For three days recently, 70 Microsoft employees gathered in The Garage for Startup Weekend, an innovation event that challenged them to think intraprenuerially and take an idea from inception all the way to product launch in just 54 hours. Sound overly ambitious? Maybe, but it’s what StartupWeekend.org does around the world on a regular basis, which is why Microsoft partnered with the Seattle-based non-profit company to help facilitate the event on Microsoft’s main campus.
Participants ran the gamut—from engineers to designers to biz dev experts—and so did the ideas they pitched on Day 1. Teams formed around the ideas with the most votes, and by the end of Day 3, the nail-biting began as teams presented their ideas to a panel of judges made up of Microsoft executives and industry experts. Ideas ranged from an app that searches code repositories for samples to a sensor that measures your houseplants’ distance from death’s door. The latter was the big winner of Startup Weekend, and it taught us a few things:
1. No idea is too crazy. Or, to phrase it a different way, creativity counts—as long as you have the business smarts to channel it into a product that people want to buy.
2. Launching a startup is not for the weak of heart. The judges sniffed out teams that failed to define market viability and they weren’t exactly gentle about it.
3. “Go big or go home” was the unspoken motto of the event. The team that committed to betting the farm on a business they had just three days to create won the grand prize.
4. People crave the opportunity to express their creativity and business acumen. Of all the events we host in The Garage—and there are many—Startup Weekend garnered the highest praise from participants. Which is why we’ll be hosting more of them in the future for the benefit of Microsoft employees and the culture of grassroots innovation that we foster here.
You can get a sense of what The Garage is all about in the video above.