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Startup Weekend: From go to CEO in 54 hours

A mish-mash of humanity, all dedicated to startup insanity.

Startup Weekend: A mish-mash of humanity, all dedicated to startup insanity.

I am an entrepreneur. Not really, but sort of. More accurately … I was. Then I missed my window.

I am the co-founder of POPhone, the bronze medal winner at Auckland Startup Weekend. What does that mean? Not much till we get cracking and list the company on NASDAQ. 

In the meantime, I am helping organise the inaugural Wellington Startup Weekend, and it’s looking hot. But even hotter is my own lust for life this Nov 4-6 because it is a dynamic place to be.

A medley of entrepreneur-heads, unshaven coder gurus, designers in $800 sneakers, and those all too random mentor types – the room is going to be a mish-mash of humanity all dedicated to startup insanity.

It’s quite mad to think you can come up with a business in 54 hours.  Then I watched a bunch of sleep-deprived individuals do just that. Including myself.

Cracking an idea into a business is not hard. You just need to convince someone to pay you for your idea.

You can do this in a variety of ways:

a) Be super clever and coming up with the innovation to rock the nation

b) Be super slick and repackage something not so unique to look like a damn fine idea

c) Craft a sorta-crafty idea somewhere in between those two, and use designers in $800 sneakers to make it look incredible or some fantastic business model to make it incredibly lucrative.   

POPhone was a classic C. We didn’t have a pair of diamante-studded velvet New Balance sneaks or much of a swanky business model, but we pitched it well. A super-simple safe smart phone application to enable parents to control their child’s mobile behaviour from the first time they get a phone. It was a better punt than those out there and POPhone got the nod from a few judges.

All of a sudden I was an entrepreneur, had a business partner, a roomful of potential investors (and one potential competitor who asked about our IP protection strategy) and it had only taken 54 hours. Well less than, actually, as I had cheekily slept AND watched the All Blacks v France pool game in a nearby pub. I was in the rhythm. Yeah, NASDAQ here we come.

I went back to work on Monday, smug from having gone from zero to CEO in 54 hours, and did nothing about POPhone other than show it off round the office.

Then a contact flicked me the link to threedomphone.com. Dumb name. But worse? Somebody had ALREADY ripped off our idea. It was POPhone turned upside down. Who’d have thought? It works. I could have been a startup entrepreneur after all.     

The Startup Trident of Wisdom: Zero to CEO at Startup Weekend

1. Execution and planning are the two biggest must haves.

2. Your idea is merely a blueprint for change.

3. If you want to do it, you have to DO it.

Nick Churchouse is venture manager at CreativeHQ, which is organising Startup Weekend Wellington with Webfund, BizDojo, and IWantMyName.

The inaugural Wellington Startup Weekend is on this week from November 4-6. The room will be crammed with entrepreneurs and mentors trading advice on how to get a team around an idea and turn it into a business fast. Here’s the last in a series on the quintessential elements of startup success.

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