and the results never came back. They’re
still fixated on what exactly makes a
game go viral. They’re thinking about
launching a Kickstarter to raise money,
but they’re not sure how they would
monetize the game.
Around 11 p.m., I visit the Wan-
2Learn team table. While Brandley and
Randall were out at the mall, their teammates had made progress. Their
designer, Brad Schoch, has created a
PDF mockup of a landing page, search
functionality, and an instructor page.
Brandley is ebullient about how
things are going. He raises his fists.
“This could be the next Facebook!” he
exclaims. Eyes light up with the possibility of great fortune. Then, with one
quick thwap, Randall raps Brandley in
his crotch, and Brandley crumples to
the ground. The team members laugh.
What if someone actually put money
in my hands?”
Fewer than 1 percent of Startup
Weekend companies actually raise
money from venture capitalists, but it
happens. Startup Weekend has come a
long way. The first one, a scrappy affair
in 2007, was streamed live over Tech-
Crunch. It was a novelty, a stunt— 70
or so geeks in a room seeing what they
could hack together overnight. For the
most part, TechCrunch readers loved it.
But there were a few skeptics, people
who saw something sad, or even dark,
in the proposition that something mean-
ingful could be created overnight. Those
people suggested that the excitement
around the event—which ended up cre-
ating a simple app—presaged an immi-
nent start-up bubble.
But something else was happening—
maybe less perceptible at the time but
very real. Because the costs of starting a
business were increasingly approaching
zero, entrepreneurship was becoming
more accessible to the masses. The
culate revenue projections and start-up
costs. Real entrepreneurs teach them
how they can go out and raise money.
It’s education, sure, but there’s some-
thing more vital, more elemental, and
perhaps more complex about the
human psyche that makes this 54-hour
experience so addictive.
Day three: who’s
reaDy to pitCh?
The University Center ballroom looks
like some sort of start-up combat zone.
There are giant slabs of paper
with hockey-stick-like revenue
projections strewn about the
floor, and cinematic sunbeams
cascade into the room through
its western wall of windows.
People dart around, bleary-eyed
and drinking Red
Bulls. They are
amped up and
excited for the
which starts at 5.
Teams continue to meet with
coaches, refine their pitches, and try to
predict questions the judges may ask.
For David Steinberg, the founder of
Vigor.io, a rewards-based promotional
service, meetings with coaches this
weekend have been the most valuable
part of the experience.
“Startup Weekend forces you to
think about your idea seriously, which is
something I wouldn’t have done in the
past,” he says. “I might have done a
mockup, but this forces me to think:
with one quiCk THWAP, his partner
raps him in the CrotCh, anD he Crumples
to the grounD. the team members laugh.
intimidation factor was dwindling.
Still, I wondered: Do people really
believe they can start a company—
or become ready to run one—after
Of course not, and by Sunday evening, I begin to realize that’s almost
entirely beside the point.
From the moment participants enter
to the moment they leave, they are carefully stewarded through the “
entrepreneurial journey.” They share ideas and
listen to others. They learn how to cal-
Rick Brandley is sitting with his team in
the back of the University Center ballroom when he learns that Wan2Learn
has won Startup Weekend Monterey
Bay. He nearly jumps out of his chair.
It turns out the judges didn’t really care
if the teams had built a prototype, and
Wan2Learn’s PDF presentation was
by far the prettiest. The team gets up
onstage and accepts its plaques.
Michardiere’s pitch fell a little flat,
and one of the judges didn’t quite
understand how Bubblio.com was
different from some other sites. But
Before everyone leaves, Brett
Nakatsu, the Startup Weekend facilita-
tor, gets onstage.
“Did everyone here learn something?” he asks. Everyone in the audience
raises a hand.
Someone in the back of the room
shouts that there will be another Startup
Weekend six months from now.
The crowd roars.
“this CoulD be the