Build a World-Changing Startup in Three Days at a Startup Weekend!

Build a World-Changing Startup in Three Days at a Startup Weekend!

What is Startup Weekend?

If you want a taste of building a startup but don’t know where or how to start, or if you have a crazy idea in your head but haven’t thought about execution, then Startup Weekend is for you!

Startup Weekend is a three-day entrepreneurial activity challenging you to meet people, brainstorm ideas, define problems, validate solutions, brainstorm ideas, define problems, validate solutions, brainstorm ideas, define problems, validate solutions… it keeps on going. Does it sound a little hard? Maybe but you also get to work with others, pitch and have fun!

How does it work?

Friday (aka day 1)

Pitch-fire! You have around a minute to deliver an elevator pitch to get the audience interested in your idea.

Recommended pitch format:

  • Who are you and what is your background? (5-10 Seconds)
  • What is the problem that your product is solving? Or, begin with a story (10-20 Seconds)
  • Explain the product and how it solves the problem (10-20 seconds)
  • Who do you need on your team? (a developer, marketing, designer?) (5-10 seconds)
  • Finally, make up a name for your startup so the facilitator can give it a title – QUT CEA

After that, you should vote for your favourite teams. It accelerates team forming and shows initial validation (of ideas). However, if your idea/your favourite idea is not selected, you can still recruit people or join a team to get enough members.

Once the team is formed, you will be working on that idea over the weekend. Besides, people say Startup Weekend is not about the idea(s), but the team!

You are more likely to win if you are in a diverse team. It is not only about finding people with different skill sets (Business, UX & Tech) but also working with people who are different to you, such as different age group, gender, nationality, cultural background. People with different life-experiences will lead to different perspectives and better outcomes.


Before you go to bed, think about what your strengths are and how they contribute to the team.

Want to win Startup Weekend? Try making sales in the next two days!



Basically, it is a whole day for team building. Before you start working, make sure that you are aware of the free resources, such as the free domain, prototype tools or cloud service, etc… that the host organisation is offering.

From my experience, it is good to spend more time on the Business Model Canvas on Saturday morning.

Business Model Canvas: Instead of building the whole business plan, use business model canvas to analyse customer segment, value proposition, channels, customer relationships, revenues stream, key actives, key resources, key partners and cost structure on paper.

When your opinions and ideas are different from others, don’t just stick with yours. Be patient, listen, reflect and discuss it collaboratively.

Understand the judging criteria and always reference it. The criteria should have a strong relationship with the Business Model Canvas e.g., Validation, Execution, Business Model, Sustainability etc.

Start doing market evaluation as early as possible. Find the potential users and customers and ask questions. It is no harm to post your survey forms on your social media. Don’t be ashamed to do market research on the street if needed!

Remember what your strengths are and do the stuff you are good at.

There should be a mentoring session in the afternoon. One of the lessons I have learnt is that you don’t have to (and shouldn’t)  change the whole idea because of the feedback from a mentor. Yes, the mentor may have some experience in a certain area, however, believe that your team has come up with the idea for a reason. Take the advice and always refer back to the Business Model Canvas and Judging criteria.

If you don’t have the prototype by the end of the day, no worries. It is more worthwhile getting your market right 🙂



It is time to put all the pieces together and prepare your presentation.

The pitch and slides (along with the prototype) summarise your work and the effort you have put in during the weekend. Check out Guy Kawasaki’s blog post “The only 10 slides you’ll need in your pitch” to prepare for your pitch:

Also, don’t forget the tech check! (ensuring that your laptop works with the projector, that you can use a microphone, etc.)

For some teams, “panic time” means the two hours before the pitches start. It is alright if you are not ready. Pitch what you have.

Remember, Startup Weekend is not about what you have done, but about what you have learnt.

Enjoy your pitch!


UQ Weekend of Startups

Coming up, in Brisbane!

The UQ Weekend of Startups (10-12 August) is open to students, staff and the greater Brisbane community and is just three short weeks away!

This is a fantastic opportunity for you to gain a taste for what it’s like to create your own business and gain an understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur through networking, mentorship and hands-on experience.




About the author:

Ocean Cheung is the co-founder and managing director of Startup Interns. He connects international students and the wide startups community in Queensland, Australia.

He has participated the Startup Weekend from Techstars in both Australia and Hong Kong. His team won the Startup Weekend PolyU 2018 in Hong Kong.