The 10th edition of Startup Weekend Luxembourg (SWLux) will take place from December 7th to the 9th at Technoport. We sat down with Benoît Fortemps (Microsoft), Sylvain Chéry (Agile Partner) and Diego De Biasio (Technoport), the core organization team members, to get some insight.
What is Startup Weekend Luxembourg all about?
Startup Weekend Luxembourg is an intense 54-hour event in which local entrepreneurs, developers, designers, marketers, product managers, startup enthusiasts and anyone interested in building a business can come together to share ideas, form teams, and potentially launch a startup. It is all about learning and meeting people who have the same passion. The process is simple: you subscribe, then you join on Friday evening. If you have an idea, you can pitch it in front of other participants (+/- 40% usually do it). Participants choose the 10 best ideas. Participants form teams, then work for the rest of the weekend to validate the idea as much as they can. Coaches come in on Saturday to challenge and advise the teams. Then, on Sunday, we have a jury that awards the 3 best ideas/concepts based on criteria such as how much work has been achieved during the weekend, the presence of a minimum viable product, how much validation has been achieved, and the general pitching performance.
But how did all this start? What is the story behind Startup Weekend Luxembourg?
Everything started in 2012 under the common interest of 4 individuals that had the same passion for entrepreneurship and developing the Luxembourgish startup ecosystem. We (Benoît, Sylvain, Yann and Diego) took to a simple analysis: nothing existed in the ecosystem to experiment entrepreneurship and validate ideas in a very quick way and in an almost real and safe environment. Our initial goal was not necessarily to push the creation of startups, but to change peoples’ mindset. We wanted to make them aware of what it takes to validate a concept or idea, and to give them the tools and knowledge for potential future projects they might have. We quickly chose the format for Startup Weekend, which is, in a nutshell, “How to build a startup in 54 hours!” or “Less talk – more action!” The passion and enthusiasm we have received from participants during this event pushed us to make it a recurrent annual event since.
“If you look at some of the biggest issues in the world, you find topics like climate change, air pollution, natural destruction, malnutrition, immigration and integration, education, access to renewable energies, gender equality, aging, water scarcity, well-being, and the Too Connected phenomenon.”
How has SWLux evolved since 2012?
The format is still the same. It is based on a validated and tested framework from a global organisation called Startup Weekend. It is still organized by volunteers, but the team has grown with additional members that joined over the years. We also tried to change the format by doing verticals like IoT and Smart Cities, and in 2019 we will organize one edition around Financial Services. But this 10th edition is a general one—all ideas are welcome. By the way, all coaches and jury members participate on a volunteer basis, and we would like to thank them all for their continuous support over the years. They are a core part of this success.
So there is no specific focus for this edition?
No, but we would like to encourage people to consider going big, to look at global challenges. If you look at some of the biggest issues in the world, you find topics like climate change, air pollution, natural destruction, malnutrition, immigration and integration, education, access to renewable energies, gender equality, aging, water scarcity, well-being, and the Too Connected phenomenon. They should not be afraid to think big, as they have nothing to lose in testing it during a weekend.
How do you finance this non-for-profit event?
We count on sponsorship for funding. For this edition, we are grateful to have already three sponsors: Vodafone, Letz’ make it happen, and Marks & Clerk.
Startup Weekend Luxembourg in numbers
Over the first 9 editions we had:
- Around 700 participants coming from over 12 different countries
- Over 50 coaches from all fields of expertise (public, private)
- 50 judges from all fields of expertise (public, private)
- 27 awarded pitches from 90 selected ideas
- An increasing media and social network presence