Tri-Cities Startup Weekend 2013

We live in an economic aquarium. A fish bowl started last century, rapidly evaporating in the desert yet never drying out due to regular refreshment by the federal government. Everyone knows the biggest threat to the aquarium is missing too many regular feedings.

I believe the purpose of the community at large is to evolve how to walk on land. I believe we need to start with field trips outside the bubble, getting our feet dry while the water level is still high. Tri-Cities Startup Weekend was a new opportunity to evolve beyond the fishbowl.

The calm Friday before the storm

Ideas Make Teams That Make Community

While I was, according to Startup Weekend HQ paperwork, the lead organizer, it was far from my work alone. Becca Lingley, LoAnn Ayers, Gary Spanner, and Brett Noyes, our facilitator from Spokane. Ty Mulholland was invaluable in orchestrating the event, but technically in a hospital during the weekend itself, working on the final QA before release of his own new productWe also had a great panel of judges, team of coaches, and some very energetic help from WSU grad students.

Teams are the fundamental unit of a community and economy. Only a team could have put on the event and only teams could hope to make the ideas pitched become reality. The community needs to maintain cultivating potential in individuals, but also recognize that potential is only unlocked and applied through the effort of teams.

Everyone looking at the ideas during Friday night voting

It's better to go with a bad choice than wait for a good choice

None of the ideas needed the weekend to succeed, they just needed some motivation and other people to fill in their own lack of expertise.  A lot of entrepreneurs talked about waiting for the right time, right partner, or right detail. They were missing that the right time is always now and the right decisions is always unknown, because new things are always uncertain.

"Make It Happen"

- The TC Startup Weekend Mantra

The time-constrained nature of the weekend forced teams to decide, because time was moving forward even if they were not. Even though I know they were likely loaded with second-thoughts before taking the stage, they each delivered great presentations and were better for not listening to those doubts and just forging ahead. The learning one undergoes during retrospection often feels like shame, but it is truly growth.

The judges Sunday evening, hearing final pitches

Uncertainty + Uncertainty = Courage

 I was most gratified to see those moments where the apprehension people brought into the event was being replaced with motivation, virtually always from the words of another equally uncertain person. As helpful as the mentors were for guiding a business plan, they were not the ones who encouraged the attendees.

Courage isn't a form of currency. It is not transferred from those who have it to those who don't. It can be created spontaneously and independently, by two or more people who choose to make a team.

Derrick congratulating Kris on coming in first place

The Best Victories Don't Come With a Prize

Startup Weekend is a competition with a prize; however, that is only a threadbare plot device to just get people in a room and working.   The people who experienced the biggest impact over the weekend, who attained the most growth, were not all the ones in the winner's circle.

Abigail, 12, and her new friend Octocat

Startup Weekend is a short field trip outside of the fishbowl. Fins can't turn into feet in just 54 hours. It is one of many moments in the life of a community, but one uniquely suited to challenge individuals to form teams, the atomic unit of economic activity. It helps those at the threshold of "what if" discover what can happen when they act instead of wonder, and I hope the discovery continues beyond.

Until next year: Keep Making It Happen!