54 hours. Seems like a pretty short window of time to create a business from the ground up. From the ideation, brand creation, visual identity, rapid prototyping, customer validation, the business model, revenue forecasts and all the details that go along each one of these steps, the question begs to be asked: Is it possible? I quickly found out that with the right team and right skills it can be done.
My sister, Alison Gibbins, called me about a month and a half before the event and asked if I’d be interested in coming along with her to participate in the “maker edition” of startup weekend Toronto. Without thinking too much about it I said I would join the ride to see what this was all about. She’s a startup weekend veteran, so this was old hat to her. But as the weeks became days until the first night, I started to have that number stuck in my head: 54. That’s just over 2 days! Panic set in, and wondered if I had made the right decision.
The first night started out with the pitches, and there were a lot of great ideas. My sister pitched her idea; “Griflens,” interactive story beads that would hopefully become the next playground craze. It was selected to be one of the ideas that moved on, and teams quickly formed. Being the brother of the team leader, I thought it would be prudent to join her team. Our team quickly swelled to 16 team members, making it the biggest in the field. Was this a good thing or a bad thing? Do too many cooks spoil the broth?
The answer was a resounding “NO.” The mix really seemed to work. We had a talented group of developers, technologists, designers, and business leads that had everyone busy over the course of the weekend. Plus we had a secret weapon on our team, our Mom. Not only did she develop the stories as a writer, hand paint the prototypes as an artist, but had one of the best suggestions to create prototypes; good old fashioned Play-Doh. This allowed the 3D renderers to conceptualize the beads being developed, but it was also a hit in the customer validation groups, as we quickly understood that the older kids like the idea of creating their own characters, and then having them 3D printed. This opened up a whole new revenue stream and added another element to a great pitch.
The biggest thing I took away from this weekend though was the sense of “family.” Most notably because I had the opportunity to work with my sister (who rocked it) and my mom (who was a star as well), but also with all the other team members. With such a short time frame to turn concepts into tangible products, you quickly bond together and connect in ways you wouldn’t have thought possible Friday night when making the teams. 54 hours later, we had made a viable product, but I had also strengthened family bonds and made new friends. A true win-win.