Very few things in the Silicon Valley tech scene are more refreshing than observing a group of gung ho, disruption-focused Stanford students waiting to share their idea to a group of 150 of the best and the brightest. But Microsoft was born this way, so, when we sponsored the last Startup Weekend at Stanford, we decided to go one step further, and do what we are good at. Some of our evangelists actually jumped in on some teams to help as much as we could.
This blog post was written by Nisha Baxi, Partner Marketing Manager of US Developer and Platform Evangelist operations for the West coast, Microsoft
Last weekend, I experienced my first Startup Weekend at Stanford University experience. Along with StartX, GSB and the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Microsoft hosted the overflowing think tank of doctors, lawyers, engineers and business folk, who, like me, excitedly watched as ideas were being pitched about 3D TV’s without glasses, location-based apps for sharing leftover food and mapping disease epicenters based on Facebook data. And 63 pitches later, 16 teams of 4-8 found a corner of Stanford’s famous Y2E2 building and began building. This went on for an entire weekend.
Our approach was far from the ordinary, but simple enough: join a team, roll up our sleeves and start coding. What better way to show the possibilities of Windows 8, Phone and Azure? Kevin Ashley, our resident app nut, with 13 apps in the store, joined a team that localizes organic food choices. Helen Zeng, the passionate fresh out of college grad, blended in well with a team that built a goal setting app. Our esteemed architect, John Alioto, worked with several teams on structuring their architectural vision, conceptualizing design, experimenting with alternative approaches and creating models. I spent most of time with a fashion startup that ultimately placed 2nd overall, going over their market competitors, customer acquisition strategy and the widely dreaded business model.
When the weekend was all said and done, the first place finisher was a hardware solution. Microsoft had several companies work on a Windows solution 1 for phone and 2 for Windows 8! Since the event, we have received over 10 requests for help building on Windows 8 & Windows Phone. Success! The lessons that I learned here re: show and don’t tell, immerse yourself and have fun! For more information on a Startup Weekend around you please visit: http://startupweekend.org/. They are hosting a huge Global Entrepreneurship Weekend starting on November 19.
This kind of participation is part of Microsoft BizSpark’s efforts to work closely with startup developers, to help them with turning their disruptive ideas into growing businesses and world-changing feats of entrepreneurial excellence.