Startup Adelaide: A Story Of Me, Us and You

I’m going to tell you a story – it is a story of me, a story of us and a story of YOU.

In mid-2011 I attended the first Startup Weekend in Sydney.

For those of you who do not know what Startup Weekend is, it is a 54 hour event which facilitates the  building a startup company over the course of a weekend.

The event is powerful; it uses experiential learning, co-creation and behaviour change mechanics to get phenomenal business results.

What we were able to achieve as a team in those 54 hours was far more than I had done in the calendar year prior.

The problem was Adelaide didn’t have anything like this and that is the exact reason I had to fly to Sydney.

It’s a common story that if you live in Adelaide and want to do anything worthwhile you have to move away.

HAVE not WANT, being the operative word.

A friend of mine Dave and I wanted to build an active community around startup companies locally so we and others could leave by choice, not out of necessity.

So, to cut a long story short we ended up bringing the Startup Weekend event to Adelaide.

The first event was a success according to most metrics.

However we could have done it better.

We were good at certain things, but didn’t know all the answers.

And if we built a team that worked with us, not for us, we could grow this event into a movement.

And that is what we did.

And because of this the event has gone from strength to strength.

Fast forward 2.5 years, we grown the team to 26 people.

We have started a not-for-profit association promoting entrepreneurship locally, we hit Twitter trending topics and have a 300+ very active alumni community.

The lesson for me in creating a future I cared about was building a team based on what people want to do and are good at and empowering them to take ownership.

This is my story about co-creating a future I care about and the process showed me that a person, with a vision and small actions can make a difference.

You see my story is not unique, nor in isolation is it very remarkable.

But, my story is similar to many stories that are happening, beyond Startup Weekends.

So, I want to share with you, some stories of what others have done in co-creating futures they want to live into.

Kraft Foods were doing really well, but decided they could do better.

With the help of their customers, they built an online community to co-create a line of 48 additional branded products that then became a $100 million success story in its first six months.

Mountain Dew understood the power of their fans as well so they sent their best ambassadors new potential products to vote on.

These ambassadors then facilitated over 1m other customers participating in the new campaign which culminated in the creation of a range of best selling fan driven products.

Nike started Nike ID Online which allows customers to design Nike shoes made of different material and colours customized to the individual.

This idea alone tripled Nike online sales in the last decade.

That is pretty powerful.

Technology incubators such as Y Combinator will not invest in companies with less than 2 co-founders.

Y Combinator understands that having cofounders decreases the companies failure rates, allowing for a shared work load and forces complementary skills sets which gets more done faster.

Each of these 4 examples, either intentionally or unintentionally use the principles of co-creation to facilitate people working in collaboration to create a shared vision.

These stories show what can collectively been achieved when they couldn’t do it by themselves.

What I want you to get from these stories is that they all ultimately saw challenges and made a choice to empower people to work with them, not for them, which produced results far greater than what they could have done alone.

And they give us in this room hope that problems of similar magnitude, regardless of the commercial content can also be solved.

So, this is where I come to the story of “you.”

We all have things that we care about.

These problems create opportunities and a reason for you to take action.

Many of you are probably trying to solve problems alone or in small groups.

Yet, we have more information, more technology and we are far more connected than we ever have ever been before.

You are at a cross road.

In economics, over time compound interest can increase a small sum into a size many multiples larger.

If we apply the same principle of compound interest to what you are passionate about by multiplying creativity, imagine what you could do with a group who share a similar vision.

So how do you take action?

How do you turn your resources into what you want?

You need to co-create and use the principle of compound interest to add creativity beyond what you are capable of.

Here are the actions you need to do today to create the future you want to live into tomorrow.

  1. Commit, publicly about what you are passionate about;
  2. Work out what needs to be done AND by when; and
  3. Talk to everyone you come across about what you are trying to do and discover if they are up being part of your vision, then empower them to be involved in areas you lack and need help.

Just like Kraft, Mountain Dew, Nike and Y Combinator, if you do something together with others, you can have an impact far beyond anything you can achieve alone.

If you take action collectively on the things you are passionate about, the future will look a lot closer to what you want.

Will you stay on the sidelines or will your step in?

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