By Ty Webber
This was one of my favorite Nike campaigns as a kid growing up. Bo Jackson was a hero of mine and needed this slogan for Startup Weekend Missoula 2013 (first one in MT). I had met Rob Irizarry (Rightnow Technologies, Blackstone Group, Kudoso) when I pitched an idea to him and said that I absolutely should do Startup Weekend. Although I have a lot of leadership and management experience, being an entrepreneur on my own was new to me but I loved the way it made me feel. I am an introvert by nature so joining a group of any kind is scary for me, let alone a group of 100 strangers. I basically knew just Rob (who led that weekend) but I stepped out in faith because he said it would be good for me and I wanted to keep growing.
I knew you didn’t have to pitch…only 30 of the 100 people from Missoula 2013 actually did pitch. No one will make you pitch. Rob did suggest I try a pitch. I had an idea that I had been thinking about for a while (a solution to a problem I had at work) so I gave it a shot. It didn’t go so well but that’s ok. I think I actually practiced a little too much but never practiced with an audience. Big mistake! I was able to forget about it fairly quickly and move on. Remember, you do not have to give a pitch for Startup Weekend Glacier coming up in September. You can join a team from the pitches and use your skills (yes, you have skills that will be important to a team!) to help your team build a business in 54 hours. Can it be done? Absolutely and it’s a total blast. You don’t have to give the final presentation to the judges. If presenting is an issue for you, forget about it. I think there are some good opportunities for people to get practice presenting if they want but no one has to. The audience, your prospective teammates, coaches, and judges all want you to be successful. I had expected this to be much more stressful: meeting new people, working with people I just met, interacting with all these talented coaches and judges, and competition with other teams. I just wasn’t that stressful. I was surprised to find teams helping each other, feeding off each other. Teams were cheering others on, likely because they knew what the others teams were going through. We shared a room with a team of 8 and when they got their first sale (a rental transaction of a pair of skis for $10) we all celebrated. I found we were more in competition with ourselves and the goals we had set out for our team.
The other thing I would highly recommend if you are still anxious about joining the Startup Weekend Glacier movement: bring a friend! Instead of doing this on your own (you aren’t by the way…there are other nervous future entrepreneurs that are in the same boat) ask a buddy to join you. You can eventually join the same team or be on different teams but I know it is comforting to know you have someone you know nearby you trust. By the end of this weekend, you will have lots more friends you can trust. I’ll make you a bet – one cup of coffee. I bet that no matter what business you are thinking of starting, you will find a potential partner (if you want one) and at least 2 mentors that can help you.
So…just do it!