What’s Startup Weekend, anyway?Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event to experience what it's like to create and launch a startup idea. They take place in over 100 countries around the world every week. As part of our global partnership with Up Global and our Entrepreneurial Innovation initiative, we’ve hosted several Startup Weekend-style events with Coke associates around the world over the past year and just completed the 2nd annual event at the
Why does Coke host Startup Weekend events?The objective of entrepreneurial innovation at
What do people learn at a Startup Weekend?I can do anything in 3 days.
The experience of creating something new in just three days helps participants realize how much is possible with limited time and resources. The compressed timeframe drives action and puts the focus on building, measuring and learning, unlike a typical brainstorming session or planning meeting. “If nothing else, participants left surprised with how much they were able to achieve within the time and money constraints compared to the typical way new projects are launched at
We must prioritize customer development over product development.
The concept of customer validation is stressed during Startup Weekend. It’s important to validate a problem with customers before building solutions, and participants were pushed to experience this first hand by getting out of the building and talking to their customers using tips like these for empathy interviews. After validation of the problem, the teams launched experiments to prove or disprove the biggest assumptions. Many teams found the need to pivot to a new solution or a new idea entirely after having conversations with their customers and learning through quick experimentation.
There are some pretty smart people out there.
Also powerful was the opportunity for people to work on something outside the scope of their day job with like-minded people, many of whom they'd never met. Associates from across
What ideas have
come out of Startup Weekends at
While the focus
is on learning and development, we have the benefit of some teams moving ahead
with great ideas for the business.
The Cardio-Powered Cooler
At the first ever Startup Weekend, Rich Robinson pitched his idea for a cardio-powered cooler. In just 54 hours his team built a working physical prototype, and they left the event with a funding commitment for further development. The team has continued to refine and socialize their concept. They’ve made appearances at two ESPN College Gameday events, a GT vs. UGA football game, two Coke Ambassador Events and a Sustainability Forum at Kennesaw State. Rich credits Startup Weekend with getting the idea off the ground. “It wouldn’t have gone anywhere just staying within the R&D world” as well as the need to generate evidence and prototypes to launch and idea and get traction “A good idea is nothing unless there is someone who can prove it.”
David Wheeler came to Startup Weekend with an idea for “Kickstarter at KO” – a tool that would help new and innovative projects across the system secure financial support. Validation sessions revealed that they needed to expand the concept, and what started as a budgetary tool became CokeStarter - a virtual marketplace to connect ideas with human, financial and physical resources.
“If I had to, I’d take my vacation days to attend another Startup Weekend.” –Tyler Elmendorf
“Startup Weekend is the most inspirational experience you’ll have at Coke. It changes the way you think about the company.” – David Wheeler
Beverage Partners Worldwide Startup!
Renato Montoya, Legal Council with Beverage Partners Worldwide (BPW), witnessed the results of the first Startup Weekend in Atlanta and decided to organize his own event locally in Zurich. Not only was Renato central in organizing Zurich Startup Weekend, his team’s solution was one of the 10 chosen for further development. Renato was surprised by the intense collaboration and engagement among the participants. He felt that the richness and volume of ideas was impressive, especially given the time constraints. He credits the energy and dedication of the participants for making the event a success. Startup Weekend also gave Renato more confidence to take calculated risks, relying on his experience to act like an owner and take swift action at decision points.
Souleymane Hamed, Director of Marketing in Vietnam pitched an idea to build a machine that plays music using a
What's Next?Many of the teams are continuing to work on their ideas. But, more importantly, they have developed skills and new relationships they will take back to their day jobs. We also feel there is a new connection between
How can you participate?It’s easy to attend a Startup Weekend in your city - they happen all around the world.
Carie Davis is global director, innovation and entrepreneurship, at The