Questions & Answers
What's it all about?
Is this event for me?
If you are interested in entrepreneurship the answer is most likely yes. Techstars Startup Weekend attendee backgrounds are roughly 50% technical (developers, coders, designers) and 50% business (marketing, finance, law). Whether you are a serial entrepreneur or new to the startup scene, if you motivated to build a product or startup and open to new ideas you’ll fit right in.
Do I have to participate all three days?
Apart from Organizers, selected Coaches, Speakers, and press, everyone who attends the event is expected to participate all three days. This is important not only to preserve the ‘vibe’ of the weekend (“no talk, all action”) but also to minimize distractions/disruptions for working teams. However, at most Techstars Startup Weekends a “Sunday Presentations Only” registration option is available for those wishing to only view the teams’ final presentations. (Please check the registration page of your city’s website for availability.)
Do I need a team?
Everyone who attends the event as an attendee is expected to participate in a team. This is important not only to preserve the mission of Techstars Startup Weekend (teamwork!) but also to minimize distractions/disruptions for all working teams.
Do I have to pitch an idea to attend?
No, but we encourage you to! You can pitch an idea you've been thinking about for years or something last minute you think of during the event. It's a great experience and invaluable practice for public speaking.
What should I bring?
Bring lots of energy! A laptop, business cards, a power cord, etc.
How do I prepare?
Think about what type of business you'd like to pitch. Do some research. Understand the problem you are trying to solve so you can communicate that with others. Practice your pitch. You'll have 60 seconds to persuade other attendees to join your team. Make it clear, concise, and convincing!
What is the refund policy?
The short answer is we issue refunds until November 4th so that organizers can order and plan for food and supplies. After that, tickets are transferable.
Bring a friend! Events are better with good company.
What happens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday?
Friday: Participants arrive between 6-7 PM, begin networking, and grab dinner. After an ice-breaking game and a short introduction, the “Pitchfire” will commence: anyone intending to pitch will have 60 seconds to give their best pitch. No presentations or props needed for Friday, it will just be you and a mic. After pitches are finished, all attendees will vote on their favorite ideas. The top ideas will be selected to be worked on over the weekend. Before the end of the night, you will pick your teams, brainstorm and prepare for the weekend.
Saturday: Doors open at 9 am with coffee and light breakfast. Teams will work all day, with the occasional breaks, lunch, and dinner and to listen to 1-2 short talks to help you throughout the process. Coaches will be circulating to provide advice in the field of their expertise for those teams that want it.
Sunday: Doors open at 9 am again and teams will work uninterrupted from morning until mid-afternoon. You should begin wrapping up product/prototype, marketings, and presentation around 3-4 PM to do tech-checks and practice their pitches/demonstration. Final presentations will begin around 5:30 and end around 7:30. Each team typically has 5 minutes plus 2-3 minutes Q&A from the judges (this varies based on number of teams) The judges will select the top teams & give out prizes
What types of ideas can I pitch?
Any business ideas are eligible (whether for profit, ‘social’ businesses, nonprofit organizations, etc.) Think Big. Approximately 90% of all ideas are tech-focused, and given the short time-frame, we strongly recommend that even non-tech ideas focus on a deliverable (i.e., a website) to be completed by Sunday.
Can I pitch more than one idea?
Depending on the number of ideas pitched and the schedule, you may or may not be able to pitch multiple ideas. Prioritize your ideas: pitch your best idea (and the one you have most prepared for) first.
Can I pitch my existing business?
No. Startup Weekend is designed to be the most effective platform for growing new ideas from the ground up over the course of a weekend. A key facet of the weekend - and a central value for participants - is the spirit of complete collaboration, buy-in, and ownership. We’ve found that having existing businesses in the mix undermines this spirit, in addition to creating an imbalance between those ideas that are truly ground-level.
How do I protect against people stealing my idea?
The short answer is that you can’t. If you’re very concerned, you can limit your pitch to the rough outline of the idea without giving away key information. The longer answer is that this is not something worth worrying about. Unless you are confident your idea is a ‘key-in-hand’, easy-to-implement innovation that hasn’t been thought of yet, the advantages gained from getting broad-based feedback and a strong team motivated by collective ownership far outweigh the remote risks of someone stealing and executing on your idea. The truth is that over 90% of ideas pitched at any given Startup Weekend have already been pitched - probably many times - in the past. This doesn’t imply that the idea isn’t a good one, but rather that what truly matters is how well you and your team execute the idea. “One can steal ideas, but no one can steal execution or passion”
What if my idea doesn’t get selected?
The purpose of the Friday voting and crowdsourcing isn’t to exclude certain ideas, but simply to highlight the most popular and high-potential pitches and end up with a manageable number of teams - ensuring that each team has a variety of backgrounds and skills. If your idea isn’t selected but you’ve formed a team (a team is 3 or more people) around the idea, you’re welcome to work on it over the weekend. If you decide to do so, however, please tell the event Organizer.
How do teams address the issue of Intellectual Property/ownership?
As with any startup, the team decides. Techstars doesn’t support or take part in the signing of any legal documents at the events themselves, and while Mentors with legal backgrounds are often present and able to give general advice, they are not permitted to give specific legal counsel. While it doesn’t hurt to be clear about your individual expectations from the start, we’ve found that teams who don’t spend time addressing this issue until it actually matters (i.e., there is a tangible product to have ownership of) are much more productive and successful than those who do.
What are we supposed to have accomplished by the end of the weekend?
While there are no specific requirements in terms of what teams should have accomplished by Sunday, it’s in your best interest to plan your execution around what you’ll be judged for on Sunday:
Customer Validation (did you vet your business?)
Execution and Design (what did you build?)
Business Model (do you have a plan for the future?)
As far as presenting goes, some of the most common presentations include any combination of the following (in no particular order):
Wireframes or fully developed website;
Mobile Apps (from mock-ups to skeletons to fully functional)
Slide decks (Powerpoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.)
Videos (i.e. product demonstrations, etc.)
Live product demos
Why is it a competition?
Competition is not a central theme of Techstars Startup Weekend, and this is often reflected in the broad, horizontal allocation of prizes and general flexibility/leniency of the event ‘rules.’ If and when the competitive aspect comes into conflict with the positive atmosphere we try to cultivate, we consistently choose the latter. We do believe, however, that friendly competition is beneficial to all parties and, most importantly, more accurately reflects the realities of startup life. Just as it’s important to gather ‘real-world’ feedback over the weekend, it’s also important to have real-world pressures and obstacles.
Are teams expected to continue after the event?
Whether or not you continue to work on the idea with some or all of your team is completely up to you. Approximately 10% of Startup Weekend Charleston participants continue working on their idea with some or all of their team.
I love Startup Weekend! How can I get more involved?
We love you, too! One of the beautiful things about Techstars Startup Weekend is that just about anybody can get involved, provided you are in it for the right reasons: to build communities and create startups. We can always use more help in organizing the event. Please email for more info.
What kind of support can Techstars Startup Weekend provide to help my team launch?
Techstars Startup Weekend primarily focuses on the entry point of entrepreneurship, but our support and community span much farther beyond the weekend. Whether you are looking for more events in your city (Startup Digest), guidance for investing and mentorship (Startup Next) or a place to accelerate your business, we’re here to help anyway we can. Visit Techstars.com to learn more.