Startup Weekend Perth #8 Review

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As usual, once the Startup Weekend Hangover has passed and I’m able to think clearly again, I can look back on the event and write up a summary of what went down at Startup Weekend Perth #8.

The basic facts first; we sold 106 tickets, of which 16 were observers, 18 were developers, 6 were designers, and 66 were non-technical. These brave souls formed 10 teams, one of which disbanded over Friday night. The teams were:

  • Taylrme – curated retail experience, solving the paradox of choice
  • RobeIt – AirBnB for clothes. Allowing people (primarily women) to rent out their clothes.
  • Crowdfluence – Connecting Brands to influencers.
  • Yoyo World – A game to teach people about renewable energy
  • Doctor Gap – Doctor appointments over video link
  • Ronin – Applying machine learning to mineral exploration
  • Wing Woman – Peer-to-peer matchmaking. Women recommending their male friends to each other.
  • My Klink – Give a gift to family or friends over chat
  • ChatM8 – Connecting high school students in Perth with high school students in SE Asia to teach conversational English

In the end the winners were:

First: ChatM8
Second: Wing Woman
Honorable Mention: RobeIt
SciTech Prize: Ronin

This event was remarkable because of the size of the teams. Normally teams are about 3-6 people strong. This time the smallest team was 6 people. The largest was 13 at one point (it fluctuated as people came and left). Because one team quit on Friday night we had a bunch of people who joined other teams and made them even bigger.

In future I think we’ll try and limit the team size again. Some people felt they were not able to contribute enough to the large teams and left. By Sunday morning some teams had done everything they could reasonably do over a weekend and were bored (something that’s never happened before!). Somewhere between 5 and 8 people is the optimum team size, I think, and we may have to reintroduce an upper limit of 10 people.

However, the size of the teams did mean that the pitches were amazing. They were really professional, well-paced, with strong messages and clear value propositions. As part of the research I did for the Morning Startup talk about the weekend I went back and looked at the pitches from the early events. The difference is remarkable. Beacham Group filmed the pitches and will be releasing them when they’re edited, so you’ll be able to make the same comparison.

The judging was really hard, as usual. The winners were pretty clear from the pitches, and I don’t think anyone in the audience expected any different. ChatM8 is a great idea, and the first to properly take advantage of Perth’s “timezone advantage” – you literally cannot do this business in any other city in the world. Wing Woman are trying to address a very real problem that there’s a huge market for. RobeIt made some great progress over the weekend and came up with a very polished and well-presented pitch. Ronin were the shoo-in for the science prize as the clearest application of science to a problem (and they got some kudos for spending most of the weekend trying a different idea and walking away from it when it didn’t get validation).

Personally I thought Crowdfluence got a rough time; they had a good model, great validation and a clear path to a successful business, but it’s an obscure market and the audience had trouble understanding it. The others all had problems of one sort or another. Yoyo World get a shout-out for “most improved pitch” – apparently the final pitch was a massive improvement on their practice pitch (and thanks to Anna Powell for running an excellent pitch mentoring group).

We’ll be publishing the pitch videos and any other commentary on the event as it emerges.

The next event is scheduled for “sometime in October”. You can sign up for the newsletter and get more information at the event’s new home at http://swperth.org.