events.


Registered participants arrive on Friday evening at 6pm and start pitching their ideas to the audience by 7.30pm. Contenders have 60 seconds of pitching to prove their ideas worthy.


Teams are then formed around the best ideas. Over the course of the weekend, each team develops a beta concept to present to the judging panel on Sunday evening.


At least one Startup Weekend event has been held in most of Australia’s capital cities, so this is the second time Sydney will play host. The event is expected to attract around 150 people.


Prizes include $5,000 for the winning team, four new Apple iPads and two HTC One-X handsets.


PushStart managing director Kim Heras, who will be on the judging panel, says events such as Startup Weekend can prove highly useful for start-up organisations.


“Things like Startup Weekend are really good because they help us find people who are action-orientated… That’s half the game in the start-up world,” he says.


“I don’t think Startup Weekends are about creating start-ups – it’s about practice for real stuff. I’m participating because I think it’s a great idea, not just to try and scout people.”


“You see the ideas coming out of Startup Weekend, but you’re looking back at the people… You’re looking for people who have taken the lead and gotten stuff done.”


“Ideas are not so important, outcomes are not so important – it’s the attitude [of participants] and the way people think about stuff.”


RecruitLoop co-founder Michael Overell, who is one of the event speakers, says he’ll be talking to the participants about the United States and Silicon Valley, having just spent four weeks there.


“I’ll share a couple of my experiences there and maybe just share [my thoughts] on the reality of start-up life,” Overell says.


“Once you get beyond the exciting two-day creation phase, the hard work that comes after that [is what I’ll be talking about].”


Ned Dwyer, whose team won the main prize at Startup Weekend Melbourne last year, in addition to the opening night pitch competition, has some advice for those who want to win.


“Come with a concise idea for your start-up and what you can build in a weekend to validate it,” Dwyer said in a guest blog post for Startup Weekend Sydney.


“You need to have a big vision – a big market and a significant pain point – but you need to be able to articulate this in 30 seconds.”


“You also need to be able to articulate what you think can be achieved in a weekend to validate the concept in front of the judges on Sunday night.”


“A sharp pitch on Friday night will help you build a great team and quickly get to work on the task at hand. The team in particular is going to be essential to getting over the line.”


Meanwhile, Fishburners director David Vandenberg says Fishburners’ new events space – which is where Startup Weekend Sydney will be held – came about thanks to sponsorship from Optus.


“Optus sponsors Startup Weekend. They’ve also sponsored us, so they’re our major sponsor now,” Vandenberg says.


“That’s allows us to get the events space that we’ve been trying to get for awhile. We just took a new level in the building we’re in.”


“It’s a four-level building and now we have three of those four levels. With the level we just took out, a bit more than half of the space is a dedicated events space.”


“We’re offering that to meet-up groups and anyone in the community that hosts events.”