Startups: A Launch48 weekend experience


Over the past weekend (17-May to 19 May) in Cape Town, South Africa I took part in a Launch48 weekend event. If you found this article because you were searching for information on Launch48, I hope after reading this you are convinced that it is something you should attend. If you don’t know what I am talking about yet, well enjoy the read and hopefully it will inspire you to take part in similar events.

This is my narrative of a Launch48 weekend experience.

What is Launch48?

Launch48 is an initiative started up and run out of London, England. Their main objective is to bring together people that want to be part of a digitally inspired startup. Launch48’s aims is to bring together people with different skill sets, experience and dreams to create ideas, build products and launch their own startups.

Launch48 runs various types of programs or events around the world with the goal to inspire, facilitate and guide budding entrepreneurs to reach for their dreams and give them the encouragement to pursue building their own startup.

They carry this out in the form of a “Launch48 weekend” event. Launch48 now runs events in 25 different cities around the world.

How a Launch48 Weekend works

The aim of the weekend is to pitch a digitally inspired startup idea and work in teams to create the idea over the weekend. Effectively creating a startup in 48 hours.

Friday: The weekend starts off on the Friday evening where everyone taking part in the weekend attends. In this session whoever would like to pitch an idea can do so. As an attendee you are not required to pitch an idea, but lets be honest, if you have an opportunity to pitch a potential startup idea that would be worked on and created over a weekend, just go for it!

Each pitch is strictly 60 seconds long. This can be nerve wrecking but makes total sense as the elevator pitch is a common occurrence in the entrepreneurial world. Once all the pitches are done, everyone involved votes on their favorite ideas and a number of the most popular ideas are chosen. After a tally of votes are done, the popular ideas get another 60 seconds pitch to recap their idea to the audience, after which the final round of voting happens and the most popular ideas are chosen. The number of final ideas chosen varies with regards to the number of people attending the event.

Once the ideas are chosen everyone gets the chance to join the team of their choosing. As it is a weekend where a certain amount of work is needing to be completed they do encourage a fair distribution of available skills so teams are able to create what they set out to. But at the end of the day, it really does come down to your own preference and interest as to which idea you end up working on, which I feel is really important as you do not want to be stuck working on something that does not interest you in the least.

Weekend: The weekend is spent working on your startup idea, following certain guidelines set forth by the Launch48 facilitators. The Launch48 organisers do a great job by getting various mentors, with varying experience and skills, involved to help guide teams as to how best approach their ideas.

Sunday: On the Sunday final pitches take place in-front a panel of judges. These pitches are 5 minutes long and is meant to showcase your creation as well as cover aspects such as what will be done going forward to further develop your idea. After the pitching, the judges vote on different awards to be given out. After the awards are given out, it is time to party and network!

Launch48 does not take any ownership of ideas generated at the event, they are purely there to facilitate the process. Each team decides how they want to continue after the weekend.

My Launch48 Weekend experience

I have never done a 60 second business pitch before, it really is an interesting experience to put oneself through. For everyone pitching, it was clear that was the general consensus. Pitching an idea in-front of a bunch of strangers can be nerve wracking but the Launch48 Facilitator Simon McCann made everyone feel at ease and confident by creating an atmosphere comfort and no judgement, which worked great.

My idea was not chosen to take further, but I learnt a great deal of insight into what an elevator pitch is all about and what should be included in such a pitch. I feel that was greatly valuable in my experience. I went on to join a team and work on their idea. My main focus in the team was marketing and design, areas I really enjoy, so I had no complaints in that regard.

There were 5 different ideas worked on during the event. Each idea was vastly different from the next, with different objectives to complete during the weekend. This is a great testimony to what Launch48 is all about. The weekend was full of fun and excitement. Everyone was grinding away on their own ideas but also socialising between groups. I got to meet a great deal of interesting people throughout the weekend.

At the end of the weekend when everyone had to pitch their ideas to the judges I realised a very important part of startups, pitching those ideas and what a Launch48 weekend is all about. Ideas are not judged on what you are doing over the weekend, but what you present in a 5 minute pitch. The same goes for presenting an idea to investors; it really is about the idea, a showcase of that idea and a road-map to carrying out that idea. If you leave something out in those 5 minutes it does not matter to the judges/investors.  If you create a full prototype but cannot showcase the functionality as well as explain the idea in 5 minutes then your time in creating a prototype would have been better served focusing on a different aspect of the idea at hand.

The event was exceptionally well organised. It took place at The Barn which is a great facility for aspiring entrepreneurs who are looking for office space and business incubator programs. There was never a lack of food or refreshments, which is always a bonus in my book. This is all thanks to Lianne Du Toit, the South African organiser for the event who did an amazing job.

I prefer to have a good time and learn a great deal at the same time, and that is what I got out of a Launch48 Weekend.

Biddalo: Online Wildlife Auctions

The team I joined worked on an idea to create a online bidding platform for the buying and selling of Wildlife. Currently auctions for wildlife are done offline, with the animals having to be transported to and from auction sites. These animals undergo various amounts of stress during this process. The transportation around these animals is also a costly affair for all parties involved.

By using an online platform to auction off wildlife it would alleviate these expenses as well as reduce the stress on the animals. Using an online platform to carry these auctions out would also increase the number of potential buyers and in turn increase potential profits for the sellers.

Our team did a great job and we ended taking home one of the three awards given out by the judges, the Customer Discovery Award


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Aidan Blundell

Digital Enthusiast, Novice Longboarder, Strategically Inclined, Foodie always having something to say about anything.

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