Startup Weekend Negombo Day 02: Building Your Startup


It’s 9’ o clock on a Saturday. We were here at Paradise Beach Hotel, Negombo for Day 02 of Startup Weekend Negombo. If you didn’t already know Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event that brings together entrepreneurs, developers, graphics designers, (basically anyone with an idea) and gives them all the tools to build your own startup.

Kicking off Day 02 of Startup Weekend Negombo

Day one of Startup Weekend Negombo kicked off yesterday (19th May) with individuals pitching their startup ideas to the audience in the hope of earning enough votes and getting picked. From the 32 initial pitches, a total of 11 ideas were selected to go on to the next rounds. They also got their teams in order to begin the next stages. The teams returned for Day 02 with the goal of building an MVP (minimum viable product) and also carrying out validation to ensure that their startup ideas would be viable.

After a refreshing sea bath and hearty breakfast, Anurag Maloo, Regional Manager APAC (South & Central Asia), Techstars greeted everyone in the main hall of Paradise Beach Hotel for Day 02 of Startup Weekend Negombo. Here, he explained the goals that the teams would have to achieve for Day 02 and 03.  Throughout the day, there would also be a number of presentations and the teams would be able to meet with the mentors to help them progress along with their ideas.

The first speaker at Startup Weekend Negombo Day 02 was by Joe Lenora

The session by Joe – CEO of We Are Designers was about how to design your product, build your MVP and how to validate an idea. He started off by talking about an idea he had in 1995 to start selling handicrafts created in Africa, online. He started the project with two friends, but hadn’t done enough research. As a result, the business failed in 6 months. Following this, Joe came back to Sri Lanka and joined Asian Cybermarket. Upon receiving training from the company, his employees took him to meet a client. The client was Kent, a company known for their designs. Upon completion of the project, he was asked if he could work with them.

Startup Weekend Negombo
Joe Lenora addressing the participants on how to design your product
Image Credits: Startup Weekend

After joining Kent, He was encouraged by two of his friends to join a startup. But sadly, things happened and he had to leave the startup. From designing, Joe shifted from designing to web development. He emphasized the importance of having good design and developing your product according to stringent quality control. Joe spoke about an app by the name of Pop. The app essentially helps you transform your pen and paper ideas into an interactive iPhone or Android prototype.

Joe then spoke about another important factor when developing a product: Validation. Rather than asking simple Yes or No question, Joe emphasized that all questions asked from your target market should be direct and that the answers provided should help you out. In addition, it’s important to not ask these questions from friends and family as they would offer biased or answers favored to your product. Furthermore, if you’re doing online validation, you can carry out interviews and talks with your target audience via Skype. Joe also added that recording validations is important and keeping proof of all validations will help you keep things in order

Next up at Startup Weekend Day 02 was Mohammed Fawaz

Fawaz, the CEO of Global Tutor spoke to the audience about the Business Model Canvas. He explained concepts such as the elevator pitch, where you pitch your startup idea to an investor while taking the elevator. To ensure your pitch is perfect, you should be done by the time the elevator stops at the floor that the investor is getting out of. Similarly, a startup canvas is also like an elevator pitch, but in a more detailed manner. Even if your product has multiple selling points, it’s important to keep them to a maximum of 3. He then asked the groups to stand up and perform an elevator pitch.

Startup Weekend Negombo
Mohammed Fawaz addressing the participants

Fawaz went on to explain the elements of the startup canvas. One such section is the identification of key partners. This deals with identifying who you want to do business with and what resources you’re acquiring from partners? Next up was customer segments. This deals with identifying what customers you’re catering for? Following that was the identification of key activities. This deals with noting down the top 3 vital operations of your business. Interacting with customers was his next point. This is where customer relationships come into play. Whilst you can have a specialized approach for your customers, your customer relationships must also be very practical.

You must have a knowledge of ROI and make your numbers right. It is absolutely essential that you must know your costs. You will have a lot of costs, but try to narrow it down to simple costs to see where you spend and what you spend it on. The more practical on the costing structure, the more practical your revenue stream. He emphasized the importance of connecting your revenue stream with market segment.

Identifying key resources was his next point. These resources can be assets which can be physical, financial or even capital and intellectual assets. Identifying Channels will let you identify how you spread your product to the masses. In conclusion, Fawaz explained how he fills out the Startup Canvas. With that, Fawaz’s session came to an end.

After that, it was time to meet the mentors

Each team would be given 30 minutes with each mentor. Anurag then opened access to  a whiteboard that listed all the mentors and when they were free. The exact moment afterwards, the leaders of the teams dashed to the whiteboards frantically trying to book the best mentors for their startups. Only 15 minutes later, the mentors had their schedules packed with 30 minute meetings to help the teams. These meetings saw the teams get in-depth advice into different aspects of running their now 1 day old startups.

Startup Weekend Negombo
The teams receiving advice from their respective Mentors
Image Credits: Udara Sampath Bandara

Following this was a session by Sudath Fernando

Sudath, Director of ATG Group of Finance Companies was up on stage talking to the audience about following your dreams. Don’t let others steal your dreams, Sudath said. After Sudath’s session, the teams continued with their validations and development of their prototypes and/or mockups. If they had doubts, the mentors were ever willing and ready to lend a helping hand. This also mean that some of the teams might have had to change their ideas. The final ideas will be seen at tomorrow’s final pitches.

Startup Weekend Negombo
Sudath Fernando addressing the participants
Image Credits: Udara Sampath Bandara

Around 6PM, we were in for an interesting surprise

The teams along with the mentors and organizers took to the beach to indulge in a few games of volleyball. Despite the windy conditions and somewhat poor lighting conditions, the teams and everyone present (ourselves included) had a ball. After all the fun and games, it was time to get back to business. The teams had less than 24 hours to finish their product and create a final pitch presentation. Each team would have one presenter to make the pitch. The presenter would have 5 minutes to present their idea to the judges and a further 3 minutes would be allocated for the judges to ask any questions.

Startup Weekend Negombo
Image Credits: Udara Sampath Bandara

Day 03 is where the magic happens.

With the conclusion of the volleyball match, the teams returned back to the hall. Once all the teams were back in the hall, Anurag briefed the teams on what they can expect during the final pitches on Day 03. He shared with the teams that the perfect pitch deck has 8 slides where you spend only 30 seconds on each slide. These eight slides should help you: explain the problem, your solution, the marketing plan, your competition, how you’ll make money, introduce your team, and one powerful memorable message. With that being said, Anurag’s briefing came to an end and with it Day 02. Consider it the moment of truth at Startup Weekend Negombo. We wish all the teams the best of luck for their products and presentations.

Startup Weekend Negombo
Image Credits: Udara Sampath Bandara


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