Athens Startup Weekend University – The experience of an outsider

Last week I was present in one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long time, Athens Startup Weekend, University. For the ones not familiar with the concept, Startup Weekend attendees form teams to develop a product or business in one weekend, with the help of experienced mentors. In this case the attendees are university students. So what is it about it that made me talk non stop for a week about it, causing everyone to look in either awe or frustration?

The place

The whole event took place in a beautiful place, Impact HUB Athens. I cannot even start to describe the beauty, let it speak for itself through some of the footage I captured during the event.

It’s not just me saying that. Take a look at what others had to say:

The decision for the event to be hosted in such a place makes perfect sense, since it inspires (heck it inspired me) and encourages someone to stay longer. Little classic diamond in the centre of the city.

The food offered during the breaks was delicious, a real torture while I waited for it to be ready. Here is me tweeting whilst smelling the bacon.

The organisers

During the weekend I had the pleasure to meet both the organisers and the volunteers that took care of every detail without a single complaint. So nice to have cheerful, polite and helpful people around! Kudos guys, you are the best. The best!

The contestants

Athens Startup Weekend Attendees
Athens Startup Weekend Attendees

In all the time I’ve been a university student, never have I seen more enthusiastic contestants! The chance of them being at the same room would be pretty slim if it hadn’t been for the event. From the first minute, I could see them discuss ideas, having a nice time, filling the place with positive vibe! Made me wish I was still a student.

The thing is, that even if I was a student, I seriously doubt I would have been in such a situation. Having spent all my university years in Thessaloniki, I have never seen similar enthusiasm by the students in similar events and never such an organized and empowering event.

Where is the fun people?

You would utter the world business to a student and see him flee to the nearest coffee place to avoid the boredom/hassle/pain/whatever. Maybe the times changed, maybe it’s the people. Anyhow it is about time things got more interesting.

During the weekend I got to talk to some of the contestants while they tried to get votes for their ideas (I felt a little bad stealing some of their time, sorry guys!). However, even if I couldn’t vote for the ideas, the contestants went on explaining what they tried to do. Some of them liked explaining so much, they didn’t even care. Maybe because they actually believed their idea was feasible. They made me believe in it, too. Carry on, this is the way to go.

The winners

What could I possibly say about the winners! Some had amazing presentations (such a huge issue, I should probably discuss presentations in another post), some had amazing designs, some really great ideas! At one point I could definitely see the next Steve+Woz combo. More about the winning ideas here!

Final thoughts

All in all, the potential of such an event was amazing. There is no doubt that the whole experience is much more valuable than attending the daily course – No hard feelings professors but it’s true. Time to up your game. Networking felt like a natural thing, no need to push people into it. A really big annoyance was the instability of the wifi. I was really lucky to have a network connection available when I needed it so I could do my job properly (had to miss a meal once). But, overall, it left a very positive feeling. I’ll be getting more excited each day, as I see the progress of not just the winning ideas evolve each day. Also I’m really looking forward to the London Fashion Startup Weekend! I might have the chance to be there myself! Who’s with me?

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