Getting up for my morning lecture on Monday wasn’t so fun but by some miracle I made it. I am still completely and utterly shattered. I got a little more sleep than I had expected, but my adrenaline has now run out. The past three days at Kickstart Weekend - the biggest event in Entrepreneurs Durham’s calendar - have been unbelievable. If you did not make it, then all I can say is that you must do it next year.
Before I go into any more detail about the event itself I will explain to you in more detail what it is. Kickstart Weekend takes place from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. The event aims for the teams to ‘set up’ a business in a weekend. Ambitious right? Surprisingly doable. Now when I say business I don’t mean a business you could then launch on the next Monday (although you and your team could choose to launch the business together). The aim is more to take an idea, suggested on the Friday night, and develop it as a team and with the help of mentors, to be able to pitch the idea and your progress to a panel of judges on the Sunday afternoon. As you can imagine it is a task which requires a lot of effort. However what surprised me most was how easy it was to rise to the challenge. I am not saying the process was easy. But I was impressed the amount my team and I were able to achieve. My team got further with our idea over the weekend than I have with my own business idea over the last six months. The reason for that was because you were put in an environment where you had one thing and one thing only to focus on. The deadline was so tight that, as a student, I felt that my previous all nighter experience came in handy. Thankfully the event was supplied with large quantities of tea and coffee.
What was it like to participate? It was an experience. I know, a total cliché. But it was exactly that. An amazing experience. I learnt all sorts of things. Not all good. I realised that sometimes I should give my teammates a little more space to voice their opinions. I learnt odd things as well like the US wholesale candle websites are a lot easier to use than the UK ones. I learnt the Gates Shopping Centre is only open at 11 o’clock on a Sunday. I learnt useful tips (which I plan to share with you in the coming weeks) from the mentors. Mentioning the mentors, I must give a huge thank you to all of them. The mentors were immensely helpful to chat to. They challenged my teams’ idea by questioning us and taking different perspectives. Some of which, my team had not considered or foreseen. My favourite thing about the mentors was their enthusiasm for business and especially for start ups. Their insistence that planning, positivity and persistence were the key skills for us to take from the weekend. Now I can’t speak for the rest of my team or the other participants (although I hope they feel the same way) but I came back from the weekend with a lot of spark. After the weekend I just wanted to go home and work on my business idea. I wanted to see if I can test it, see if it works. The weekend also taught me the importance of having a team and a network to support you who can offer advice as well as play devil’s advocate. This was frustrating at times but I think we developed a better product because of it.
So all in all, would I so it again? Yes. I would not only repeat the weekend but also attend the event again. Why, you ask? Simply because the experience of a different team with a different idea would be a new challenge.