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Startup Weekend Perth – Why?

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Marcus Holmes

What’s the point of Startup Weekend? Why do we organise and run it the way we do? Since we’ve got another one coming up, this is a good opportunity for me to pontificate about the event. 

Startup Weekend is an education about startup in a weekend, like it says on the tin. We’ve seen the event evolve over the years, and Perth has evolved a slightly different style to other SW events I’ve seen. To be honest, part of that evolution has been shaped by my experiences in the startup community, seeing what people are actually struggling with when they get going.

There’s a few people who have taken me to task for moving away from a hackathon format where the object of the weekend is to get something built. This wasn’t an accidental shift. There’s a few reasons why:

  1. Building stuff is easy. Yes, I know, I’m a dev, so I have a different perspective, but it really is. The hard part is not writing code, but writing the right code. Knowing what to build is actually 90% of the battle.
  2. Most early startups don’t fail because they didn’t build anything, but because they built something that people didn’t want.
  3. Building stuff, even building great stuff, is not the thing that will make or break a business. We all know stories of inferior products beating better products because they had better marketing. A well-marketed badly-made product will always beat a badly-marketed well-made product.
  4. The hard part about creating a startup is getting customer money. The rest is easy in comparison.

Removing the focus on the technology has enabled a focus on building businesses that actually stand a chance of working. So we have moved the weekend over the last few years from a “let’s build something awesome!” to “let’s sell something awesome!”.

We now focus the teams on getting customer money as the single measure of success for the event. There’s a simple reason for this: getting customer money is the single measure of success for a business. Any other metric (number of users, investment dollars, Facebook likes, Twitter followers) is vanity. If your business is unable or unwilling to get money from customers then it’s a hobby. The days of “build an audience and monetise it later” are gone, see Twitter for details. If you’re unable to monetise from day one then your business won’t work.

We have also moved from a focus on the idea to a focus on the process. In the early days we encouraged people to bring the idea that they really loved to the event. We wanted people to build a startup over a weekend that stood a chance of becoming a real thing. Now we don’t do that. It’s not about the ideas that people come up with over the weekend, it’s about the process of validating an idea and pivoting through different versions of that idea to find one that works.

The problem with people bringing ideas that they love is that often they resist any change to the idea (because they love it). But all ideas are flawed and need to change in order to work. Learning how to pivot and iterate on an idea is a core part of the process that Startup Weekend teaches. If you can’t get customers to pay for your idea then your idea needs to change, it’s that brutally simple.

So, come along to Startup Weekend, November 4-6th, and discover the process for building a business that stands a chance of succeeding. More info at




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Picture of Marcus Holmes

Marcus Holmes

Gentleman Technologist and co-founder of Startup News. His vision has made //SN a sustainable media cheerleader for the startup community. Former CEO of Phnom Penh Post, he can be found somewhere in S.E. Asia coding away...
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