Friday night I got along to a Heath Startup Weekend based at the Translational Research Institute, in an impressive facility behind the Princess Alexandra hospital. We have been interfacing with the startup community for some time so it was an excellent opportunity to do something a little more immersive as well as see what is happening in the health tech space. Health tech is interesting for us, because as the wearables market matures its a somewhat obvious progression to move into health, where ambulatory assessment is seen as increasingly advantageous to control skyrocketing patient care and assessment costs in a longitudinal sense. At the welcome drinks, there was an opportunity to speak to a lot of random people and it’s nice to experience serendipity of meeting people, on a similar path and hear what they were up to both personally and institutionally with others doing intrapreneurial things at other institutions in South East Queensland.
The weekend was facilitated by Aaron Kirkby, of River City Labs with a keynote by peripeptic academic and then some Clarence Tan. Plenty of grist for the mill for these two as the same old messages coming out of the sports technology community ring true here as well. Moore’s Law, disruptive technology etc.. Its a most exciting time to be alive said someone most of the country liked (at one stage anyway).
The premise is simple: get some entrepreneurial type people in a big room, lock the doors and see what happens under the guidance of master chef Kirkby.
Apparently, these Startup Weekends are a bit of a thing and there were quite a few junkies that do them regularly, some having done more than ten! The basic idea is to practice being a startup for a weekend as an immersive experienced see what comes out the other end as a potential startup and to develop some networks and find complimentary skill sets along the way. Attendees were invited to self-label themselves as Hackers, Hipster, Hustlers and something else I can’t remember. All roles were essential ingredients for a successful startup.
The evening starts with some social lubricants and pizza before we adjourn to the main hall for some introductory remarks, explanation of how the weekend works and Clarence’s keynote. Apparently its a life-changing experience for around 25% that attend, so I hope I’m not in for an existential crisis!
Whilst I had hoped to hide in the cheap sets, the first exercise, an icebreaker, the room is invited to yell out some words to be written on the whiteboard. We are all divided into small groups, have to pick 2 words and then pitch an idea to the whole room. Its great fun and establishes an immediate report and signals that this is a safe space to be at our creative best without judgement. A quick break and then the real fun starts. Everyone is invited to give a 60sec pitch of an idea to the whole room and about 40 people take up the opportunity. The ideas have various levels of maturity (some have obviously prepared and stretched the rules by bringing along prototypes) and direction, some even say they are in it to win the weekend and spruce their trash record, other say the team they are after from techies to hustlers that they want. We are all given 3 post-its and vote for the pitches by placing them next to the pitch title we like, some spruce their pitches one-on-one to win votes and attract team members. Those with enough votes and people willing to join them get to form a startup for the weekend. Too many or too few team members drive amalgamations of similar startups or shutdowns of projects. Nice!
Unfortunately, with a fully committed weekend, did I mention the world science fair is in Brisbane ( the first one outside of New York EVER!) that’s it for me and a shame too as wearables featured in quite a few of the pitches!. But hope to get back on the Sunday for a look at the final projects.