This upcoming weekend, DojoBoost accelerator program will host a special edition of Startup Weekend Paris. The first of five (that’s right, FIVE) startup weekends that will happen in Paris this year, the first event of the year is a Tech Special Edition. The special event will consist of a high developer/designer-to-business ratio, and the talks and mentorship during the weekend will be about building. Fast. One of our mentors, Sacha Greif, knows a lot about designing fast, and will be offering teams his advice throughout the weekend.
The inspiration from this year’s special tech event came from the participants of last year’s event. Startup Weekend’s Social Entrepreneurship edition, which took place at ESCP Europe last October, had virtually no devs (though that may have been because it was scheduled for the same time as HackDayParis. Nonetheless, it seemed that there was such an interest by business school students to come and find their cofounder (fyi: the worst thing a developer wants to hear when he meets you) that developers just stopped coming. After all – who wants to spend their weekend having some grand ecole student tell them what to do? They probably do that Monday thru Friday.
So, when the organizers first met, we thought: “how can we make Startup Weekend attractive to developers again?” We had three thoughts:
- Make the event in English: Developers speak English. At least at a much higher proportion than the rest of France. They understand the global nature of startups much better, and thus understand the need to broadcast the event globally. With an English-language event, we open up visibility into France to the whole world, to see what 80 French startupers can do in a weekend.
- Restore balance to the force: While most French startupers read silicon valley blogs like bibles, somehow the “developers are worth their weight in gold” part seemed to escape the French ecosystem. That old notion of the business man in a suit who tells the developer monkey what to do is still far too present in France, both with developers and biz guys. In order to adjust this a bit, we wanted to make developers the center of attention at Startup Weekend. We made the event tech-oriented, but we also drastically adjusted the proportions of developers/designers to biz guys. With this, not only to developers have a larger voice in each group, but they will have to see the value of the biz guy as well. They can code all weekend, but if they don’t pitch well and have a decent business model, they won’t win.
- Get Ride of Professional StartupWeekenders: The very fact that this term exists in the startup community tells you that there is a problem. Normally signed up as business/marketing people, the same faces have been seen by mentors and judges at several startup weekend events all over France, and it seems to go against the nature of startup weekend. They attend with the hope of “winning” – this upcoming startup weekend will have very little prizes, other than the joy of knowing you’ve created something great in 54 hours.
- Show Developers that We Care: We want Startup Weekend to return to the place for developers go to explore their creative side, to pursue their passion, to build great things. Developers are the backbone of tech startups, and earning their respect needs to be a priority.
So why the 200 euro tickets for Biz Guys?
So that leads us to the big question: 200 euros for Startup Weekend tickets!? Last week, with over 50 developers and designers already signed up (we verify every startup that signs up), we opened up ten business & marketing tickets to the public – they went in three minutes. There were another twenty five people in the process of purchasing their ticket, and over the next few hours, tweets and emails came in telling us that people were upset that tickets sold out “while they were in class.”
We realized that, not only was their a high demand for business and marketing tickets, but that if we opened the tickets up at a random time, that it would be a ‘random’ assortment of experience, instead of the quality that we want to bring to the event. By putting tickets at an arguably high price, we are able to see who is really interested in coming to the event.
Of course, we can’t do this for every event, but it is a great way to assure that developers will be working with motivated, passionate business people, instead of ‘profesional startup weekenders.’ We hope to bring back the quality to startup weekend – and I’m not talking the quality of startups produced by the weekend. Of course, that is a great byproduct, but the 54 hours are meant to import as much knowledge upon young entrepreneurs as possible – how to work with others, how to manage time, how to do market studies, create mvps, pitch an idea. These are things that all entrepreneurs will have to do, and getting a feel for them in a fun. familiar environment is a great way to turnout well-educated, motivated startupers. And that’s the real measure of quality at Startup Weekend.