Startup Weekend Miami – what to expect

Day 1 -What’s going on here

I entered into the Venture Hive in Miami early evening on Friday for what would be the beginning of a long non-stop weekend.  Upon arrival, I felt some anxiety mixed with excitement in the air – but people greet you like you’re supposed to be there – which was a relief for us newbies.

Ice Breakers

After explaining what the day would be like, Lee Ngo led a few ice breaker games – making all of these strangers in the room a little closer and more comfortable. We’re all there for the same reason right? In fact , I met 3 PMs in a matter of an hour.


You’re given a minute to pitch. After the Pitches, each team gets to post their pitch summary page on the wall.  Each person in attendance has 3 votes ( post it notes. ) They go around the room to vote on their favorites. The top 5 or 6 teams move forward and can now build a team.


You choose your favorite idea from the pitch, and build your team. My team was made up of the lovely Adriana Castro – Idea , Daniela Hernandez, Miguel Hidalgo, Francisco Tamayo, Juan Murillo, and myself. Today we were supposed to share our contact info and prioritize the tasks for tomorrow. My team and I are now ready for what tomorrow may bring.


Some Advice for Day 1

1. Take business cards

I guess I never got on the Business Card trend- I thought we were digital and realized that I was the only one without one- oops.

2. Introduce yourself to people

Most of the attendees haven’t been to the event before, so right away you have something in common. The more you come up to people and just chat, the cooler the experience is, and I’m sure they’re so glad you did the first step.

3. Pitch 

 This is definitely not something that I would normally say – trust me. However, you get such a great feeling right after, you feel on top of the world to have conquered that fear of being in front of a crowd. One of the the cool things  was that the facilitator Lee Ngo really brought it to light – he assumed most people were nervous about doing it, and really encouraged us to just go ahead and do it.

Day 2 – 12 Hours Straight

Day two is about creating and not talking  – Except we did our share of talking

We talked about the business model, and changed it at least 10 times, coming back to What was close to the original idea – a way to have a unique dining experience

This is how our mentors helped our team :

Harsh Thakar – Keep it simple

Clean up the business model – we started with one idea that involved multiple actors, including chefs, venues and guests. He made it clear that by having a simple model we could make a business with the existing team.  If we would add complexity, we would have to have a much larger team and expertise to  manage so many moving parts – completely agree.

Adam Boalt – Gain critical mass first

Keep it simple and piggyback on an existing technology to gain critical mass. This is where we decided to use companies like OpenTable and work with their affiliate model to reserve tables , like this we wouldn’t have to build the momentum from scratch.

Michael Hall – Data Monetization

Michael’s advice helped the team think bigger by exploring revenue models based on data.

Felecia Hatcher’s – Storytelling is crucial

To get your pitch across – it’s about how you capture the idea in a bottle – for us it’s about resonating with entrepreneurs in the room without excluding the bigger market.

Alex de Carvalho – Laser Focus on the Audience

Making your audience clear helps you make your marketing message very specific. This goes back to the lessons from 30×500 from Amy Hoy – it’s about finding the problem of one person, and solving it – not speaking to the masses, speak to me.


Day 3 – The Pitch

Three main things that we would be judged on

  • Validation:

    Were you able to validate your idea?  We were able to put up a landing page and got working on sharing with friends and family. We each shared it like crazy, within a few hours we had over 60 signups. This was worth it’s weight in gold to to judges.

    Business model:

    Is there an audience that is clearly defined, and do they have a problem that we could find a solution for?  Answering this question proved a lot more difficult, and was most of what we did on Day 2 and Day 3 actually.  This kept changing form to what became our winning strategy – to use an existing technology so we can reach critical mass quickly.

    MVP ( minimum viable product)

    Do you have a prototype ? Having a mockup, prototype or actual working model of your app is crucial. We saw a team that had an actual product. We didn’t have a developer, but what we did was have a 3 page prototype that we sketched out and was put together by our wonderful designer. A nice trick was to use the InVision App to pull this all together.

Breakin Bread

 It was close to the end of the day, and we felt that we had met all of the requirements above.

For our presentation strategy , we decided not to close in on a particular audience, instead we kept the idea broad, and had any questions to be answered in the back pocket. We focused on the delivery of the pitch, because the judges had to believe in us as a team, and our confidence and the strength of our team was just as important.

After wonderful pitches from our friends, The BreakinBread team ended up winning first place – and now the real work begins.

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Winning 2015 Miami Startup Weekend


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