How To Kick Ass At Startup Weekend: 5 Tools To Build A Winning Product


Guest post by: Mikael Cho, Founder,


Startup Weekend Montreal was one of the best events I have ever attended. The focus required to build a product within the constraint of a weekend is a unique opportunity to hunker down, create, and work alongside talented people.

As a member of the winning team at Montreal Startup Weekend in February 2012, I wanted to share some of the tools we used to help turn what was just an idea on Friday night into a viable business by Sunday.

1. Write Out Your Lean Canvas

You can go to or search “lean canvas” in Google images to get an example. The lean canvas is a 1-page sheet that lays out your business and should not take more than 15 minutes to make.

This 1-page sheet will be a core piece for everything you are about to create and do for the next 72 hours. It’s meant to be a document that continuously changes as you test different assumptions in your startup so don’t worry about if you make changes along the way.

Your lean canvas will also help you determine the minimum viable product (MVP) that you should be building.

2. Layout Milestones On A Big Whiteboard

Communication is key; make sure everyone knows what is expected. Writing milestones or tasks on a big whiteboard helps everyone on the team align and understand what needs to be done.

3. Use Twitter Bootstrap for rapid prototyping

Twitter Bootstrap is amazing for whipping up a nice looking prototype and it also allows for responsive design, which makes it easier to show a web and mobile (if applicable) vision of your product for your pitch. You can demo the product in an iPhone simulator and in a web browser which is great for showcasing a future vision.

4. File share the right way with Google Docs or Dropbox

E-mail is too messy. I would recommend setting up a Dropbox account for the team.

5. for collaborative coding

Track issues and share your code. Github probably goes without mentioning as a must.

6. Bonus: How you should structure your pitch

When presenting on Sunday, you should use a format similar to this:

Slide 1: Intro

Slide 2: Problem

Slide 3: Solution

Slide 4: Secret Sauce

Slide 5: Revenue Strategy

Slide 6: What you’ve accomplished during the weekend

Slide 7: Where you are going/what’s your plan

Slide 8: Team

Slide 9: Wrap-up (Top 2-3 points you want everyone to remember)

Slide 10: Conclusion

You don’t have to create a slick presentation with crazy animations. It’s infinitely better to spend more time figuring out the core strategic elements of your business rather than deciding if dividing blinds is a better transition than fade out.

Take from this list what you wish for your team and hopefully it will be helpful for your Startup Weekend project!