Starting a Thanksgiving week off merely exhausted and elated meant that the weekend was a memorable one. Back for another round, Startup Weekend Chicago 2012 was reborn. With new ideas a new location and a plethora of old and new faces, the chance to build a business was indeed the objective.

The Start
After tons of people, pizza and partial conversations about variable ideas, we were informed of prizes, house keeping rules and the presentation format. Greeted by Troy Henikoff (CEO of Excelerate Labs), Shane Reiser (Co-Founder of Dwolla) shared his thoughts as the coordinator of the event while Mike McGee (Co-Founder of The Starter League) exposed his tips and quick strategies on presenting. To make things more interesting, Shane set up a Rock, Paper, Scissors championship of grand magnitude. (See who wins out of the 100 or more people in attendance) Instantly pitches started which ranged between patient tracking in healthcare to a women’s need to know ESPN sports platform. As rapidly as they were presented, ideas were selected and filtered as people gravitated to them almost immediately. While teams formed, people dispersed to segregated areas to streamline the ideas, understand and delegate tasks and quickly make the most of the 54 hours.
Disclaimer: I formed with team Womlet – A small business marketing platform that offers incentives and rewards for the advocates of every day brands. (more on that below)

Saturday Morning
The morning arrived and as the doors of building 1871 opened, so did the coffee, bagels and Macbooks. Hammering away during the day on the user experience and flow, branding and design, the team was focused on the goal of winning. Our team made up of two business minds, two UX designers and a ruby on rails advocate, pushed forward through the design and presentation. Breaking for lunch allowed time to refresh and offer some milestone updates while using the staff and volunteers as resources. Continuing to refine things while considering pivots and business incentives, dinner had passed while the AM time frame approached us. By 4AM, fatigue and exhaustion became our worst enemies.

Sunday Morning
By 10AM we rejuvenated and regained momentum to finish up. As the day winded down, we quickly ran trough facts, presentation timing and business models to ensure a well rounded execution of the idea. At 5PM it was all or nothing and we did an excellent job at presenting our business idea. Check it out below:

Considerations/Take Aways:
1. Dont Be Afraid To Ask: There were tons of resources available and within arms reach. Take full advantage of those that are at your disposal. It will get you to your goal faster than you think.
2. Prepare for the Unexpected: As you start to refine your idea, sometimes pivots happen. Be prepared for it to avoid bitter frustration.
3. Remember to Recharge: A break for fresh air, a walk, a short nap – these things are key to keeping momentum and will help you in the long run. Indulge in them.

A huge CONGRATS to all of those in attendance and for everyone with the courage to present!

Until then,
Design with LIFE in MIND…

A. Duke

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