“This weekend we recreated the future of fashion and now I will share with you how…”
That was the opening line of my pitch at the QUT CEA Fashion Start-up Weekend and that’s exactly what we did over the weekend, spanning 54 hours.
The amazingly talented Puctto.co team consisted of: Belinda the visionary and graphic designer (and Puctto Founder); Bethany, fashion expert and research extraordinaire; Ruhma, creative content development and research; and me, interviewer of fashionistas and pitch volunteer.
Belinda and I met our co-creators Bethany (student and fashion designer) and Ruhma (civil engineer student) on Friday night, after being selected as one of the six start-ups developed over the weekend. We set about collecting customer information, researching ideas, validating problems and creating innovative solutions, all while being mentored by leading fashion and start-up experts. The finale, a pitch event, in front of impressive judges, superstars of the fashion industry and the other amazing start-up teams.
"Not only do you learn what to do, you can hear lessons learnt from others of what not to do."
This was my first start up weekend and now that I am starting to recover from the excitement and exhaustion, I’m happy to report that I would definitely do it again and here’s why:
1. You get to hang out with people who share your passion – it’s a great feeling to be in a space where age, gender, status, background doesn’t matter, because you’re all connected by a passion.
2. Spark new ideas – even though you might take an idea to the weekend, what you walk in the room with is far from what you walk out with. It’s exciting to be creating with people that share your passion, but bring different experiences and mindsets to spark new connections.
3. Get your creative problem solving on – in a room of innovators, it’s not hard to think outside the box. I don’t even think there was a box. Crazy ideas floating around the room. At one stage over the weekend we had kitten saving socks, unisex children’s clothes delivered via unicorns and a new seaweed resort wear.
4. Gain momentum – it doesn’t matter if your idea is created on the day or if you have been hatching a start-up plan for years, the amount of work you can get done in 54 hours with the passion and energy of a team fully committed is extraordinary. There are no distractions of work, house chores, family needs or pets that want attention. Add in skilled mentors on hand to answer all those ‘too hard basket’ questions and you can achieve weeks of work in just two days.
5. Step outside your comfort zone – because that’s where all the fun is. The environment is set as a place where it’s okay to be different, no idea is dumb, everyone is awkward and as long as you are learning and contributing, you belong.
6. Build foundation skills – Communication, planning + organising, initiative, teamwork, adaptability + flexibility, problem solving + decision making, safety awareness, resilience, innovation, leadership, cultural awareness and information technology. Every single one of the My Career Passport foundation skills were used and expanded over the weekend. So if you’re looking to improve your ability and gain experiences to sell your ability to employers a start-up weekend is definitely the place for you.
7. Meet and connect with industry superstars – expand your network with the right people. Start-up weekends can connect you with business mentors, industry leaders, service providers and superstars that share your passions. Over the weekend we were grateful for all of the mentors that provided support and advice, with special mention to Ian Mason - Head of Development, Virgin Start Up who ignited ideas and helped us to be pitch ready; Deanne Luke from The Bleecker Group, with her advice on monetisation; Laura Churchill from Brisbane Fashion Month, for her feedback, excitement and encouragement.
8. Learn what not to do – Not only do you learn what to do, you can hear lessons learnt from others of what not to do. I am a big believer in making your own judgement and walking your own journey, but it is great to hear from people that have experienced it and found an easier path.
9. Get free stuff – Have all of your needs met by the event organisers…a creative space with wifi, tech needs, coffee, meeting spaces, food, innovative people, more coffee and thanks to sponsors a goodie bag full of cool free stuff. A big shout out to the amazing team at QUT Creative Enterprise Australia for organising the Start-up Weekend Fashion and sponsors The Print Bar, Redbull and Vegie Chips for our goodies.
10. Pitch your heart out – Okay so pitching isn’t the most natural feeling. But, when you’ve just worked your butt off for the last 54 hours, it’s great to have the opportunity to tell everyone about it. Plus, there’s an added bonus when you have people in the audience that can expose you to further opportunities.
11. It’s FUN!!! – I don’t feel the need to explain this one.
I can highly recommend this as an experience to add to your bucket list. Check out start-up events happening near you!!
Crystal McGregor is the co-founder of Puctto, a virtual change room and fashion-based social media platform. Along with founder Belinda Scott, the pair are looking for an investor for the start-up to grow the platform and scale globally.
For further information or to connect, contact email@example.com