A while ago I posted up about Leicester Startdom (Business Startup) Weekend so I thought I would share my experience of the weekend. It is something which should be of interest to anyone looking to start any sort business including inventors wanting to bring products to market, but who need to know how to test if their ideas are viable before plunging in time or cash.

Another FREE Startup Weekend running in Leicester on 27th June

There is another FREE Startdom Weekend running in Leicester on 27th June so if you want to learn how to start a business without wasting time and money check it out at Meetup.com. I am going again!

So what  happens at the Startdom Weekend?

The Friday Pitch (don’t worry it’s only if you want to)

On Friday I went to the building in Leicester known as Incubate, a hub designed to help new start-ups. The event started about 6 and up on the top floor there were about 20 chairs ready for people to arrive, people interested in starting a new business just like me. Things like this are always pretty daunting, so I found a friendly face and sat down. The evening was for anyone who wanted to to pitch a business idea – it didn’t have to be big or polished as long as you got the idea across. If you didn’t have an idea you wanted to pitch that was fine too.

The ideas were voted on by everyone taking part in the weekend and the ones with the most votes were chosen (mine was not  – quick sob! ). We could then choose which project we wanted to work on for the weekend. Ideas ranged from an online gift business, to recycling metal in computers to alcoholic beverages. And if that wasn’t enough for one night there was take-away pizza to eat too :).

Saturday – The Lean Canvas

We had to throw away any ideas we had of writing a big business plan and instead we learned about the lean canvas. The lean canvas is a sort of one page business plan designed to make you look at key areas of the business – assumed target market, biggest risks, who is your customer etc. One of the biggest things that I, and I  think most people are apprehensive of is that we had to find potential customers to talk to to find out if the idea was viable. Our team were working on a Beer idea so this meant talking to people in bars. Walking up to strangers to ask them questions is not something I or most people are very comfortable with, but it had to be done and no-one told us to “get lost”. You also learn what sort of questions you should ask – to ask questions only in the past ie. Do you drink beer, what sort of beer do you like etc. You shouldn’t ask things like “WOULD you drink this type of beer” as this is all guess work and often people say what they think you want to hear (or say yes to get rid of you).

Mentors

Imagine having access to several business mentors from all different types of business at your disposal to give their advice on how to progress the project (you can also get help with your own ideas too). That’s exactly what you get at the Startdom Weekend – and all for FREE!

Sunday Stick or Pivot the Business Idea

Sunday was a case at looking at the responses and revisiting the lean canvas to decide if the original idea was viable. If not, can you “bend” the idea a little or pivot as the call it in the world of Lean Startup to give the potential customer something they will want?

Overall Experience

I really enjoyed the weekend, as well as the tuition and mentors one of the things I enjoyed was having like-minded entrepreneurial people around me all with a common goal to start a new business.

There is another weekend running in Leicester on 27th June, check it out here http://ekonomiaconsultants.com/startdom-weekends/ I hope to meet you there!