Participant FAQ

Before the Weekend

Q: Is this event for me?

A: If you are interested in entrepreneurship the answer is most likely yes. Whether you are a serial entrepreneur or new to the startup scene, you’ll fit right in as long as you are motivated to build a product or startup and open to new ideas. We believe that great ideas can come from anywhere.

The event is intended to be a collaborative and inclusive forum for sharing, learning, building, 

and having fun. We expect each member of the startup community to be inclusive of all people and their ideas at Startup Weekend and we welcome all, regardless of experience, industry or background.

Q: Do I have to participate in all three days?

A: Apart from the organising team, mentors, speakers, event volunteers and judges, everyone who participates in the event is expected to participate in all three days. This is important not only to preserve your own learning experience, but also to minimise distractions or disruptions for the team you choose to join. We welcome any friends, family or colleagues you would like to invite to watch your final presentation to see all you have accomplished in just one weekend. Please check the registration page of your city’s website or reach out to the event organiser for availability.

Q: How do I register?

A: Every Startup Weekend event has a corresponding website with a registration page. Check out the Techstars ticketing page for tickets to Startup Weekend Tairāwhiti. You can buy a ticket when you press "register". We have limited early bird tickets for NZD 50 and regular tickets for NZD 70. Please see our events page at https://www.techstars.com/events for a complete list of upcoming events.

Q: Do I need a team?

Everyone who attends the event as an attendee is expected to come to the event without a team and then join and participate on a team at the event. This is important to preserve the Startup Weekend educational experience. The ideal team consists of members with diverse backgrounds and experience who share knowledge to build a great minimum viable product (MVP) using the Lean Canvas. The more people you have on your team to help you do market research and business model development, the quicker you’ll develop an MVP to pitch on Sunday. 

Q: What ticket type should I purchase to pitch an idea?

A: Pitching is open to every participant! We recommend you purchase the ticket that best represents your skillset. 

Q: Do I have to pitch an idea to attend?

A: No, but we highly encourage you to. You can pitch an idea you've been thinking about for years, or something last minute you think of during the event, but don’t pitch an idea that you’ve already been developing or have been working on outside of Startup Weekend. The point of the event is to learn how to go from ideation to product. 

Pitching provides invaluable practice for public speaking. You won’t regret pitching, but might regret not pitching. 

Q: Where can I find a schedule for the event?

A: Each event has their schedule posted on the local event website. Schedules are usually available around 3 weeks before the start of the event. 

Q: How do I prepare?


Q: What is the refund policy?

A: Full refunds are available up to three days before the first day of the event. These can be processes through the humanitx site where you purchased your ticket.

During the Weekend

Q: What happens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday?

A: Friday: 

The Friday evening at a Startup Weekend is all about welcoming participants to the event, making sure that everyone knows what will happen throughout the weekend, running the pitch fire and facilitating team formation.

The “Pitchfire” will commence: anyone intending to pitch will have 60 seconds to give their best pitch. No presentations are needed for Friday, it will just be you and a mic. After pitches are finished, all participants will vote on their favorites, and using these votes, the top ideas will be selected to be worked on over the weekend. Then it’s Networking/ Ice breaker time, allowing participants to get to know each other before announcing the top selected ideas. The Facilitator will provide guidance on team formation. Then teams will form organically on the event communication platform, consolidate, and get to know each other and begin working.


Teams will work all day, with the occasional breaks and opportunity to attend short online workshops. In the afternoon mentors will be available to provide advice in the field of their expertise for those teams that want it. The organiser will provide mentor signup sheets online for the team to schedule their meeting.


Teams will work uninterrupted from morning until 3PM to finalize and submit their Final presentation. Each team typically has 5 minutes plus around a 4 minute Q&A from the judges (this varies occasionally). The judges will select the top teams, who will be awarded prizes (if applicable), and the event usually ends with a small celebratory get-together. 

Q: What types of ideas can I pitch?

A: All business ideas are welcome, whether it’s for-profit or non-profit organisations. Our events have an explicit focus on impact - social, environmental or economic. The ideas do not have to be tech related, however given the short timeframe to develop your product, we recommend that even non-tech ideas focus on a scalable tech-related deliverable (for example, a website) by Sunday to be able to demonstrate the Minimum Viable Product.

Q: Can I pitch more than one idea?

A: Everyone gets one opportunity to pitch on Friday night - just one. If you have multiple ideas, prioritise your best idea and pitch that. 

Q: Can I pitch my existing business?

