Justin is helping to organize Startup Weekend Exeter 2018

Startup Weekend: much more than starting up a business

Startup Weekend returns to Exeter this October and with expert mentors and judges, including scientist and entrepreneur, Sawsan Khuri, it could be the most exciting to date!

It’s important to remember that Startup Weekends are not just for students or those bursting with business ideas. The experience offers the opportunity for personal development; building new relationships, acquiring new skills and strengthening the community. There are also lessons to be learnt for larger businesses including discovering intrapreneurship; creating new business opportunities within an existing business.

Justin Turquet was part of the 2017 MBA cohort at the University of Exeter Business School and was invited to take part in last year’s Startup Weekend Exeter. He valued the experience so much that he is back to help the organising team at this year’s event.

Talking about the experience Justin said: “Startup Weekend is an entrepreneurial environment built around nascent business ideas that are then developed by forming teams and the support of expert coaches and feedback from a panel of judges.  Whether, or not, your idea is chosen, you are given the opportunity to work on an idea from the ground up. This was something I had not experienced in my working life.

Forming a small team around a very basic idea had allowed me to work with and learn from people from around the world who had worked in Engineering, Law and Finance and came to the project with different approaches and ways of working through an idea and overcoming the inevitable obstacles we faced.  It required a team effort with leadership from the whole group. As someone who had sat in a particularly hierarchical management structure, this was a steep learning curve but one that opened my eyes to the benefits of more collaborative ways of working.  This has helped me work in teams later in the course and has made it easier to integrate into new working environments after I graduated.

Working in such a concentrated time frame was a great lesson analysing and taking on advice.  In a short space of time the team had to analyse and take on advice from the coaching team and either put it into practice or reject it quickly and move on. Having to make these decisions quickly and decisively was a great way of building confidence amongst the team. 

Startup Weekend demands that you test your ideas and test them quickly.  This is the acid test for any idea in the work place.  Are you prepared to see if anyone want to use your product or service, to run with your plan? Doing this on a weekend brought extra challenges but it made you find a way. Teams were using online forums, surveys or simply getting a clipboard and hitting the high street.  With any form of innovation, whether it is a new idea for a digital platform or trying to change habits in an established working environment, going out and asking people what they think is the acid test.  Startup Weekend asks if you are prepared to do this.  It is a great way of testing your own belief in a concept as well as finding ways to validate an idea.  

Turning negatives into positives and building a more resilient outlook into your skill set is a big part of these weekends, they are as much about personal development as they are about pushing your idea for the next big thing on a smart phone.  Startup weekend gives you the opportunity to test not only your ideas but yourself, in a challenging but also supportive environment.  I would recommend it to anyone.”

To discover more about Startup Weekend Exeter, which takes place from 12-14 October, visit the website or to signup, visit the Eventbrite page.

Date: 30 August 2018

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