By Sunday morning you may see a good chunk of teams running headfirst into the realization that they’ve spent half of the weekend brainstorming an amazing assortment of features, and they are only about half of the way to coding and prototyping a viable product. It can then be assumed that they have spent very little time preparing for the Sunday presentations. First thing in the morning, you’ll begin to get flooded with inquiries about Sunday night. With that said, keep the following points in mind.
Common mistakes made on Sunday:
Presenting Order and Tech Checks
Ensuring that technical issues are kept to a minimum, teams must do a tech check in order to give their final presentation. Each team is required to do a dry-run of their presentation/demo, or at the very least, make sure their video and audio connection is working, before they are allowed to sign up for a spot. After announcing this, have someone monitor teams as they sign up to be sure they’ve hooked up to the projector and tried running demos. The order that these teams tech check is a simple way to build the presentation deck—tech check first, you get to present first!
Tech Check should be mandatory - you want to eliminate surprises at your event at all times.
Panelists and Judging Criteria
Know the names and basic bios of the panelists so you or the facilitator can pass on that information to attendees. It’s important to know who’s judging you, as well as what you’re being judged on. The facilitator should have gone over the judging criteria on Friday during the kickoff, but it’s worth reiterating to attendees the criteria:
- Execution and Design (MVP)
- Business Model
You can find a judging template in Sunday here. It’s also helpful to populate the judging form with the names of all teams and print out copies for each judge. Make sure to go over the criteria with the judges beforehand as well.
Categories and Prizes
Depending on the number of teams and the amount of prizes you have lined up, you can have anywhere from just one overall winner to several ranked winners. Typically, have a first, second, and third-placed winner (based on the judging criteria) in addition to one “crowd favorite” or “honorable mention.” Additional fun awards are always a good way to keep the crowd engaged and celebrate the weekend. What’s important is to have the judging and prizes be a celebratory occasion rather than exclude non-winners. Some optional additional categories include:
Most likely to change the world
Funniest/most entertaining presentation
Most likely to raise and lose capital
Most sleep-deprived team
Take note that no cash prizes may be awarded at Startup Weekend. Cash prizes can create some legal issues, but more importantly we’ve found attendees end up dividing prizes amongst themselves instead of using it on their startup. After 54 hours of work, cash isn’t the most important ingredient to continuing to work on their idea. Our goal at Startup Weekend is to create impact, and we want prizes to reward attendees with opportunity instead of physical goods.
We recommend finding prizes that help advance the attendees journey into entrepreneurship. In-kind prizes, donated co-working space, networking opportunities, and travel opportunities are good options. Reach out to your regional manager if you would like some good suggestions.
Getting Teams Prepared for Presentations
Allow us to reiterate: make sure every team has done a full dry-run of their presentation and done a tech check at least 2 hours before presentations begin. This will make a world of a difference. Ensure that you and/or the facilitator brief each team on the presentation format (5 minutes, 2-3 minutes Q&A from the panel), the judging criteria, and pitching best practices (proper format/content, key elements to address, key elements to leave out, etc.).
Managing the Demos
Try to get all teams rounded up, in their chairs and ready for presentations at least 15 minutes early. Projecting a Twitter wall display of the event’s tweets and/or playing music is a good way to build the mood and get attendees (who now are exhausted) re-energized. Once everyone is situated the facilitator will commence with an opening speech.
All teams should be aware of the presentation order, but be sure to advise one person from the team “on deck” to begin to set up their presentation while the preceding team is doing Q&A with the judges. Depending on the number of presentations, you may want to take a break halfway through pitches. Keep it short!
“Crowd Favorite” Voting
When all pitches have ended, the judges will retire to tally up the numbers and come up with their top teams. While they’re doing so, if you’ve decided to include a “crowd favorite” prize, you and/or the facilitator will need to organize the community voting. Here’s what we suggest:
Project a list of each team in the order they presented
Give 3 sticky notes to each team
Ask them to write their team name in the bottom right corner of the sticky note and the name of their favorite pitches on each. They can vote for a team more than once but cannot vote for themselves
Within 10 minutes, collect the votes, check to make sure no teams have voted for themselves, and tally them up!
Announcing the Winners and Wrap-up
Your facilitator will handle most of the announcements, but we recommend you ask your judges to announce the winner. Not only will they feel appreciated, but it will provide judges an opportunity to share feedback and help teams continue after the event (and hopefully provide a positive perspective on what went well). Once the winners have been decided and announced, the facilitator will:
Congratulate all attendees once again.
Thank sponsors, organizers, mentors, speakers, judges, etc.
Encourage anyone interested in becoming involved with Startup Weekend in the future to contact them.
Ask everyone to help clean up after themselves as they leave.
Have everyone get together for a group photo.
Organizing a post-event party can be a great way to wrap up the weekend on a good, friendly note. This can be as cost/hassle-free as choosing a nearby bar/restaurant to meet (for whoever’s interested), and announcing it on the final evening. You’ll find that attendees will want to stick around after a great Startup Weekend. A Sunday night party is a fantastic way to celebrate and enjoy a successful event.
Next Step: Sunday Morning Email Template