West Palm Beach Startup Weekend – Day 1

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 400 past events in 100 countries around the world in 2011.

Organizing a Startup Weekend in West Palm Beach broke new ground and was sold out at 100 entrepreneurs and coaches signing up. About 140 people attended the opening event at the Pavilion at the West Palm Beach waterfront. There was standing room only.

Startup Weekend West Palm Beach was SOLD OUT!
Startup Weekend West Palm Beach was SOLD OUT!

Chris Callahan and Nick Mohnacky, founders of Startup Palm Beach and the organizers of Startup Weekend were the first speakers. Brimming with energy they ran onto stage and got everyone pumped for the next 3 days of Entrepreneurs.

Chris Callahan and Nick Monhacky opening things up!
Chris Callahan and Nick Monhacky opening things up!

Akhil Nigam “JFDI” –  Just *****ing Do It

Akhil Nigam is the founder of Mass Challenge, the largest accelerator in the US discussed his experience with startups. We discussed why people want to be entrepreneurs, how to build a team & other topics.


The #1 reason that startups fail is because of the Founders. If you’re not talking to your cofounder in 6 months nothing is going to happen. Talked about the first employees – quality is everything, “Look at the team that you’ve assembled around you”

Rules startups should live by:

  1. Sell with passion – Always be Selling
  2. Execution! There’s no room for philosophers – JFDI Just *****ing Do It
  3. Iterate and get feedback – talk to clients & get feedback.

Games – Let’s get warmed up with Half-Baked

Once the speaking was done, the startup weekend teams needed to get up. “Half-baked” is a game that simulates coming up with an idea and pitching it to a group. Here’s how it works.

Teams were created and given random words to use in a pitch – after picking a “leader” the group then has to come up with a product using the words given to them and then come up with a pitch to give to the group. Like many most startups, things don’t always go according to plan – we were spun a curve ball half way through with having to use a new word.

Our team-captain Chris organizing our pitch for "Half-Baked"
Our team-captain Chris organizing our pitch for “Half-Baked”

All the pitches were smart, funny and got everyone warmed up for the main event.

The Pitches!

The main event of the evening were pitches delivered by over 50 attendees. The pitches were delivered in a “RapidFire” format with each attendee given 1 minute to explain the product.

Pitches were varied from MyCollageJob which connected people in collage with people who were looking for help with small jobs, to StyleMe a system where people would vote on how stylish your selfies are, to Yo! App an app that will help people around the world get the attention of Bar Tenders and order drinks.

John and Tara Husband pitching WeedUp - a Medical Marijuana startup
John and Tara Husband pitching WeedUp – a Medical Marijuana startup

The “Market Research”

After all the pitches were done the top 17 startup ideas were voted on. My Startup was Yo! App, and I made it through to the next round! After building a fantastic team we headed out to Bar Louie to do some “Market Research” and learn more about the bar industry and validate our business model. We got some valuable insight and flushed out the features of our app.


Recruiting Suzanne to be one of our Yo! App advisors
Recruiting Suzanne to be one of our Yo! App advisors

Getting ready for day 2! Saturday starts up at 8am and with our market research going till 1:30 in the morning, it was time to head home and get some shut eye before the hard work of developing our startup begins.

This blog entry is day 14 of my 30-Day blogging challenge where I have committed to post a blog every day.

Please read the previous blog entries in this series:

Day 14: Startup Weekend and West Palm Beach as a Technology Hub
Day 13: Dreyfoos in White is Tonight – Location will be announced at 5pm
Day 12: Inside the Palm Healthcare Foundation in Downtown West Palm Beach on Diabetes Week
Day 11: Honoring our Veterans on Clematis Street – the West Palm Beach Parade!
Day 10: Muses & Visionaries – M&V Magazine & a short chat with Roy Assad
Day 9: What does diversity mean to you? WebMonday & bringing everyone in!
Day 8: Weekend is almost here – Fun things to do in West Palm Beach
Day 7: J. Flynn opening on Clematis – this is an Irish Gastropub, it’s all about the food.
Day 6: Why every small business owner should read the Costco Connection
Day 5: Bee Organics – The new organic café and “lifestyle space” in Downtown West Palm Beach
Day 4: Introducing BarCamp Palm Beach – Monday the 18th of November
Day 3: My top 5 Beaches in Palm Beach County
Day 2: City of West Palm Beach Chili Cookoff
Day 1: It’s November, and I’m Starting the 30-Day Blogging Challenge!