Startup Weekend Nantes (SW#1): A big event and a 3rd place!

I hitchhiked all the way to Nantes from Angers (France) and arrived just in time for the warm up and pitchs opening! This is the story of this awesome weekend!

  1. ID Card
  • Startup Weekend Nantes #SWNA
  • 130 participants
  • About 15 coaches & mentors
  • About 60% Male & 40% Female! Each team was actually mixed!
  • Youngest participant met: 19 yo
  • Oldest participant met: about 50 yo
  • Participants were very diversified! 3 categories represented pretty equally.
    • Non-technical (Business wizards): about 40% — In most Startup Weekends, this category is the most represented. Each team had at least a Non-Technical person.
    • Designers (Drawing Wizards…): about 35% — Usually, designers are the people every team wants because they are scarce. However, in SWNA, a group of friends studying design together came! Therefore, each team had at
      least a designer.
    • Developers (Coding wizards): about 25% — A bit more scarce than the other profiles but still pretty well represented! Most of team had a developer but not each one of them as it was the case for the team I joined for example.

Pink (Developers) / Yellow (Designers) / Blue (Business)
Startup Weekend Nantes

Organization: We assisted to the 6th edition of SWNA! Organizers knew how it works. They got used to it. I noticed it! There were at least 8 people in the organizing team and they did a great job!

Venue: The Cantine Atlantic 2.0 is quite an interesting place! It’s a mixt between modernity and past. You seem to enter in an old building through a traditional façade before getting in a very nice corridor surrounded by kind of modern sheds built on floors. And, last but not least, it is in downtown! So you can get out of the building to ask people whatever you want to! So, definitely +1 for the venue!

2. Pitchs and teams
We saw in total 37 pitchs! It’s about 1/3rd of all participants; quite a lot! 7 women and 30 men pitched! Ideas were pretty diversified: many around culture and travelling, some about the sharing economy, the inevitable party mobile app. And some others ideas were more challenging such as an automated Business Plan generator or a connected desktop light! Of course, I saw many web applications or mobile app but this is normal, over a weekend, it’s the easiest way! I saw that originality was more on marketplaces: students searching for fundings from the State, people who want to cut their hair at little prices for example.At the end, 17 teams were selected to follow the Startup Weekend adventure! Wow! I was impressed to see such numerous teams! It means that we will see at least 17 presentations for the finals on Sunday.

3. The team I joined
I chose to join the smallest team (4 people). Léo, the leader of the team was very cool, easygoing and we had a lot in common so I chose to bet on the person 🙂
Startup Weekend NantesThis is how I got in the team Cutit! We basically made a web platform to find people (students, professionals or anyone) with hairdressing skills in order to cut your hair at home. You can access to a very broad ranch of prices and a quality guaranteed by the web platform. Imagine a platform like AirBnB for the hairdressing service!
From the very beginning, and that was awesome by the way, SWNA attributed to each team a mentor! That’s how we met Karim who was great and who really pushed us to get out of the building to get feedbacks from potential users, hairdresser and potential clients from the streets of Nantes!

Our advantages

  • Being a small team! It made communication easier. We were very pragmatic on the decision making process.
  • We had two wonderful designers that turned Cutit into something pretty, alive and touching.
  • We spent at least 5 hours in Nantes’ streets talking to people and getting feedbacks! That allowed us to show a tough Customer Validation! A key element in a Startup Weekend…
  • Two good pitchers. Léo and I took care of that and we had great ideas to make it original and unforgettable!
  • Not a big technological challenge. Well it can be a disadvantage as weel but our marketplace was smart and actually interesting. So we just needed to build a way to get people in touch. Nothing more…

Our weaknesses

  • A small team… We had to spend more time on crucial points. Divided task was less efficient than in big teams.
  • No technical background. There was indeed none developers who joined the team so we got quickly limited on the prototype we would present on Sunday. Hopefully, in my opinion, having designers is more important. And we had two: Anne-Lise and Maéla!
  • An idea not very “sexy”. We were not working on the next connected object neither on a new technology to do anything important. We were just putting in relation people who want to cut their hair with people who can do it in exchange of money! So, we had to show smartly that we could bring value to both actors!

What we achieved

  • We built pretty mock-ups and we draw our inspiration from other platforms such as AirBnB, Couchsurfing or the French carpooling platform BlaBlaCar. Our prototype was user friendly and not superficial at all; we could see quickly what we proposed and how we proposed it!
  • Startup Weekend NantesBy going outside a lot, we got a strong Customer Validation, meaning that we got the proof that people would be keen to use our solution. We show that people sized valued in it! Moreover, the fact of having spent so much time outside made us ready to answer to all questions of the jury.
  • We succeed in finding professional hairdressers interested in using our solution! This is another great argument to add to the customer validation! Indeed we called 3 hairdressers who were ready to work with us!
  • We had from A to Z a great team spirit! We were only four and we didn’t walk all over ourselves. We managed to make synergy, good synergies! While the two designers were working on mock-ups, logo types and other graphics, Léo and I were outside, working on the business model, gathering information about the market or preparing the final pitch! What a hell of a team!

4. Final pitch
On the 17 initial projects, only two really pivoted on their core characteristics! All the other ones stayed much linked to their initial idea! 17 pitchs is a lot! It took about 1hour30min in total!Our final pitch was very original since I got my hair cut in front of everyone… See the picture here and video here! That was to show that our idea was actually already on the tracks! Thanks to all our efforts towards customer validation, the jury really saw that our solution brings value despite the fact that it’s not very “sexy” or impressive! Challenge succeeds!

Startup Weekend Nantes

We got the 3rd place on 17 projects with the smallest team of the weekend! Léo, the leader of the group, really wants to continue with it and I wish him all the luck with that!

5. Conclusion of the Startup Weekend Nantes
It was great, very well organized and all projects were very qualitative thanks to a good diversity of skills in teams! For example, every team had at least demonstrative mock ups! That means that everyone was able to show their idea through design and images! This is a key in a presentation to make it clearer!

I really learned not to go to fast and get feedbacks first! Going on streets and talking to people is soooo valuable! Not doing it is like working in a cage without light. #CustomerValidation

  • Something that can be improved in SWNA would be on the values shared with participants. I had the feeling sometimes that we spent more time talking about money or how to attract investors than more basics things such as what we’re going to learn from each other, or how our project bring value to people.So, I’ll come back for sure to Nantes for another SW if I can but right now, I’m heading toward Galway in Ireland!!! Thank you again to the organzers! You were great!

    6. Startup Weekend Nantes winners
  • 1st HedHunter: Students always got problem finding financiers aids from the State to support their studies. It is hard to know all of them and it takes time to apply to them. HedHunter does it for you…
  • 2nd OpenTrip: Going on vacation is complicated… You have to choose a location, a date, your hostel, the budget etc. Don’t worry, just tell OpenTrip your budget and availabilities and it’ll suggest you the right destinations.
  • 3rd Cutit: You already know it if your read everything above… An awesome platform to get your hair cut at a fair ratio quality/price!

This article is dedicated to Léo Courbon and his roomate Quentin Sim for opening their home to a traveler just starting his travel…


2 thoughts on “Startup Weekend Nantes (SW#1): A big event and a 3rd place!

  1. Great article Francois ! That is so cool the way you share your trip ! I wish you all the best and look forward for the next one ! With more pics and video I hope !

  2. Hi F! I’m so proud of you!!!!! It’s amazing to see you like that, I hop everything gonna be ok, I’m waiting the next SW 😉


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