Startup Weekend, the cheapest training with free food!

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When I discussed the organisation with Burak Yaman, before the start of Startup Weekend Istanbul, we decided to focus on the food. Thanks to him we had the venue, Koç Incubator, so that important part was covered. Food was the second focus. All credits go to Mine, our Chief Disruption Officer at Stage-Co, who took care of the sponsored food. Not as easy as it writes down, but a struggle till the last minute. We also tried sponsor money but failed. Even in a big, growing city nobody opens his or her wallet. Everybody likes what we do but when it comes to money all reasons are good as excuse. Not that it ever sat us down. Startup Weekend is about people, passion and people.

At the same time it was my first as a facilitator next to Burak who is a veteran. We were going to do an English/Turkish version, a first I think in Turkiye but we ended in mainly English to my own surprise. We had a very international audience and when we asked to chose Lean Startup Intro in English and at the same time in Turkish in another room they all followed the English version so Burak had a chill evening. I can conclude that my favourite evening, Friday night was a blast. Great vibe, almost 100 particiants, over 25 ideas pitched and an interactive and busy audience. We made Saturday a working day with great mentorship. Not many interventions with “lessons” but with a more hands-on approach. On Sunday we did the dry run pitches around noon and we ended with 6 great pitches in front of the jury. As organisers we could only be proud. And grateful to the participants, sponsors, mentors, volunteers and jury. That is why we ended with a great “jump” picture with big smiles!

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Startup Weekend Istanbul was my 6th edition and again this formula proved to be a winner. Best compliment came from a mentor saying that the result of the long weekend was as good as an accelerator of 3 months. I will give no names here. I also loved Burak’s remark that this was a new flavour, he called it a “boutique version”. I will not reveal the recipe, but you can join our next one to find out. Or if asked as a facilitator, I will gladly fill you in.

Since I started Stage-Co with Neşen and at present with a team of 5 persons, the focus is on value creation. We aim for a more active, more mature startup scene in Turkiye and MENA region. I doubted to write this down but again I experience too much one direction. First of all again we tried to get in investors as mentor or jury and despite the usual suspects, whom I respect and like a lot, with Firstseed as a welcome newcomer, we have 12 official Angel Investor Networks (12X40 investors average, you do the math)and only 2 were present as a jury. Next to that I still strugle with the worldwide organisations with worldwide sponsors but in the end as a local hub you get little of the “big www sponsorship”. You create value for them but the return is very little to nothing. We experience the same with CoderDojo. We handle 15 places where we have reached over 2000 kids but from Dublin we get close to nothing in hard return. In soft return there are always nice mails and uptalk. But you don’t pay your gas nor simit with that. It is time that these organisations think further than the headquarter costs and establish a mechanism that helps and gives incentives to local initiatives with “hardware”. It is an old story, but I need to repeat it.

Soit. (hard to translate, but it is like turning the page ;-)

The main purpose is to have fun and learn. I experienced both again and I am very grateful about that. Too many people to say thanks to also, so I invite you to check our facebook page to see and read all about them. The winners were 1.Unibble, 2. and 3. PandaAPP, congratz to them but off course at the end they should all be victorious. And yes the food is important, it is the energy the participants need to perform and survive. I am in love with the concept, so more to come, more to enjoy! Keep smiling :-D

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