This is a guest post by Matt Sornson about his experiences at the first Startup Weekend Kalamazoo.
Last winter if you’d asked me what the Startup world looked like, I would probably have word vomited something about small groups of intensely motivated young people, working crazy hours, with no guarantee of success. Caffeine, VCs, acquisitions, lean theory, and plenty of other buzzwords might have been thrown in too. I didn’t get it.
I was missing the most important part of the startup world. The people there. It took getting a peek inside that world at a Startup Weekend for me to get it. The people who work Sartups are the people I had been looking for for my entire college career. People that do. People that create.
After spending close to four years in college surrounded by people that talk, think, and postulate but never seem to do anything, it’s incredible how energizing being around these people is. I went to my first Startup Weekend last spring and it quite honestly changed my world. I was literally buzzing for the next two months. I didn’t work on anything except the business I’d helped start. Not school, not other projects, nothing really. Not saying this is healthy, or advisable, but it was kind of awesome.
Along with the most excellent dudebros Karol, Derrick, and Nate, I had spent the weekend building beerfortextbooks.com. A website where we helped young scholars calculate how much of their favorite beer their textbooks were worth. After providing this valuable and important information, we pointed our visitors to a list of partner websites who would buy their books.
So clearly we weren’t changing the world with this idea. But that was OK. It was actually why we had so much fun. There was no pressure outside of our own desire to build something awesome in a weekend. We worked harder, faster, longer, and with more intensity than I had before. It was exhilarating.
Today I am no longer a part of beerfortextbooks.com. I sold my shares to one of our co-founders Karol after we decided to stop actively working on the business. He has decided to absorb beerfortextbooks.com into his company dormbooks.com. I’m glad I had the opportunity to work with these incredible people, working on a project that taught me more in three months than I have learned in my entire college experience.
The best thing that happened to me as a result of Startup weekend was the people I met and the connections I made. All of the people I worked with on beerfortextbooks.com were incredibly smart, creative, and driven people. Outside of my team I met and was taken into the Kalamazoo and Michigan Startup and tech community. These connections are invaluable, and have opened so many doors for future projects. I landed my current job at Newmind Group through these connections, and made some great new friends.
I cannot recommend Startup Weekend enough. Go to one, you won’t regret it. Hope to see you there.
You can follow Matt on twitter @mattsornson