Three Things I Learned at Startup Weekend

by

This guest blog post was written by Nathan Taggart, CEO of LaunchSide, one of our Platinum sponsors. LaunchSide is a private development studio that builds revenue-driven, web-based businesses for themselves and their clients. They offer a unique model where they help underwrite the projects they work on by providing deeply reduced development costs in exchange for equity.

Launchside LogoAbout eighteen months ago, I participated in my first Portland Startup Weekend as a Mentor. At the time, my own company, LaunchSide, had just been accepted into the first class of the Portland Seed Fund and we were still figuring out how we fit into the startup ecosystem. I went to the event as a Mentor, but I took away so much that I felt a little guilty. That weekend I learned three things that have helped me grow my own startup and I think they are worth sharing.

First: You get what you give.

Startup Weekend is a LONG weekend. It’s easy to come with a lot of excitement and run out of energy as the weekend progresses. After all, 54 is a lot of hours. I’ve noticed the people who seem to get the most out of Startup Weekend (skills, connections, reputations, etc.) are the ones who give the most. They’re the ones who show up first and leave last. They take on the hard tasks. They hustle! Often times these people are NOT working on the project they pitched. They just found what needed to be done and did it. And they got a lot out of it. In fact, two of the friends I made at that event came, hustled, and later raised investments and built startups. Neither of them are working on the original idea they pitched at Startup Weekend. Whether it’s your goal to launch your own startup or not, you’ll get the most out of Startup Weekend if you give everything you’ve got.

Second: Everyone has a dream. Entrepreneurs make them real.

I love hearing the initial one-minute pitches given on the first day of Startup Weekend. It’s such a powerful reminder that EVERYONE has a dream, an idea, or something they’re just really interested in. And that’s really cool. It’s very exciting to know that everyone’s got something percolating in the back of their mind. Your idea just might change the world. But until you take the next step and turn that dream into reality, it’s not changing anything. At Startup Weekend, you will experience hundreds of young entrepreneurs taking action and turning dreams into reality. Not every idea gets picked, but that’s not what matters. What matters is the experience of rising to a challenge and meeting like-minded entrepreneurs. Seeing people share ideas, often for the first time, is really inspiring. Yes, it’s a little scary to do, but I’ve never once seen anyone criticized. Startup Weekend is about people working to make their dreams real. So if you’re kicking around an idea, maybe wondering if you should pitch it, please do! Start making it real.

Third: Everyone leaves with something.

Whether or not you pitch your idea, and whether or not your idea is picked, you will leave with something valuable. You’ll get a first-hand look at what it takes to start a company. Sometimes, it’s really hard. It’s usually still fun. It takes a lot of work, but every year I leave inspired. I remember being exhausted and invigorated the same time! It’s so much fun to break out of your routine, work on a new project, and share the excitement of building something new with a bunch of people who share your enthusiasm. This is why I’ve participated in every one of the last three Startup Weekends. This year I will be joined by my co-founder and three of our employees! I know firsthand how powerful this event is at reinvigorating entrepreneurs with new excitement and passion to bring into their other projects. I think you’re going to have a blast, and I expect that you’ll leave with something valuable.

A short, but shameless plug.

A lot has changed since my first Startup Weekend. My small startup, LaunchSide, now employs a team of entrepreneur-developers and online business veterans. We build, monetize, and help grow online businesses. We are taking new products into the market and helping companies achieve revenue-driven growth. LaunchSide works with startups, established companies launching new products, and online companies looking for fast growth. And we reinvest all of our profits into building new business ventures of our own.

LaunchSide is built out of a passion for entrepreneurship and a desire to be building businesses every day. We do this because we love it. If you share our passion, we’d love to talk to you. Send an email to jobs@launchside.com and introduce yourself. Or better yet, tell us about your next project at projects@launchside.com. Maybe we can help you make it real.

More can be found at: http://www.launchside.com, http://twitter.com/launchside, http://facebook.com/launchside.