How to Launch your Edtech Startup on Startup Weekend Education

Kirsten is an award winning edublogger and the founder & editor of EDUKWEST, a growing online media network of educators and educational entrepreneurs ("edupreneurs") highlighting the best of transformational educational technologies and businesses.

Do you have a great idea for an application, game or service that would help students to learn, involve parents or make life as a teacher easier? Do you require a skilled team to help design, code or sell the product? Then Startup Weekend Education might be the perfect place to turn your idea into reality.

From its humble beginnings just a few years ago, Startup Weekend quickly grew to a world wide network of passionate entrepreneurs, mentors and community leaders who have the goal to foster entrepreneurship and educate people to create their own startup.

 

What’s it all about?

Startup Weekend Education LondonAs the name suggests, Startup Weekends take place from Friday to Sunday and the aim is to launch a working prototype of a product or service in 54 hours. No talk, all action. On Friday people meet at the location and pitch their ideas. After that, teams are formed that usually consist of a developer, a designer and a business development guy or gal. In the education vertical of the event there should also be someone with a background in education, hence a teacher.

Saturday and Sunday are then all about the building of the product. During the day mentors with background in education, development, business and other aspects are helping and coaching the teams. On Sunday night the teams then present their finished products in front of a jury of investors and market experts.

I just had the pleasure to be a coach at the Startup Weekend Eucation in London and I believe that this is one of the best ways for anyone thinking about getting involved in the edtech startup scene to understand how it feels to run a startup. You will also get first class feedback on your idea and who knows, maybe your idea is the next big thing in education?

In order to get the best out of a Startup Weekend Education, here are some tips:

1) Practice your pitch

Startup Weekend Education LondonOne of the crucial steps to presenting your idea and finding people to help with the concept comes right at the start of the weekend. You need to convince a developer, a designer and maybe a bizdev member to join your team. Therefore you need to present your idea in the best way possible.

Don’t come unprepared. Practice your pitch at home, with your family and friends. Try to get the main points in under three minutes. If people are interested in your idea they will come after your pitch and ask for more details.

2) Do one thing really well

You only have 54 hours to create your product out of thin air. Therefore focus on your MVP (minimum viable product). Don’t try to do everything from the start, ask yourself what is the core of the idea that needs to be there from the start and build exactly that. There is simply not enough time to build every aspect of the idea.

And you can always give an outlook of what the app or service will be capable of down the road in your Sunday pitch. Judges and investors usually prefer to see a working prototype with minimal functionality to a worked out presentation of a product that might be. Having a prototype of the product after 54 hours shows that you and your team are able to execute on an idea.

3) Don’t try to be perfect

Again it’s an illusion to create something perfect in 54 hours in terms of functionality and design. What you need to achieve is that your idea comes to life, even if it doesn’t look polished for the moment. The important thing is that you can show all the important functionality. Adding a nicer design or better user interface can be easily done later on.

4) Evaluate your idea with the real world

Try to get as much feedback and affirmation from the outside as possible. As Startup Weekend is built on the principles of the lean startup movement which only builds products when there is a potential market you need to get feedback from teachers, students and parents as fast as possible.

This can be done via a simple Google doc form with a couple of questions about your idea and if people would use it, pay for it or generally think that they might need it. Then you need to get active on the social networks and try to get as many people as possible to take part in the survey. Again, a great start to get an idea of startup life.

 

How to participate in Startup Weekend Education

Now, if you are interested in taking part in such an event, you can either visit the Startup Weekend or Startup Weekend Education site and search for events in your city or area. Of course you can also take part as a team member without the need to come up with your own idea. If you can help a team with your background in education that is great as well.

 

Feature image courtesy of Flickr, stevendepolo.