11 Ways to Strike It Rich at Startup Weekend

by Larry Chiang on November 20, 2010

Larry Chiang scandalously shows granular tid-bits in how to start as an entrepreneur. He edits the Bloomberg BusinessWeek channel “What They Don’t Teach You at Business School”. After Chiang’s Harvard Law keynote, Harvard Business wrote: “What They Don’t Teach You at Stanford Business School“ (its the same title as his NY Times bestseller). If you read his scandalously awesome “What a Supermodel Can Teach a Stanford MBA” and “How to Get Man-Charm”, you will like his latest post:

11 Ways to Strike It Rich at Startup Weekend

By Larry Chiang

Startup Weekend is the hip cool way to dabble your feet to sample startup life

This weekend it is happening at my friend David Weekly’s HackerDojo. Elizabeth Knopf from SecondMarket told me about it. Here are 11 things I told her about “Acing Startup Weekend”

I’m assuming you know the general structure but if you don’t, you can read about it HERE. In essence, you come in Friday, pitch your concept, execute it Saturday and launch it by Sunday.

Welcome to your window into how to Hack Startup Weekend.

-1- Fail Forward

Most startups fail.

Since this is startup weekend, most won’t take root and flourish. Accept this inevitable outcome. Embrace the failure and leverage it.

Answer me this:
Did you want to dedicate this weekend to experience and granularly grind-out an idea?!

Can you be happy with putting yourself directly into harms way where your ego, your ivy pedigree and your confidence will be rocked to the core?!

Will you commit to doing and trying things that have an extremely low probability of S-U-C-C-E-S-S?!

Will you be comfortable…

-2- Pitching!

You must pitch.

In my opinion, you shouldn’t forgo pitching you and your startup idea. You might not get funding right after your pitch, but you will woo a founder or two.

Bonus points if you
– prep your pitch
– incorporarte humor
– create an entourage on the spot
– have a call-to-action
– pitch a concept that is like aspirin vs a vitamin.

-3- Over Observe.

You want to participate.

Ideally you wear what you never wear and you do what you never do. It’d be genius to adopt a new name too. Call me Lorenzo Chiang please. I’ll be embarassing myself in the front row.

-4- Failing to Build Brand

I pitched a concept that was making money and I still failed. Muck9 is my sequel company to Duck9.

But even though I failed, I still built my brand at startup weekend by getting my afterparty brand out there. I offered to do any company’s launch party.

What is your brand and what do you stand for?!

Me, I want you to Duck 9s, keep an eye on your fico score and maybe think about an afterparty I’m hosting.

-5- Prep

You can 5x your ROI (return on investment) for every hour you spend preparing. Yes, reading this article in 10 minutes can be credited. Yes, you should call me on my cell at 650-2838-8008.

-6- Rolodex Up

If you do not make 3 friends for life, you are not thinking about building your rolodex enough.

-7- Incorporate Humor In Your Pitch

Engineer one laugh.

Program in one humorous snippet.

Remind people your name during your pitch and incorporate a visual aid. Bonus points if you have a theme. Double bonus if your visual aid is funny, sells your concept and solidifies your brand.

-8- Hijack in a Value Added Way

Most events can be hijacked in that you add and augment the visibility and PR generated.

I reccomend that you bring in pizza or a special guest. When I helped produce a startup weekend, I ‘went native’ and went from organizer to participant. When my pitch failed, I went to default event secretary.

-9- Bring a VC as your crasher

Guess how many VCs get invited. Very few.

I’d bring one as your “+1″ and have them bring cupcakes. Better yet, buy the cupcakes for them and host a cupcake social in their honor. I’d also charge them a deposit that I’d then REFUND if they actually show up

-10- URL

Remind people what the URL is

-11- I’d Blog this Event

I’m predicting that there’ll only be one or two blog articles written. Trust me, they’ll pass your article around. Your ROI for time spent is upped another 5x if you spend 15 minutes writing a blog

15 minutes?!

Yes. Spend it doing 3 paragraphs, two pictures (from this event or last years event) and one video (yours or just a random one off ofYouTube)

Email me and I’ll link to your blog :-)

*** BONUS ***
a party invite for you:
What a Supermodel Can Teach a Harvard MBA
If you liked this…


Larry’s mentor Mark McCormack wrote this in 1983. His own book came out 09-09-09. It is called ‘What They Don’t Teach You At Stanford Business School‘

This post was drafted in an hour and needs your edits… email me if you see a spelling or grammatical error(s)… larry@larrychiang com

Larry Chiang started his first company UCMS in college. He mimicked his mentor, Mark McCormack, founder of IMG who wrote the book, “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School”. Chiang is a keynote speaker and bestselling author and spoke at Congress and World Bank.

Text or call him during office hours 11:11am or 11:11pm PST +/-11 minutes at 650-283-8008. Due to the volume of calls, he may place you on hold like a Scottsdale Arizona customer service rep. If you email him, be sure to include your cell number in the subject line. If you want him to email you his new articles…, ask him in an email
You can read more equally funny, but non-founder-focused-lessons on Larry’s Amazon blog .

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