Well it’s August 9th and we’re 55 days out from another Harrisburg Startup Weekend.

Startup Weekend is a three day event where ideas are transformed into business models by teams of software developers, designers and entrepreneurs. We award prize packages to the top three teams - this year the winning team will win over $20,000 in products, services and support. You can find out more about the history of Startup Weekends here.

This year Startup Weekend is the final event in our Harrisburg Startup Week festival. 20 Events over 7 Days. It should be an amazing week and it will be capped off by an equally amazing weekend.

We’ve picked the perfect location for our event. We’ll be invadingHarrisburg University at 6:30pm on October 3rd – the facility is incredible sporting a spacious auditorium, well equipped meeting rooms and it’s conveniently located within downtown Harrisburg. We provide all the WIFI you need and you’ll be surrounded by some of the top startup entrepreneurs in Central Pennsylvania. We’ll feed you breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the weekend and make sure you have all the caffeine you need.

Preparing for Startup Weekend is dependent upon you. Do you want to pitch an idea, build a team, create a product and show it off to the judges? Or would you prefer to participate as a team member where you’ll learn lean startup methods, design something spectacular or hack a bit of code?

Let’s talk ideas – you have 60 seconds to pitch it in front of an auditorium full of developers, designers and entrepreneurs. Yep – you only have a minute, we call it fire-pitch. So be prepared. Practice the pitch. Use a stopwatch. When pitching, identify the problem you’ll solve, the technology or solution you’ll build and your targeted customer. Pitch the value proposition. Before you’re done ask for the skills you’ll need on your team.

One caveat: your idea is out there in the ether as soon as you finish your fire-pitch. There are no NDAs, no IP protection – just you and an auditorium full of people who’ve heard your big idea and want to help build it. That what’s unique about Startup Weekend. A business emerges over a 64-hour period. Each team member owns the intellectual property, builds the business model and constructs the product or service.

If you’re there to participate and are bringing your technical, creative or business skills to the table -well- awesome. You’re going to listen to others fire-pitch and you’ll be able to choose the BIG IDEA you find most interesting. You’ll have three votes – we do Roman Scoring. Choose your top three ides. The ‘pitchers’ that get the most votes are asked to recruit team members. As a participant you choose the team you’ll work with through the weekend.

How many ideas are chosen? We’ll that depends upon the number of participant attendees. We like to construct teams of 5 or more. Trust me you’ll need the bandwidth a team of that size provides. It’s a sprint – no – it’s a drag race to the finish and you’re team will need to quickly form and norm with a clear division of labor and responsibilities. This isn’t easy.

Now, a dose of reality: you have 64 hours to build a Minimum Viable Prototype (MVP) that implements the business model you’ve pitched. You’re idea should be demonstrable.

So bring tools with you. If you’re a hardware or software engineer you better bring your toolkits. Choose a development style and technology that lets you rapidly build the MVP. Think Ruby on Rails – not C++. Think Makerbot or 3D printer – not injection molding.

If you’re a creative type bring your laptop, pad and phone with you. Be prepared to innovate rapidly, iteratively and efficiently – you’ll have time to build a brand.

If you’re a sales or marketing wizard bring your tools, slide decks and spreadsheet models along and be prepared to discuss Customer Segmentation, Product Market fit, Partner Ecosystems and Revenue Generation scenarios.

Get ready to move fast. The weekend goes by in a blink of an eye and then it’s Sunday pitch night.

Throughout the weekend you’ve been thinking about your product’s value proposition, the reason it’s marketable, why this thing scales. So you’ll construct a pitch deck, prepare a demonstration of your MVP and you’ll pitch a panel of judges in order to convince them that your idea and execution is a winner.

Think Shark Tank - except our sharks don’t bite.

You’ll have 5 minutes to convince the judges that your idea is worthy of incubation, acceleration and perhaps funding. That’s the goal. After the pitch you’ll be asked a few tough questions about your business model, MVP and projections – so be prepared and practice the pitch.

After all the teams have finished pitching, the judges do what judges do: they judge, they score, they offer a bit of insight as to why they’ve chosen you the winner. You’re team, if selected first, second or third will receive a prize package. Seriously. First prize this year is valued at over $20,000 in products and services. We’ll be announcing the complete prize packages over the next couple of weeks so stay tuned.

You see, our goal is to help entrepreneurs build a viable company in a weekend. We want to demonstrate to you that you can do it rapidly by using lean startup techniques. It’s one part contest, one part startup boot-camp and one part incubator.

If you’re interested, have questions or you want to help out please message me. I can’t wait to see you at Startup Weekend Harrisburg.