How to Ignite Your Startup in Four Days


The time is now.


Over the last eight years, the 54-hour long Start-up Weekend, founded by Marc Nager and Franck Nouyrigat, has seen more than 35,000 entrepreneurs wade through their program. Captured in a key mantra of the weekend, “no talk, all action”, the crash course proves there’s merit in getting your idea out there, rather than sitting on it and lamenting a lack of free time to get it off the ground.

If tens of thousands of hopefuls can do it in 54 hours, you can actually start that start-up in a long weekend – it just takes you deciding to do it.

Charge that laptop, get yourself a big ol’ notebook, as well as some lit-spo (The Lean Start-up is one of Stylerunner founder Julie Stevanja’s favourites) and a bottomless cup of coffee and get going. The time is now.

Day 1 | Dig deep

Today’s the day you’ll sit down and figure out how to make your idea a reality. The best place to start is a business plan. Not even sure where to start with a business plan? Or what that even is? has some super helpful templates to get you started.

But before you jump straight into that, why not look at the purpose (both the practical and emotional) of your new venture – what does it mean to you? What do you hope it will mean to others? Angharad Lewis, author of So You Want to Publish a Magazine? suggests asking yourself a few questions before beginning your project, such as: How can I create value? Is there an audience or customer base for this?. And, finally, the most important question of all: What are you in it for? It’s the main driver for getting started, so make sure you remind yourself why you’re holed up in your kitchen these next four days to nut it out.

Day 2 | Start seeking

You might think you’ve got a great idea, but will people in the real world agree? Now’s the time to get feedback on what you’ve produced so far.

Ask friends, family, people in your network, mentors… hell, it’s even worth asking strangers what they think of your idea. (Kikki K founder Kristina Karlsson approached people on the street to see how much they’d be willing to pay for adorable Scandi-influenced stationery and look where that got her?)

Consider price points, how often they’d be likely to use the product or service (is it a one-off or do you expect repeats?), what they think of your potential business name, and what they see as the best and worst parts of your idea. Don’t be afraid to get specific, either – inquiring about pricing and whether they can name any competitors are direct insights to operational logistics. Collate your feedback in a document and look for patterns – if there’s something that rates consistently badly or well, you’ll know where to focus your work, or what to amp up.

Day 3 | Work in the feedback

There’s no point pushing forward with something that people just aren’t interested in using, but that doesn’t mean you should give up just yet. The pivot is a fundamental part of being an entrepreneur.

Some ways to pivot include considering using different technology for the same offering, adjusting your pricing to reach different competitors and customers, aiming for a new demographic (remember when Facebook was just for college students?), or stripping your entire business model down to the core of your idea for greater focus, can all be effective ways to restructure your project without throwing your hard work and energy out the window.

Day 4 | Pull the threads together

Here’s the fun part. Now that you’ve got a great idea of your direction, you can start to develop the avenues that will take you to the world. Get some ideas for branding, start a website, set up your Instagram and start crafting the bridge between your business and the world. You’re already off to a crackin’ start.

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