Andrew Hyde on Growing the Largest Hackathon Series in the World

"I've been lucky a lot" 

Andrew Hyde, founder of Startup Weekend, admits immediately that his success has in some part been down to luck. Being in the right place at the right time. However it was his ability to make connections and introductions that meant he was the right entrepreneur for the job. 

Andrew was keen to emphasise how things for Startup Weekend started off small. With a $0 budget and their first event being held above a bike shop. 

It has since become a global phenomenon with 158 countries taking part. 

Andrew shared some lessons he has learnt from Startup Weekend and the 200,000 participants he has helped inspire: 

Core values matter.

“Stuff happens in this industry and it doesn’t matter, really, except for who you are. So really figure that out.”

Speaking from the fact that most startups scramble in wanting to be a unicorn, getting on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine, and many other superficial things, Andrew stressed core values are what’s really important.

“What are your values? What do you want to build? Spend a year on that.”

Give up control.

“If you’re going to be a startup and if you’re going to be a community, you have to be alright with other people taking your message and empowering it.” 

Case in point: when Startup Weekend partnered with NASA and Lancaster, they both tweaked the logo. Andrew admits that this isn’t the best way to build a brand, but he allowed it because he was keen to build ongoing partnerships and a community.

“You have to give up control and realize that what you give is just the beginning.” With that said, Andrew shared a concept called “story of a story”.

If you pitch your startup to a friend and your friend tells someone else about your idea--that’s where it all begins. And that story is what you’re going to obsess over if you want to be successful.

If your “story of a story” does well, then your business will do well. If your story of a story fails, then your business will fail.

Do the work.

You have to do the work. There is no secret sauce that will get around the actual work.

Interestingly, however, there’s a formula citing Foundation, Experience, and Growth from a book called The Startup Equation: A Visual Guidebook to Building Your Startup. The book claims it has been tested and it works for most successful startups today.

Half day, every day.

Andrew shared his favorite quote from the same book: "The trick to running a successful startup is just working half a day, but every day, and it doesn't matter if it's the first 12 hours or the second 12 hours, but just half a day, every day."

Hilarious as it sounds, this is the blatant truth. You can’t have a million dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic. You have to hustle. You have to put in the work and you have to be passionate about it.

Understand community.

“If it isn’t who you are, you’re going to fail. You might be successful but then you’re going to become disinterested and not be core to who you are.”

“Understand what community means to be a big startup.” Saying that this is not an obvious thing to a lot of people, Andrew defined what community is:

He explained that in a community, things work out when everyone feels welcomed, valued, and there’s room to be grow. Issues like diversity and socio economic backgrounds don’t last when you nail these down.

“Ask yourself when you’re building an event, ask yourself when you’re putting up a post--ask yourself when you're saying any messaging--is this going to make somebody not feel welcome, am I not valuing somebody that wants to be involved?”

Understand your goals.

A lot of people build community for the company--internally. If you’re an angel investor, this means better deals, and for a startup, this means a better hiring pool.

“It all comes down to intent--why are you doing this? Why are you the person in that situation?”

“If you can beat that intent, your story is going to go so much farther.”

We vs. Them

Andrew is firm on discarding the “them” concept:

“Try never to say ‘them’. There’s no such thing as ‘them’, there’s no such such thing as ‘they don’t get it’, there’s no such thing as ‘they’re not part of us’. There’s no such thing as them when you’re talking about a culture--a community--it’s all about we.”

Style

Style means being you. Work hard to be you, not someone else. Otherwise, it just seems you did something for someone else.

Coaching

Coaching is an odd concept because the startup landscape is constantly evolving. Ask yourself, what’s happening now? If you get a mentor, they’re going to teach you what worked at that time they succeeded. So, don’t overlook the landscape today, because that also largely matters for you to succeed.

What’s next?

Andrew ends his presentation by asking: “What is next for you? What are you going do after this event?”

He goes on, “What are you going to do in this next year to make a fundamental impact on Sydney, this country, or the world abroad?” These are pretty big questions that intend to strike a sense of urgency and purpose among startup founders in the conference."

Andrew says, “I hope you’re excited about the answers that you came up with. Did you think of something that you want to build instantly or did you think of the people you wanted to build it with? I think that’s much more important.”

Startup Weekend has been launched in 158 countries, with over 200,000 participants, 3,000 events, and 24,000 teams.