Last weekend we ran our second H2 Ventures Startup Weekend. It was a fantastic weekend where 80 startup enthusiasts came together at the brand new WeWork co-working space in Pyrmont, Sydney, to learn-by-doing the key principles of starting a successful startup. If you ask anyone who attended they will tell you the number one principle is to validate, validate, validate and then validate some more. This involved the contestants getting out of the building to speak to their potential customers about their problems, the proposed solution and the proposed business model to ensure they are developing a business that someone (ideally a large number of people) will pay for.

It all started at 5pm on Friday evening. When I entered the room I was excited to see that we had a good gender balance among the participants (41% female, we want to get to parity next time) and as we asked questions of the crowd it also became apparent that we had people from all over the world and many who had flown in from across Australia just to attend the event!

As the evening progressed and 12 teams of about 4-6 people formed organically we started to get a feel for what the weekend would be like. This was particularly exciting for me as our last startup weekend had been focused on fintech but this one was open to all types of startups which meant there was a lot more variety in the business concepts, and gee whiz was there variety, ranging from an app for managing the health of your guinea pig to a service for providing customised healthy lunches to school kids.

As the weekend progressed the teams worked with a brilliant team of mentors (including Al Bentley, Adam Hejl, Simon Lenoir, Jemma Enright, Sid Sahgal, Kevin Convington, Manish Manish, Shaun Eislers, Stacey Scott and Rod Elliott) to refine their ideas and, of course, validate them with real customers. As we approached 5pm Sunday the teams were urgently finalising their presentations for the esteemed panel of judges (Ian Gardiner, Holly Cardew, Cathy Kovacs, Angela Kwan and Balder Tol). From 5-7pm the pitches took place and the early favourites started to appear. In the end there was a tie for 3rd place between Team Goldie (Chhitesh Shrestha, Leigh Hskson, Liang Zoe and Rebecca Zhang) and Team FeedmyKid (Jasmin Nielsen, Mitch Ball, Paul Addy, Varshaa Pallaath and Phillip Thai). The runner up was Team Pay it Forward (Alana Yick, Ruth Saw, Feng Guo, Trev Doddrell and Caly Yang) and the winning team was MyNurse (Amelia Kennedy, Niklas Fink, JK Menon, William Merdy and David Quan). While all the teams were fantastic and the judges had faced a difficult job to have to pick the winners, I was particularly impressed with the MyNurse team and was happy to see them take first place.

This whole event is run to support the community and involved a lot of people volunteering their time to make it happen. Huge thanks to everyone involved, the participants for their enthusiastic effort throughout the weekend, the organisers, mentors and helpers for giving up their valuable time to support the community, and the judges for listening to 12 pitches and maintaining their concentration on 12 very different concepts over a 2 hour period (trust me, this is not easy).

This event could not happen without the generous support of our corporate partners lead by our Principal Partner Westpac (particularly Cathy Kovacs) as well as our sponsors Accru Felsers (particularly Will Merdy) and Amazon Web Services (Particularly Ian Gardiner), and our venue partner WeWork (Particularly Balder Tol, Emily Isla and Lauren Keith). Thank you again to all of you for getting behind this!

Finally a special thanks to Al Bentley and the Simply Wall St team (especially Adam Hejl and Jabin Bastian) who are so instrumental to and supportive of this event and of course Melissa Hurwitz who makes it all happen. Without Mel there is no way this event would be able to take place! Finally a special thanks to Navjot Brar who flew in from California to facilitate this event. It was great to meet you and to have your global perspective in running this event.

You can find more photos of the event on our H2 Facebook page and my Instagram.

We will be running another event later in the year. Register for the H2 newsletter today so that we can keep you posted as soon as it is announced.