After Chicago, I took my time in the US to travel around Tennessee, Texas before getting to California and the Startup Weekend San Diego dedicated to Education. This is the story of this awesome weekend…
1. ID Card:
- Startup Weekend San Diego
- Education edition
- 60% male / 40% Female
- 8 teams
- 9 organizers and many volunteers!
- 10 coaches
Organization: Startup Weekend Education is an entity a bit more independent among the Startup Weekend network. It runs with its own sponsors 4.0 Schools for example. Here in San Diego, it was the first time I saw such a large team of organizers and volunteers. All together they were maybe 20… Wow! But in the end, they managed the organization extremely well and all of them were very open and nice with attendees. They didn’t step on each other’s shoes during the event and they shared a great energy with attendees! And lastly, Roger, our facilitator, did a great job by explaining to people the mindset of a Startup Weekend! Great job guys!
Venue: The weekend was held at High Tech Middle, a private alternative school program which owns 13 schools across the US. Those Middle and High schools have a focus on
technology, innovation and engineering. It is an alternative school model that already showed great results! It was such an awesome venue to work on new ideas about Education! The founder of this program was also a keynote speaker who happened to be very inspiring!
2. Pitches and teams:
On Friday, I counted 27 pitches. Ideas were very diverse since people came from different cultures but had also different backgrounds or ages! I was also very impressed to see so many people from the Education fields such as teachers and other educators! That was a great plus for a Startup Weekend about Education! I saw some ideas about mixing gaming or VR with education, providing teachers with an easy access to technology or trying to help foreign exchange students in the USA to adapt to the new culture. In a word: good ideas & pretty good diversity…
3. The team I joined: Seed2Plate
Erika is a young woman studying to be a teacher in New York and she also cares about the environment and the way we eat and grow food. She pitched an idea about people who could share their knowledge about growing one’s own food! I liked the concept because I know local & sustainable agricultural is a big topic and I have seen some similar initiatives in Detroit while I was staying there! Therefore, I jumped in the team and pushed Erika to find teammates! Quickly, we were 5 onboard: Erika, Eden, Andrew, Kathryn and me!
Our main advantages:
- A great diversity: We had a team very diverse in all aspects such as Gender, Culture, Background, Age and Skills! Indeed, we had skills in Design, Business, Teaching, Agriculture and Tech! In a word, a good team!
- A great energy: I directly felt a great energy and respect between each other. We all got along super quickly and everyone was listening to new ideas and opinions.
- An excellent validation: we got feedback from educators and schools, parents, kids, farmers…
- A good concept: the name “Seed 2 Plate” could speak for itself and gave us an excellent marketing advantage. The fact that we insisted on the whole transformation process of the food, involving different actors from local communities such as farmers or chefs to share their knowledge, brought also more differentiation to our solution.
Our main disadvantages:
- Too many stakeholders involved: Our Business Model highly depended on schools as the middle man… So if schools don’t accept to work with us, there is no business for us… And it is really hard in those times to get money from schools! So our Business Model was too dependent on schools.
- Hard to scale: even if we tried everything we could to make a product as scalable as possible – and we believe we did well –, it is very hard to scale efficiently… Indeed, it requires a pretty heavy involvement of Human resources and costs can rise quickly because of the Human & Material resources needed. So it might not be the best ideas to go bootstrapping!
What we achieved:
Seed2Plate ended up as a product designed in a package in which people would choose the final dish they want to cook and then access to the whole calendar and To Do lists to get there. The calendar would tell for example when to water the plants and at what time to harvest along with the steps in the cooking process for the final transformation phase. We would sell this package to schools as an after-school program in which parents or schools (through grants) can pay for the kids to access it.
4. Final pitch:
This time only a few teams came up with an actual working demo. Most of them had mockups. However, ideas were all very sharp, meaning that they all tackled a relevant problem and created enough interesting value to solve it!
Our pitch was pretty good and we all stood up with carrots (see picture above) in our hands while speaking J We just took too much time on the demo and we couldn’t finish properly. But anyways, I believe we made a good pitch and everyone got the main idea! In the end we didn’t win but judges gave feedback to all teams and we could feel that our disadvantages in terms of scalability and high costs really played against us!
1st – BeNative: An app’ to help foreigners learn the pronunciation of American English
2nd – EdTech Kitchen: A platform to help teachers in using Tech tools for the right purposes in class
3rd – PeertoPeer: Put future Asian exchange students in touch with local American students to get pre-information about the culture they will soon experiment and soften the integration process
It was a great and interesting event! I’m glad to see that so many people care about Social Entrepreneurship because these initiatives are the ones that will make the World a better place in a way… As for the team I joined, I think that our Social Impact was higher than anyone else at this weekend and I was a bit sad to see too much emphasis put on the business side and the way to sustain it from judges in their feedback but in the end, it doesn’t matter because we followed what we believed was right!
As I always said, Startup Weekends are so different and I always learn no matter what. I also say a lot that winning doesn’t matter; it is all about learning and sharing with people… But winning always feels good HAHA! So this time, I had a wonderful experience with my team and I learnt so much from them and their personal experiences as a designer or an ex-startup founder or a future teacher or a freelancer! And actually, it is weird to say that but I’m glad we didn’t win… Because it reminded me that you can have a ton of fun, learn so much and meet great and interesting people without, in the end, winning anything… The biggest reward is what you learned from this event… And I’ve done 16 of them! Each one brought me something different and you know what? I’m still thirsty for knowledge…
This article is dedicated to the Jeon family, Daniel Montes, Rohan Jadhav and Danielle Blum! Thank you for opening your home to a traveler just passing by!