Startup Weekend Lagos: Lessons for every entrepreneur

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Last weekend was my first experience with startup weekend. I was invited to serve as one of the coaches to teams of entrepreneurs who had been given 56 hours to launch a startup. A very herculean task if you ask me, but achievable nonetheless.

While the teams were knee deep into their work, the coaches spent time networking and sharing experiences. Here are some of the key lessons from these interactions and tidbits from the judges.

1. Partnerships: For a business to successful in the 21st century, you need a healthy mix of product design, marketing and operational skills. It is also a known fact that very few individuals possess all these skills thereby making partnerships the preferred route for entrepreneurs. Google, Apple, Twitter, Microsoft etc. all lend credence to this fact.

2. Execution is King: No matter how great your idea is, if you are not able to execute and communicate flawlessly, it will amount to nothing. A not so good idea flawlessly executed and delivered with passion is more likely to gain traction than a good idea poorly executed. 

3. Reiteration: Very often, the first idea is not the best one. To have a market ready product, you will often have to go through series of iterations and reiterations till you get to the point where you have the perfect product, price, target market and business model. Until then, keep tweaking.

4. Ask for Help: Whether you are a first time or serial entrepreneur, there are and will be some areas you will need help with. Be smart enough to recognize these areas and ask for help. Be also gracious enough to receive help. Don’t ask for help and then reject it once its offered. Remember point one, nobody knows it all and nobody wants to help someone who acts like they know it all.

5. Network: Social media has made forming relationships easy. However, people still prefer to give their money and business to known faces. This is where networking plays a very important role.  It provides a great opportunity to meet new people, socialize and learn. Though you may not be able to attend every event keep an open mind.

6. Be Nice: People love to work, help and hang out with other people who are nice. Whether it’s your customers or staff, treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Life is hard enough.

Good luck to the winner SmartAjo and all the other contenders.

Share your thoughts in the comments below.