What counts more, the five minute presentation or the 56 hours that preceded it?

Well, it’s been three weeks since CU Startup Weekend.  I dropped by Spark Boulder today just to say hi, and was thrilled to see an entire team there still working on their product.  (In fact, there were two teams there, but the other has been there since Spark opened).

I thought I’d say something about my perspective about the weekend, because I had the exact opposite experience as the judges.  I was present for most of the weekend, mentoring and observing, but left at “pencils down” to see my daughter’s hula show.  So I didn’t see the final presentations.  (Well, not until later — thanks for recording them for me!!!)

Please don’t take this as a criticism either of the winning teams nor the judges, but I was pretty surprised by the outcome.  I think the winning teams all have good ideas, but a couple teams that didn’t place in the top three were, from my point of view, the best at executing together.  So my post is really about encouraging the teams that didn’t “win.”  I hope that getting together for the weekend, and learning that you could work together and build a product and a team was also a win for you.  Many of you had great ideas, but more importantly you worked together, adapted, and delivered over and over again in those 56 hours.  I know there aren’t prizes for “best teamwork” or “most likely to succeed” but if you keep going with your ideas and your great teams, the prize will be building a great company together.  (And if you DO keep going, come see me.  There are a few of you that I’d invest in.)

On the other hand, if you had a great idea, an excellent team, but bombed your presentation, you need to fix that.  Because the last 5 minutes of Startup Weekend do matter.  And it’s just the first time you’re going to need to demonstrate how amazing your idea and team are in only 5 minutes.  You’re going to do it again and again.  For investors, for journalists, and in elevators.  And if that’s not enough pressure, remember that you only get 15 to 60 SECONDS to capture your potential customer’s interest.

In any case, I hope everyone left feeling like a winner, because you all did great!


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