A: No. Startup Weekend is designed to be the most effective platform for growing new businesses from the ground up over the course of a weekend. A key facet of the weekend, and a central value for participants, is the spirit of complete collaboration, buy-in, and ownership. We’ve found that having existing businesses in the mix undermines this spirit, in addition to creating an imbalance between those ideas that are truly conceived at the grass-roots level. 

Q: What if my idea doesn’t get selected?

A: The purpose of the Friday voting isn’t to exclude certain ideas, but simply to highlight the most popular and high-potential pitches and end up with a manageable number of teams - ensuring that each team has a variety of backgrounds and skills. If your idea isn’t selected, but you’ve managed to form a team (must be 3 or more) around the idea, you’re welcome to work on it over the weekend. If you decide to do so, however, please tell the event Organiser and Facilitator.

Q: Am I expected to work for 54 hours?

A: No. At some events, certain teams will decide to work all through Friday and/or Saturday night, but this is by no means obligatory or expected. 

Q: What resources/assistance is provided over the weekend? 

A: A key part of every Startup Weekend is the valuable advice and assistance provided by the event’s speakers and mentors. In the spirit of our motto, “No Talk, All Action,” we try to keep talks short and sweet, focusing on practical issues (i.e. “How to give a persuasive pitch” and “Best approaches to customer validation”) that can actually help you and your team better achieve your weekend goals. Mentors - community experts in various fields ranging from entrepreneurship, software development, marketing, finance, law, and more - dedicate their time to provide advice. In addition to the most valuable resources at the weekend (the people), we’ve put together a list of some useful resources and tools for before, during, and after the weekend. Check out Tools for Participants page for more info.

Q: What do I say if someone asks me about the issue of Intellectual Property or Ownership during the weekend?

A: Participants have signed an agreement when they registered for tickets to not bring any legal documentation to the event. Startup Weekend doesn’t retain or claim ownership to any ideas, as that is left up to the teams. We do acknowledge that the issue of patents and copyrights is an important one. It’s also one that is a question of risk and reward for participants. 

Our guidance around this issue is that Startup Weekend is about the educational experience of learning how to build a business, so even if participants don’t pitch the idea that they are worried about someone ‘stealing’, they can still take the learnings from the weekend and apply it to their idea afterward. They should also focus on making valuable connections with mentors and other participants during the weekend who they want to involve going forwards, so participation is still valuable, regardless of the idea. 

Techstars Startup Weekend does not support or take part in the signing of any legal documents at the events, and cannot provide financial or legal advice. And, whilst mentors with legal backgrounds are often present and able to give general advice, they are not permitted to give specific legal counsel.

Q: What are we supposed to have accomplished by the end of the weekend? 

A: While there are no specific requirements in terms of what teams should have accomplished by Sunday, it’s in your best interest to plan your execution around what you’ll be judged for on Sunday:

As far as presenting goes, some of the most common presentations include any, or a combination, of the following: 

Q:is it a competition? 

A: Competition is not a central theme of Startup Weekend, but friendly competition can be beneficial to all parties and accurately reflects the realities of startup life. There is a panel of judges that will give feedback to all teams and select those that best fulfill the judging criteria. 

After the Weekend

Q: Are teams expected to continue after the event? 

A: Whether or not you continue to work on the idea, with some or all of your team, is completely up to you. 

Q: How can I get more involved? 

A: Having participated in a Startup Weekend, you are now part of an extensive global network of passionate entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, mentors, startup talent and community supporters. 

Keen to help run the next Startup Weekend Tairāwhiti event? Get in touch with us by emailing swtairawhiti@gmail.com. Please read through the Startup Weekend Organizer Prerequisites to evaluate whether you are ready for the challenge.

Another way to get involved is to join our Talent Network, where you can join one of our Techstars portfolio companies to gain more experience working in a startup, before you take the plunge to start your company. 

We love hearing about Techstars Startup Weekend success stories! If you would like to share your experience with us, please send us an email. It'd make our day!

Q: What kind of support can Techstars Startup Weekend provide to help my team launch? 

A: Startup Weekend primarily focuses on the entry point of entrepreneurship, but our support and community span much further beyond the weekend. Whether you’re ready to accelerate your business or want to help build your local entrepreneurial ecosystem, we’re here to help any way we can. Visit Techstars.com to learn more.

Didn’t find what you are looking for? Let us know at help@techstars.com, or contact your local Startup Weekend organizing team at swtairawhiti@gmail.com