Startup Weekend Singapore 2016 — Idea to winning
For those who don’t know, startup weekend is an event where you get 54 hours on a weekend to build your product. In this year’s event in Singapore, my team won the 1st prize! When the judges announced our team as the winner, we all were surprised. Because none of us were there to win. All we wanted to do is build a prototype for a problem we all faced. When we won, it got me thinking that why did the judges chose us. So I came up with these points that we think helped us win and in general is also applicable to any startup or product.
1. Solving your own problem
When you read stories of how Facebook, Uber, Airbnb etc. started you will find that the common thing is that all those founders were trying to solve a problem which they faced themselves. We also started with a problem that each of us has faced in our lives. Booking barbecue pits and other facilities in our condominiums. So we came up with — comunitat. A simple facilities booking app which allows residents to see availability of a facility and book it by paying the booking fees online via stripe.
2. Staying focused
As the event started, all the teams were instructed that in order to win, we need to show how big our idea can become (aka scale). All the teams where busy finding out how they would scale their business. On the other hand, our idea was not scalable from day one. We were only targeting Singapore which has close to 17,000 condominiums. Our team only focussed on 1) how to get all these condos on our platform (getting their management committee to sign up) and 2) how to keep the application simple and clutter free for the resident users.
3. Focus on solution, not on winning
We knew that what we are doing may not seem like a big billion dollar idea to the judges and so we might not have a chance to win. But our goal was to just build something in those 54 hours and try to validate the concept during the weekend. We thought that if we can do that, and if there is market, we can continue building it later. We were so confident of not winning that we were booking cabs during the final presentation so that we can go home as soon as possible and get some sleep (after 36 hours of non stop work)
4. Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS)
KISS is a well known principle in software engineering. We applied that to our product. We wanted to build the simplest thing possible that would allow us to validate the idea and solve the core problem. The simplicity was clearly visible in the MVP we built and in our presentation deck. Judges did mention in the end that our clean presentation and minimalist UI of the MVP gave us some extra point
5. A great team
We were lucky to find the perfect team of 1 entrepreneur (Idir Hillali), 1 hustler (Alex Silaev), 1 mobile app developer (Amos Choo), 1 designer (Mohammed Pitolwala) and 1 full stack developer (me). We all had very clear roles since the start and did not waste any time in deciding who will do what. It is a proven fact that with the right people you can do wonders. I guess we had the right team and it did help us win the 1st prize. If you are going for a hackathon or a startup weekend in your city, keep these things in mind and hopefully it will help you win. See you next year in Startup Weekend Singapore 2017
Note: We also won 1st prize in Startup Weekend Singapore 2017 :). We followed the same principles and that helped us win second time in a row. Though the team was different (except Mohammed & myself)