Marc Nager Explains Startup Weekend’s Secret Mission 

June 2, 2014

10:32 am

According to CEO Marc Nager, a funny thing happened when Startup Weekend started asking participants why they decided to attend. Surveyed before the event, they say they came to build a company. But surveyed after, they say they came to learn.

“The learning that we had is [to market] the sex appeal of creating a startup in a weekend,” Nager told Tech Cocktail at UP Summit. “Everybody knows you don’t do that. Then having that subversive [result] – alright, you show up, you went through this, haha, you learned things.”

For Startup Weekend, education really is the (less sexy) goal. Trying to build a company in a weekend just happens to be the way you learn.  

“We try to overthink things. We try to build frameworks and methodologies and curriculums around something that you truly have to learn, you can’t be taught. There’s only one way to learn – by doing it,” said Nager. And one of the big things you learn at Startup Weekend is around team – who do you work well with, and who drags you down? According to author Noam Wasserman, 65% of VC-funded startups fail due to management team problems. 

After Startup Weekend, entrepreneurs can sign up for UP Global’s NEXT, a five-week “pre-accelerator” program focusing on customer development. And again, while NEXT is marketed as a pre-accelerator, Nager also considers it a success when startups learn to build revenue on their own or decide to go straight to raising funding. NEXT was created to fill the gap between Startup Weekend and accelerators, but over the past year, Nager has learned that there’s still another gap – between Startup Weekend and NEXT.

Perhaps that’s a challenge we’ll see them tackling soon. In any case, Nager sees a long future for Startup Weekend – as far as 50 to 100 years down the road. “A world where everybody has the opportunity to experience and think like an entrepreneur – that’s a world I want to live in,” he said.  

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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