On September 13th we’ll be kick starting Harrisburg Startup Weekend at Harrisburg University stating at 6pm. After several brief comments from the organizing committee and our Startup Facilitator we’ll move directly into team formation. I gave an overview of what goes on during a Startup Weekend and how you can prepare for it in my previous article T-Minus 30. In this installment I’d like to discuss the initial pitch - where you describe your big idea in under 60 seconds.

Everybody has at least one big idea every day. You look at a product and think: “I can make that better”. You look at a business model and wonder: “Why do they do it THAT way?”.  Next time you have a great idea - write it down and bring it to Startup Weekend.

Startup Weekend is all about the pitch. First you pitch the idea, product or service you’d like to build over the weekend. Next you surround yourself with people who’ll make that idea a reality. Lastly you’ll pitch the completed idea and demonstrate your minimum viable prototype to the judges.

So let’s talk about the first pitch. It’s done in pitch-fire format. Think of it as product management meets speed dating.  This is your opportunity to convey in 60 seconds or less what you intend to build over the next two days. 

That’s not much time so you’ll have to prepare and practice it before you arrive. Let’s break it down:


  • Introduce Yourself and the Name of Your Product or Service
  • Identify the problem the product or service will solve
  • What team members do you need on your team
  • Come up with a name for the ideas - you can change it later


For example:

“Hello everyone I’m Chuck Russell, Sr. Partner at Collective Intelligence and I’m a product manager. The 2009 economic crisis really took it’s toll on young people between the ages of 16 and 20. 22% of people in that age group are actively looking for work but are unemployed. Yet, there are dozens of part time - micro tasks - that the elderly need performed on a daily basis. I want to create a mobile application platform that connects unemployed young people with the elderly on an ad-hoc, as needed basis. Think ebay meets elance. To build it I’ll need at least 2 developers with rapid dev skills including IOS or Android experience. I’ll need at least one designer to help with graphics. Thanks, and please join me while we build TeenTask.”

Keep it short, get the point quickly and let your idea sell itself.