Startup Mixer Kiev: rock-n-roll
This past weekend we have our first Startup Mixer event in Kiev, where teams were supposed to build and launch their product idea in 48 hours.
Here are my opinions on the event and our future plans. If you’re interested in other people’s opinion please follow #doumixer on Twitter.
We had a great event and definitely the first of this kind in Ukraine. There were about 80 participants, 16 projects and almost a dozen mentors who were helping the teams.
It was really cool to have guys from Garage48 (Estonia) and Startup Sauna (Finland) who bring inspiration and experience with them.
Mixer showed that there are lots of talented people who are interested and keen on participating. That’s great. But I feel we could have done much better and the purpose of this post is to discuss the thing we’ll do different next time.
Mentoring session on Friday
Having a first mentoring session
Next time we’ll kill such ideas on Friday’s night so the participants still have time to re-group and find a better idea or join another team.
Pressure on teams
I think like many teams didn’t feel the pressure and thus didn’t work as efficient as they could. I mean, on our DOU hackathons we have seen done more in 24 hours than here in 48 hours.
We want the team to feel real pressure to perform, just like real startups do.
Next time we’ll have limited number of projects that will be accepted in on Friday’s night and we’ll have clear rules to disqualify teams on checkpoint if they aren’t deliver.
More mentoring time
Since we have way too much projects/teams we couldn’t spend enough time mentoring each of them. Next time there will definitely be a limit on the number of teams and thus each team will get a fair chunk of mentoring time.
It is probably a good idea to designate one of the mentors to each team so they can talk with him/her any time they need help.
No Powerpoint on Sunday’s DEMO
It was our mistake to use the word “presentation” which confused everyone and people spend time preparing a slideshow instead of working on their product. My fault.
Next time we’ll make it clear. No Powerpoint and you can’t use your own laptop. You’ll have to demo using the browser we have on our org machine.
Presentation skills can be taught and learnt, just like any skill. Next time we’ll have designated time to work with each team *before* the DEMO so that they will do a better job.
The same can be said about Friday’s evening. We can do say a Skype webinar the day before to explain to participants what is expected out of them and how they can prepare.
Most of the teams lacked a good UI/design in their product which is a big issue. You’re judged by the cover, especially in a fast-paced environment like the Startup Mixer.
We’re thinking about having a couple of really great designers who we’ll be onsite throughout the event and help the team to create an awesome look&feel.
More balanced teams
It is probably a good idea to require certain mix of people in each team. E.g. require minimum size of team is three with one back-end developer, one front-end developer/designer and one bizdev/sales/marketing person.
Garage48 in May
I am very happy to announce that in May we’ll do a joint event with Garage48.org!
Garage48 has done a dozens event like Startup Mixer throughout the world and they have great expertise and plugged in with Seedcamp, Silicon Valley and lots of other startup hubs.
It would be huge and I’m proud and excited that Startup Mixer helped us to get it going.