I had been waiting for it for months, ever since I saw some buzz around an event in Oslo earlier that year. Then one day, there it was. A friend of mine had posted about it on facebook. There was no doubt in my mind, the 400 NOK for the student ticket was worth the investment. Launching a startup in 54 hours. How could that be possible? My curiosity told me that this was worth finding out.
The next weeks held excitement and waiting. I kept asking my friend, who was one of the organisers, about how to prepare and what to expect from the event. He did not have any clear answers. He just ensured me that it would be fun, that there were no knowledge requirements and that I would most definitely learn something.
Finally, it was time for the first Startup Weekend Bergen! All my curiosity and excitement would get its answers. At 17:00 on a friday, I did a turn to the right into Rosenkrantzgaten, took a deep breath and entered the venue. Little did I know that the adventure I were to embark on this very weekend, would change my life forever.
Entering the room I were happy to find a few people I knew from school also attending the event. However, most people attending did not know each other from before. After game of Half baked, rock-paper-scissors and dinner mingling, it was time to start pitching. Attendees lined up to take the stage for 60 seconds to try convincing people to vote for their idea and join their team.
I ended up joining a team that wanted to develop an online game that would require people to interact in real life. The idea were based on the game Mafia. We started out to be eight team members and came out of the weekend as six.
The project were cursed from the beginning. We started out with an enormous vision, and spent too much time doodling around the first evening to get everyone onboard this vision. The following day, first, one group member decided to jump ships. Then our main developer got “bought” up by another team. Our team name made the change from “Dragonfly Mafia” to “Murder my friends” based on some very thoughtful advice from some of the mentors. We struggled to use our time right and finish the sunday presentation in time. It was all a chaos!
Obviously, my team did not win the competition. We did not even receive any prices after sunday night presentations. Still it felt like winning. It was the single best real life business in action experience I ever had. Never before or after have I ever learned that much in 54 hours. Most importantly I were told that failing is nothing to be ashamed of and an important ingredient in success. Andrew Scott, one of the speakers, stood in front of us, proud to tell us about all the times he had failed. I had never heard anyone brag about their failures before. This was something completely new, and it changed my thinking.
I loved the speed of things at Startup Weekend. That it allowed us to get down to action and actually do stuff, compared to uni where most things were all about listening, strategising and planning. I had started to figure it out. What I wanted to do in my life. For sure a lot have happened afterwards that have played part of bringing me where I am today, but this weekend was what pushed me in the right direction.
Since this weekend, I have been attendee, mentor and organiser at several Startup Weekends. In Bergen, Stavanger and Oslo. This lead me to my current job of running Startup Norway together with Maja. I now live in the uncertainty, chaos and endless excitement of running a startup. It’s filled with frustration, worries, hard work, little sleep, sore necks and what more, mixed with joy, great victories, euphoric moments, and whole hearted laughs. A roller coaster most people never dare or get the chance to climb onto. Me, I would never have had it any other way.
I can not guarantee you that you will win, or that you’ll be part of a startup after the weekend just from buying the ticket and going to a Startup weekend. What I can promise however, is that you will learn a lot more and probably something different than what you expected. There isn’t anything you could do to be prepared for the craziness of what goes down these weekends. Just be up for an adventure!
The next Startup Weekend Oslo is October 10th – 12th. I dare you to give it a try. What is the worst that could happen?