The main reason I’m in USA is for facilitating this weekend’s Seattle Startup weekend, arriving here in Seattle late Wednesday night after a roadtrip up from San Francisco w/ Attila. The energy has been extreme – about 130 entrepreneurs checked in – overbooked with 80 on the waiting list!
I’ll have to be honest, I was a bit nervous, being a facilitator in the USA Headquarters startup weekend with all eyes on me Friday night. Thursday I spent the day working alongside the team in the sweet new office they have here. Discussing how events in China have been, how to better support the organizers in Shenzhen and other city events.
Friday afternoon getting the venue setup for the big upcoming weekend. It took place in Makers, a new coworking space in the city that still isn’t open to the public. Sweet space, they have ikea-style tables with tabletops made out of a cut up old basketball court. Tons of open space with a good mix of small breakout rooms for some teams to hideout in.
Friday night I was MC and had an easy time getting the already excited and creative entrepreneurs ready to rock the weekend! Keith, the operations guru behind Startup Weekend, had a new ppt deck for the startup weekend facilitators to go over, and we explained the startup weekend concept, history, global and local sponsors, organizers, and rules.
Getting into pitchfire (where entrepreneurs pitch – sell – their idea to the audience in order to get votes and be selected as a team) – we had maybe 70 or more people lining up to sell their idea. It was amazing. Format was a bit different from past weekends, but I don’t think any weekend has been quite the same, this being my 6th weekend!
We spent a couple more hours Friday night pairing up teams, and by Saturday afternoon checkin we had 18 startups, as below (with my best effort to describe the teams in my own quick words):
- sportswith – private social network to talk more openly with friends, based around sporting events.
- slakr – students can share notes online to each other.
- autobelly – help give car financing opportunities to those who are not as privileged
- we the people – crowdsourcing to help political campaigns finance from the people, rather than top-down
rep the nation –
infolio – 1 central location to represent all your social media stats.
2nd opinion –
social chaos – violate your neighbors 4square checkin mayorships.
build ballot – get critical feedback from your target market / audience.
table surfing – “couchsurfing” for meals.
10 exposures – photo sharing, but only your 10 best pics (per instance)
mobile conbon – virtual sticky notes on your phone.
frend lend / friend debt – keep track of friends lending to friends
bully buster – protect geeks in school
kinetics academy – games to help children with autism
teeming – social media platform to help find relevant business partners and industry experts.
twobox cloud – cloud based service like amazon web services.
Again, I can’t help but compare to my experiences in Hong Kong and Shenzhen startup weekends . This is much more professional, with a full team of organizers and volunteers. This is their 9th startupwekend in Seattle, and the startup community is pretty well established.
Slowly but surely we are getting there in Shenzhen, China – takes time to get the community and entrepreneurs to understan the purpose, build trust within each other and in the overall community and environment.
As of Saturday night, typing this, I am totally stoked – meeting the USA headquarters startup weekend team, learning how its done, and getting even more confidence I know what I am doing.
There is huge opportunity in building up bridges between USA and China startups and entrepreneurs. Coming to this massively successful Seattle startupweekend is a huge step in the right direction.
I’m heading back to China on Tuesday morning, equipped with more network, experience, and confidence to kick butt!