Startup Weekend is a three-day event where attendees build a business within 54 hours. Between 50 and 80 people show up on Friday afternoon and by Sunday evening, teams have formed, developed an idea, validated the market, and begun taking customers. It is an excellent exercise for anyone with an interest in cultivating business skill.
My role in both the 2015 and 2016 Startup Weekend events in Dunedin centred around marketing. The challenge in marketing Startup Weekend events is communicating the value of the weekend, which requires intense commitment and leaves attendees with few tangible benefits. Tickets cost $100 each and participants’ investments are returned in the form of education, real-world practice, access to mentors, and introductions to other members of the startup community.
Both Startup Weekend events I was involved with in Dunedin sold out.
I achieved this by infiltrating existing communities that were high in concentrations of designers, developers, and other people with business skill. Influencer marketing proved to be very effective, with pre-written EDM and blog content sent to several organisations who then distributed them to their audiences. A similar tactic was implemented with social media audiences. I have used this strategy successfully with events like TEDxDunedin and Lightning Lab Christchurch.
No money was spent on advertising.
Throughout the duration of the event I posted a steady stream of photographs and updates to Startup Weekend’s social media. My team started conversations and Jason Beck, MC, encouraged attendees to participate. The #SWDuD hashtag was trending second place on Twitter in New Zealand.
Relationships formed at these Startup Weekends led to several successful startups which received 6-figure investments.
I found that most effective method of marketing was content provided to influencers. Many of these organisations had values and objectives which aligned with Startup Weekend and were happy to promote the cause to their audiences.
Want to build a rocket? Start at Startup Weekend Dunedin
The other day, I tuned in to an HD live stream of a SpaceX rocket launching and landing. As I watched a masterpiece of technology erupt in flames, I thought, “This is exactly what Startup Weekend is for.”
If building a business is on your bucket list...
If building a business is on your bucket list, tick it off this Friday at Startup Weekend Dunedin, a 54 hour event where you will learn how to build a business by building it.