George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Event FAQ

Who can attend Techstars Startup Weekend GMU?

College students and recent graduates—18 and over. All disciplines are welcome; and the more diversity the better! Developers, marketers, MBAs, designers, makers, researchers, creatives, serial entrepreneurs, and anyone that has a passion for entrepreneurship!

A Startup Weekend team needs all sorts of people to be successful. Personalities and skill sets come together during the weekend to complement each other and get the project launched.

What if I don't have an idea to pitch? Can I still come to Techstars Startup Weekend GMU?

Emphatically YES!

Some people have dozens of ideas for products and services, others don't really have any (or so they think). But many times the "Idea Person" isn't the "Get It Done Person." Someone on the team needs to be the person who codes out the prototype; gets out of the building and elicits feedback from potential customers; and figures out how much it really is going to cost to build, market, and sell the product. That person can be you!

How do I find an idea to pitch?

Look around you! There are dozens of pain points people deal with every day—hundreds of inconveniences. Each of those "problems" is a potential business idea waiting to be launched. So, over the next several weeks, pay close attention to the world around you. What problem can you solve with a better, faster, or more sustainable solution?

Can I pitch my existing business?

This gets treated on a case-by-case basis, but generally speaking, if the idea has only been marginally explored and developed, you can pitch it at startup weekend. However, if you have a beta version released or you are already making revenue on the product/service, then the answer is "No!"

The core purpose of Startup Weekend is to bring a new idea to life in a new company—NOT to get free consulting work out of people so that you can move ahead with your idea. The best advice we can give is to check in with our Startup Weekend organizers. We can evaluate how far along your idea has been developed and if it can or should be pitched during the weekend. Also, if you do pitch the idea, make sure your team is aware of how far along in development it has come before the event. Honesty and openness is the best policy.

What if my idea doesn't get selected?

The purpose of the Friday voting and crowdsourcing isn't to exclude certain ideas, but simply to highlight the most popular and high-potential pitches and end up with a manageable number of teams, ensuring that each team has a variety of backgrounds and skills.

If your idea isn't selected, don't be discouraged! Walk around and speak to your fellow attendees and find a project that interests you. Join a team where you can be excited by the idea being worked on and where you know your skills can help the team be successful.

Lastly, keep pitching the idea! Find out why people weren't interested. Was it the idea or the pitch that didn't make the cut? Maybe you just didn't get your message across clearly enough. Is there someone in the crowd who was torn between your project and another project, and then simply had to pick one? There has been more than one company born out of a failed Startup Weekend pitch.

What should I bring?
  • Laptop
  • Power cord
  • Student ID
  • Business cards
  • Lots of creative energy!
How do I prepare?
  • Do some research: Background information will give you a better understanding of the problem you are trying to solve.
  • Practice your pitch: You'll have 60 seconds to persuade other attendees to join your team. Make it clear, concise, and convincing!
  • Encourage a friend to register: Events are better with good company!
  • Get plenty of rest.
What resources/assistance is provided over the weekend?

A key part is the valuable advice and assistance by the event's Speakers, Mentors, and Coaches. In the spirit of "No Talk, All Action" we try to keep talks short and sweet, focusing on practical issues (e.g., how to give a persuasive pitch or best approaches to customer discovery) that can actually help you and your team better achieve your weekend goals. Mentors and Coaches, community experts in various fields ranging from entrepreneurship to software development, dedicate their time to providing advice and actually rolling up their sleeves and working with teams.

How do teams address the issue of Intellectual Property/ownership?

As with any startup, the team decides. Startup Weekend GMU's Organizing Team, Coaches, and Mentors do not take part in the signing of any legal documents at the event. While Mentors with legal backgrounds are often present and able to give general advice, they are not permitted to give specific legal counsel. While it doesn't hurt to be clear about your individual expectations from the start, we've found that teams who don't spend time addressing this issue until it matters (e.g., ownership of a tangible product) are much more productive and successful than those who do.

What are we supposed to have accomplished by the end of the weekend?

While there are no specific requirements in terms of what teams should have accomplished by the end of the weekend, it's in your best interest to plan your execution around what you'll be judged for on Sunday:

  • Customer Validation (did you vet your product/service?)
  • Execution and Design (what did you build?)
  • Business Model (do you have a plan for the future?)
    As far as presenting goes, some of the most common presentations include any combination of the following (in no particular order):
    • Wireframes or fully developed website
    • Mobile Apps (from mock-ups to skeletons to fully functional)
    • Slide Decks (PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.)
    • Videos (of product demonstrations, etc.)
    • Live product demos
    • Skits
Where is the event taking place?

Startup Weekend GMU is being held at the MIX@Fenwick, located on the George Mason University Fairfax Campus.

What about parking for the event?

Free parking for the weekend is provided for registered participants in the Rappahannock Parking Deck.