entrepreneurship, startup

On NEXT Cologne Q1 2013

So we brought Startup Weekend NEXT to Cologne as one of the first few cities in the world back in December 2012 and now the second cohort of the program in Cologne recently finished.

Here’s a little update on how that turned out.

Startup Weekend NEXT is an intensive five week educational program to help more startups survive by having the startup teams getting out of the building and into the real world applying customer development and business model generation to help validate their startup idea and find their product-market fit.

 Julia Tide, founder of Petomino presenting on Canvas Day


Some NEXT Cologne Q1 2013 stats

  • For Q1 2013 we had seven teams signing up to enter the program
  • As opposed to the last cohort’s stereotypical sausage fest of 100% male participants, this time we had 50% female participants FTW
  • One team had to cancel before starting the program for personal reasons
  • Another team dropped out because of illness
  • Another single founder team dropped out because of an immediate monetary opportunity
  • One was barred from presenting at canvas day because they didn’t make the customer interview quota
  • Of the seven teams entering the program, three presented in the end at Canvas Day
  • All of the three presenting teams were female-led
  • Of those three, one had the potential for VC funding (e-commerce, single founder, an Etsy for pet accessories)
  • The second was an awesome textbook example of how a single founder can go from almost no experience and a half-baked idea to something credible and tangible (a niche lifestyle business, a guide and incentive program for eco-farms and eco-campers in Germany) just by keeping an open mind, working incredibly hard and applying the methodologies taught
  • The third team most likely still a solution in search of a problem (2 person team, QR code solutions for business cards) but not about to give up before they find it

Vera Liesmann, founder of Hostacamper presenting at Canvas Day


Lessons Learned

  • Market and opportunity size and competitive landscape are incredibly important aspects that are still some of the weakest points of the current program. As the Business Model Canvas doesn’t involve these elements, it becomes an out of sight, out of mind kind of problem
  • 10-15 customer interviews per week is hard, especially if you already have a day job, two teams dropped out, but it is possible if you work hard and if you are willing to sacrifice something else to make it
  • Teams with the least invest in a product or idea coming into the program is yet again showing the most promising progress
  • Preparing coaches is still something we can get better at, especially when it comes to give hard and brutally honest feedback instead of holding back out of politeness
  • We still have to get better at marketing the program in our local ecosystem, allow for more time to actively market and prepare it in a more structured and targeted way, expanding into groups that are completely new to customer development and business model generation
  • We want to keep rolling with a NEXT program in Cologne each quarter