Why do we do a startup weekend ?

To live magical moments. More broadly, everyone has his own reason and each of them are valuable. Develop a competence, test its reactions in a new environment, test an idea, find a co-founder, have fun etc. It is important to ask the question of the WHY to the participants several times during the weekend and see if these reasons are evolving or if they learn things they did not expect.

It is also important to remember that, even if each reason differs and each person is different, Startup Weekend is an experience bearing strong values that everyone must be able to feel and live during this weekend:

  1. Community! Community! Community! #kerker
  2.  A Startup Weekend Experience
  3. Energy
  4. Flexibility
  5. Connector
  6. Humility
  7. Empathy

As facilitator, you share these values and you are responsible for spreading out the atmosphere of confidence and fun that is found in every Startup Weekend  (see the 7 values for recall and here in French). But in the end, everyone has to build this environment. To do so, I add a slide after “this weekend, will you …” containing several tips.



Communication is a key to success! Many problems arise from a communication problem. Here are some tips to share on a slide:


• Be impeccable with your words : speak with integrity, say only what one thinks, avoid to speak against yourself or gossip about others.
• Do not make assumption: have the courage to ask questions and express what you really want. Communicate with others are clearly as you can to avoid misunderstanding, sadness and drama.
• Don’t take anything personally : what others say and do is only a personal projection of their reality.
• Always do your best: your best is changing all the time, depending on the circumstances. Only do your best to avoid self-regret,self-judgement or guilt.


 Describe. Describe the behavior/situation as completely and objectively as possible. Just the facts! “The last time, my brother George came to visit, I cleaned the entire house all by myself.”
• Express. Express your feelings and thoughts about the situation/behavior. Try to phrase your statements using “I”, and not “You”. Beginning sentences with “You” often puts people on the defensive, which means they won’t listen to you. “As a result, I felt exhausted and angry.”
• Specify. Specify what behavior/outcome you would prefer to happen. “I would like the two of us to work on cleaning the house.”
• Consequences.
Specify the consequences (both positive and negative). “If we both work together, the house will be cleaned up faster and we can all enjoy his visit together.” Or “If we work together, I will be less tired and irritable.”


• put some music on,
• make ice breakers with teams,
• organize competitions,
• put in place outdoor and indoor games (volleyball, badminton, consoles, etc.)


read this super guide to help you with potentially problematic cases in french and in english


13                                 15.png

The values that share facilitators                                   The guide to face common issues
and that must be spread                                                   (super tips!)


Slides – four agreement, DESC method

summary                                                                                                                             godeeper


Friday evening Opening – Ice Breakers !

tired.gifIt’s Friday evening and participants have just finished   their week. Usually, some would have a beer with friends, others would chill watching a soap or a good movie and some would go back to their family. Ready to rest and enjoy their weekend…


This weekend is special : they decided to participate to a Startup Weekend ! They are going to have fun, maybe test THE special idea they have been dreaming of for a few months now, meet new people and work. This involvement requires desire, motivation, and it is our job to give them this energy !


The opening is really important and must put them in a good mood. I highly recommend to start the event with an ice breaker,  before any talk. Remember, “no talk, all actions !” 

hum…But what is an ice breaker ?

An ice breaker is “a game or activity that is used to introduce people to each other so that they feel more relaxed together. An ice breaker can be a useful way to start a presentation or training session.” Cambridge dictionnary

As Nick Stevens reminds us, an ice breaker has a purpose and, before acting, you should wonder :

  1.  what is the “ice” that needs to be broken?
  2. what will the people be willing and only slightly uncomfortable to do?
  3.  what is the correct ice breaker to be the solution to this unique problem?

Friday opening ice breaker is a perfect moment to motivate people before the weekend and the pitch fire, to bring some happiness, relax everyone and make them live something different. Letting them breathing out of their confort zone with kindly people around them.

Startup weekend is about connection, human and its leitmotiv is #givefirst. You have to be able to create a climate of confidence. To do so, I highly recommend to do other ice breakers when the team is created !

Here are some ideas :

+ (12).png     + (13).png      + (14).png

Buddha Time                             Rock, Paper, Scissors                          Half Baked

+ (15).png      + (19).png

              1,2,3…                                           Ice Breaker Party, all at once !





