So you want to be a billionaire? Have the next great idea? Then, you should probably book the next flight to Stockholm. Yes, Stockholm. According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Stockholm is the seventh city in the world with the most opportunity right now. Mega brands like Spotify and SoundCloud originated here and there are over 700 hundred high tech companies in what is being hailed as Sweden’s Silicon Valley. With innovation companies like Vinnova and events like Stockholm Tech, Stockholm has already become a force to be reckoned with. Successful entrepreneurs will tell you having the idea is the beginning, execution is what truly matters. Launching a startup requires unparalleled commitment, sound analysis and bit of luck. In addition, most neophyte entrepreneurs fail to fully understand five of the most common risks they will encounter.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. StartUp Stockholm Weekend is a non-profit backed by uber brands Google and Coca-Cola. Their bold brand promise is to help entrepreneurs “Launch a StartUp in 54 Hours – No Talk, All Action”.

The most recent StartUp Weekend delivered on that promise, and then some, with a rigorous three day hackathon bootcamp for budding entrepreneurs. The event began on Friday evening with participants immediately presenting a problem and offering their solution. Then, those ideas are voted upon by the participants to identify the most viable. Negotiation skills are sharpened as participants jockey to be on the team they felt was the best fit. The StartUp organizers encourage organic formation of the teams based on an honest assessment of skills.

For the next two days, teams worked feverishly to fully develop the business and revenue models. The pressure was palpable as these highly driven, talented professionals began the process of identifying team member roles in preparation for the final presentation in front of a panel of judges. There was an enormous amount of support from coaches, including myself, always willing to offer feedback and help refine the business models. The event culminated on Sunday with the final pitches (presentations) being delivered within a very realistic five minute time frame. The goal with this event is progress – the pitches, replete with active websites and supporting data, were a great indicator of the event’s success. The judges? A Shark-Tank-like panel of very successful, seasoned professionals including Tyler Crowley (Advisory Board Member – SUP46), Marta Sjögren (Venture Capitalist) and Tony Friede (Project Manager, Vinnova). They were very well-versed in the challenges and adept in assessing the viability of the concepts.

The Startup Weekend is essentially an accelerated incubator that provides a safe place for entrepreneurs to move the needle from ideation to execution. I look forward to reading the long list of future CEOs that the StartUp brand will inevitably produce.

Some Key Points For Entrepreneurs To Remember When Pitching

  • Know Your Audience
  • Start with the Problem and Offer Your Solution
  • What Added Value Does Your Solution Have
  • Your Pitch Needs a Beginning, Middle & End
  • Trial Close
  • Ask For The Business
  • Smile

Photo: 401(K) / Flickr

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