4 Things I Learned from Startup Weekend Jackson

Darren

Design Partner

Three weeks ago, I spent the weekend at the first Startup Weekend Jackson, hosted locally by the Mississippi Technology Alliance. From 70 attendees, 35 pitched ideas and formed teams, and 8 completed products, business plans, and presentations. I’m proud to have been a part of the winning team. You can learn more about our product at the Gotcha Universe website. It was a grueling weekend: Friday night until 1am, all day Saturday and all day Sunday. Working that intensively on the product, however, taught me many lessons.

Gotcha Universe Startup Weekend team

From left: Nick, Christian, Tyler, Marlon, and me

Focus

We wear many hats at Creative Distillery, so in any day I might be working on a design project, talking with potential clients, connecting with contractors, or doing a press check at a print shop. On top of that is the constant barrage of information from social media sites. Startup Weekend gave me a structure to spend the entire weekend thinking and working on one thing. Digging into a topic that deeply allowed me to get through the initial ideas to the more nuanced and realized results. My takeaway is that I’ll structure my day so that I’m able to have longer blocks of time with each project.

Teamwork

The team at Startup Weekend was very talented. Nick and Marlon had created an excellent product in Gotcha Universe. Tyler brought a business perspective that helped us articulate the future potential of the product. Christian’s mix of on-the-ground marketing and big-picture ideas continues to help the product grow. My own experience with deliverables and branding helped nail the right image for the product and tell the story through the presentation content and slides that contributed to our winning first place.

At Creative Distillery, we’re always looking for ways to blend our own unique talents and disciplines into the best work for our clients to help them most effectively achieve their goals. As we begin to grow our team through ourselves and our contractors, I’ll take the experiences from Startup Weekend with me.

Gotcha Universe logo

The Gotcha Universe logo I designed on the Saturday of Startup Weekend Jackson.

Presentation

Oftentimes, we’re in one-on-one positions in meetings with client decisionmakers. To really explain what we can do for clients while geting into the details of budgets, goals, etc., this is a good structure. However, there’s also value in presenting to large groups. There were several opportunities throughout the weekend to do public speaking, and I felt my confidence grow each time. After all of the work we did in the weekend, the only thing the judges saw was the final presentation. It was important that we articulate the product, use real data to demonstrate that there’s an audience for it, and show how the product will become profitable. We had to tell that story in five minutes and find a balance between what could be communicated via our slide and what could be communicated out loud. After rehearsals with the stopwatch and slides, we felt confident in our delivery, and the results proved beneficial.

What I’ll take away from this is to seek out more opportunities for myself to do public speaking in front of crowds. I’ll also have a better understanding over the balance between slides and what’s being communicated out loud during a presentation.

Business

Our most successful clients are entrepreneurs and nonprofit directors who are charismatic, passionate leaders. They have a vision based around their product or mission and have assembled many logistical pieces to make it a reality. They’ve recognized the need for branding for their business and have (smartly!) decided to come to us. We partner deeply with our clients and develop a true set of shared goals. But ultimately, our relationship is one of vendor to client. Participating in Startup Weekend Jackson left me with a much greater understanding of startup culture through the eyes of the entrepreneur.

As an entrepreneur myself through Creative Distillery, there’s a lot to learn about remaining profitable as we look to expand. I’ll take away a new set of tools and approaches in order to make our business more successful.

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