…was originally to share what I learnt from organizing the first iWeekend event in China, in Beijing on Nov 17-18, 2010. It was an AMAZING experience, i didn’t know anything about start-up before -or just what an average person know about it, that it sounds cool and mostly happen in the Silicon Valley- and now I can not imagine not working with start-ups in the future.First what is iWeekend?
iWeeekend is a 2 days intensive event to turn ideas into start-up! It gathers like-minded tech entrepreneurs, and people from the tech world like developers, designers, marketers….anyone passionated about tech and start-ups. People with business idea pitch them on Friday night, all participants vote the best ideas and build teams. Saturday Sunday all teams work into group to produce a basic business plan, a prototype of the web/mobile app/software and a 4min presentation of the idea. Iweekend is the event to go is you have an idea and don’t have a complete team, or don’t really know how to start. Or if you work in tech, are a bit bored at your work and is looking to work on an new inspiring project. We also input mentors into the equation, plus pizza, great partners, fun… And you have a basic iWeekend. What was so amazing about it? 1.The team
We are a bunch of friends, working in tech, doing improv, quitting our job and bumming around and then Olof, who lived in Spain for a few years, suggest “let’s organize an iWeekend in Beijing!”. As improvisers, we instinctively replied “YES, let’s!” and then as what it was.
He attended it in the small spanish city of Saint Sebastian, thought it was a cool event and exchange contact with the father of iWeekend, Luv Sayal. Olof is an engineer and already have a few websites running. I guess he join iWeekend mainly out of curiousity and to meet cool entrepreneurs.
Anyway, atthe end we were 5 close friends to organized the first iW in Beijing: Olof, Dawn, Mia, Jane and I. 3 foreigners and 2 Chinese. 4 improvisers and a journalist. Also we got great support of Luv, who skyped with Olof very regularly and has always been very available regardless of his busy schedule. Sharing his experience and mentoring us all along the organization made things a lot easier.
2. The people I met
I was lucky enough to have the responsibility of PARTNERSHIP and because I didnt know much the Beijing tech scene before, started joining all tech events that happens in Beijing. And that’s how I started getting in touch with the people who made the community. It is surprising how much the world can be a great place where busy entrepreneurs will make time in their agenda to meet you and help you. Just because they believe you can contrbute to building something good for the community. Help the community and the community will help you.
Cyril Ebersweiler who is French and started Chinaccelerator, an incubator for tech start-up in Dalian (maritime city North of Beijing). He had the intention to organize a StartupWeekend (event quite similar to iW) in Beijing but had to drop the idea due to his busy schedule. So he has been very helpful from day One when I contacted him to tell him we were organizing iWeekend. He had lots of advices and made time to meet me during one of his trip to Beijing. He has been one of the person who helped the most through his advice and connections. it impacted a lot to have his support! Benjamin Joffe is the first person I met on the road to iWeekend. He is also French and the founder of MobileModay Beijing. He is on and off in Beijing but I was lucky enough to catch him for lunch and he gave me loads of useful advices about the organization of iWeekend, and life in general. He is very accessible and has a real talent to tell stories and fascinates you. Definitely a top knotch speaker! Bo Yiqun, vice president of a for-profit organization called The Great Wall Club. He is Chinese but is part of the French Connection as he studied in France and speak French fluently. While Great Wall Club target more CEO executive of established leading companies of mobile internet, he also helps with his connection and by pointing me who could help me for what. The folks of OpenParty. OpenParty is a non-conference organized monthly in the office of Thoughworks Beijing. A non conference is you don’t know is an event where people submit the topic they want to talk about, the audience vote which one they want to listen to and the programme is made onsite. OpenParty Beijing is organized by a federation of different local developers communities (Linux users group, Gnone users group, java…), so most topic are related to tech. I contacted Liu Dan and Tin without being introduced by anyone but they have immediately answered my call to meet and introduce us to contacts in Google, GNOME user group, CSDN (the biggest tech community website in China) and Peter Cheng, an angel invester very active in the organization of opensource community event. It is a shame that around here foreigners and Chinese do not often collaborate on event. When organizing iW one of the first questions potential partners/sponsors ask was always: “is it a Chinese or a Foreigner event?” I dont think the situation is as it is because one group doesn’t like the other…but there are different barriers in cooperation: language, culture, work and life style… I was very happy to see that none of them stop the Open Party guys to help out! I would be damned if I dont cite also other very busy people who kindly made time in their agenda and met me and have been very supportive: Oliver Dooley of WebWednesday Beijing, Chris Evdemon – Incubator manager of Innovation Works (created by the very famous Lee Kaifu), Gang Lu & Cindy Jiang that I met at their own event NTALKS, and probably others that I am sorry to forget! 3. The event itself!
After several months working and stressing out organizing iW, when the day came…it was all pleasure! Participants were super motivated and dynamics, lots of great ideas. The mentors was soooo interesting and helpful. Very cool also! We had the luck to organize the pre-event at Google, which is an awesome place -like Disney, the happiest place on Earth! We got free delicious pizza from partner… Dai Bin, our host at Orange -facilities we used for iWeekend-, was super nice with us and facilitate everything. It was really magic to see people enjoying what we worked so hard for and making the step to trip entrepreneurship! And for all these reasons…. iWeekend is gonna be back in April 2011!