Organizers – how to help them ?

Why would you help them beforehand ?

As a facilitator, your role is also to help the organizing team if needed ! The regional manager is surely there to support them, but you can also make the difference. Why ?

Startup Weekend is based on voluntary work
Even if some teams and cities are used to the exercice of organizing Startup Weekends now, there are still a lot of new people joining the community. You can help them to have a deep understanding of Startup Weekend and have a great onboarding (which follow with more commitment) !

The regional managers are taking care of small region, like the one called “Europe”
They daily work on improving the experience of Startup Weekend and are a support for facilitators like me and organizers, which is only 10 000 people around the world. Yeah, they have absolutely nothing to do. You can be a support, and maybe, be more available depending on your work and weekly calendar.

The barriers language can be a bitch .
Maybe it is not the same for you guys, but in France, we have trouble with foreign languages and even with english. Sorry. As a facilitator, you can use the national languages and slang words more easily. You can make sure that the team understood what is Startup Weekend.

The network is essential to succeed.
If you live in a region or a country, you might know more people and have connection.

Finally, it is always nice to follow a project
from scratch and then to be able to participate and facilitate it. You get more details, more connection, that’s just really cool !

What to do ? 

 Give Essential documents

Once the pairing is done, you plan a meeting and give them these essential links just bellow. They already got it, but, as you know, always repeat the key notion.

Screen Shot 2017-01-11 at 17.26.18.png

Do a first meeting

The objective is to make sure they understood what is Startup Weekend, that they read the documents you gave them because there is all they need in it, and finally, to know how they decided to organize their team.

Damien Gromier, community leader in Paris, has a nice tradition. He organises Mojito party ! 

Give the sponsoring and promotion document

The aim is to make them understand that they should really use Techstar documentation for their Startup Weekend.You gain time and you can create a better event.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 19.49.33.png

Stay outside, do some checkpoint :

After that, you keep emailing, have meeting on skype/whatsapp or in real life if possible. I advise you to do the checklist with them and give them some advises on every point. You can also ask to have access to their documents, it might be easier for you to have an overview and create your deck.

Screen Shot 2017-01-11 at 15.32.33.png


Note : special attention should be given on food, an essential element of the weekend “A healthy mind in a healthy body!” Cf an example of the Startup Weekend Toulon which makes homemade hamburgers. At Startup  weekend-up, we eat all the time !

food2 food3

summary                                                                                                                    godeeper

Facilitator must have read

As a facilitator, you already know what it Startup Weekend because you participated and organized Startup Weekend events. However, your role will be different now. You have to bring inspiration not only to the participants but also to the organizing team. You are responsible for the Startup Weekend experience.To be sure to be ready , here are the fundamentals :

slides-2                          9

Udemy :fun, helps to go                                               Gitbook :  Explanation text about your
through the SW steps                                                   mission

4                          5

Slide deck is always updated                                    The pairing :   Allows you to become
Version francaise ici                                                      facilitator for a dedicated SW
11                         slides-1

Spreadsheet : Lots of links, advises,                    SW Manifesto :To understand globally SW
facebook group !

Use lots of #kerker and love in general, lots of cats (Damien Cavailles, french facilitator, could give us some advises on that concept)

summary                                                                                                          godeeper

Move it ! 1,2,3

Coordinate words and movement !

The aim : in a team, you need to collaborate, communicate and try to coordinate your actions and objectives so that your project have a chance of succeeding. During this ice breaker, you have to observe, listen and react the fastest as possible !

Basically, the idea is  to team up people by two, to make them count to three together, and progressively, the one becomes a clap, the two becomes a tap, the three a hello.

Bellow are the rules and slides, and here is a video from Adam Haun.

get-the-rules                Get the slides.png






Other version :

1,2,clap – game in circle

Form un big circle and began to count one after the other. When a participant get to the 3 or a multiples (6,9,12, …), he musts clap instead of saying the number outloud ! )

If the person makes a mistake, she loses and the game start over. As the circle gets smaller, the rythm must go quicker.