Written by Sophiya Maharjan
Unlike most of my weekends, Friday November 22nd began with a thrill and fear in my mind as I arrived in an event I had heard a lot about: Startup Weekend. A platform to understand the basics of founding a startup or a venture, all in 54 hours. Pushed by the desire to enhance my network, contribute to starting a venture, and most importantly to learn, I got going with the mission as soon as I got to SAP Falcha. Just like me, almost all the other participants had a dream to make their mark as an entrepreneur, a change maker in the society, and in pursuit of this, had participated in the event.
The weekend started off with everyone pitching their ideas in front of the weekenders and we were to work in teams on the top 11 highly voted ideas and convert it into a viable product within 54 hrs. My idea ‘Himal’- catering farmers in mountainous regions to find and reach out to the market – didn’t make it to the list yet earned me a position in the team I worked with that weekend. My team’s idea was to develop a service that would let people locate and suggest Public Toilets in the nearest available places, which we named as Su-SuChuck, and we had four members in our team a creative designer, software developer, computer engineering student and myself a‘Business Guru’ (as mentioned in my name tag!) as a recent undergraduate in management. We worked extensively for those given 54 hrs but it never felt like we were working. There was this drive that kept all of us get going.
The business and management studies I had done in my classroom, I actually applied them out there, starting from planning to develop a basic framework to help us move further, organizing resources and data we needed, ensuring we stayed with our original plan and not get deviated, and improvising the feedback from all the mentors to tighten the loopholes we had. There were times when we got drifted away from our original idea and modified it which further complicated the situation. At the end of day having undergone mentoring from nearly 10 mentors, we decided to keep things simple and stay with the original idea.
Everyone we shared our idea with liked it and thought it was innovative so I, as a presenter started to feel the pressure even though my team members made every attempt to make me feel better and said every now and then that it didn’t matter whether we won or lost but what mattered was the 54 hrs long journey we had been through together, the fun we had and the hearts we won. Keeping all the faith and expectations in mind I went up in the stage and did what I had always been acknowledged to be good at, expressing myself in public. Once the 7 dreadful minutes were over, people congratulated and appreciated our team’s efforts. It didn’t matter if I did the best or the worst job while presenting but what mattered to me the most was I took the initiative and worked wholeheartedly to accomplish what we had aimed for.
Our idea, Su-Suchuck was awarded the third best idea among the top 11. It felt good to be rewarded and recognized for all the hard works we had put up. But for me personally, the biggest achievement and what mattered the most was when the people I idealize and admire said they were proud of what I had done! Everything I learnt there, the amazing people I met, most innovative ideas I heard of, the extensive working hours, agreements and disagreements we went through, continuous supervision we got, and many more have instilled a confidence and optimism in me that yes, the sky actually is the limit.
Startup weekend has not only helped me to explore the actual world of startups but also facilitated me to understand and experience why Confucius said “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”. I cherish every moment I spent there and treasure the amazing friends I made that weekend.