The strange case of Mr Hyde

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On July 7 this year a 23-year-old part-time cameraman started a venture known as StartupWeekend where he planned to create, with others, a startup in one weekend. Since then he has begun a global odyssey to create a startup in many cities, and next month he lands in London and Dublin. But for this Web 2.0 version of Phileas Fogg, the sailing around the world has not been all plain.

The protagonist in this story is one Andrew Hyde from Boulder, Colorado, USA. Hyde is now on a journey to co-found 23 web companies in 23 cities ranging from Boston to San Fransciso, and taking in London and Dublin. The idea seemed straight forward enough: a kind of digital barn raising:

“Startup Weekend is an idea, an experiment, a chance to gather the tech community and create a company over one jam packed weekend.. A unique three-day experience, StartupWeekend brings the best and brightest people together in a local office space to select the concept, break into teams, and develop the product, marketing and revenue model.”

So far so crazy. Few people in their right minds would attempt such a feat. But then, this is the Web, where stranger things have happened. Should we care if someone wants to fly around some cities founding companies with willing individuals? In fact, the overall principles of StartupWeekend seemed to be quite egalitarian. Everyone who attends is considered a founder, with equal equity. An idea for the startup is formed after debate and voted on democratically.

Hyde told me via email that the idea came to him after having dinner with some entrepreneurs “who wanted to be able to collaborate with other folks, but didn’t have much more than a weekend to do it.” Duly, the URL for was created on June 4 this year, a month before the first StartupWeekend event on July 6 event in Colorado, USA.

According to Techcrunch, that first Boulder weekend was run by “some of the guys from TechStars (a Y Combinator-like incubator), as well as others, but it is not one of the TechStars startups.” In other words it was not an official TechStars event. But something did come out of it: a company called Vosnap, a group voting application where you get answers to questions fast via text messages and emails. The ‘company’ of VoSnap, Inc. does appear to have been created. Perhaps this idea wasn’t so crazy after all?

I asked Hyde about this informal connection with TechStars. This is what he emailed: “I worked with TechStars this summer running a camera as an excuse to hang out with some brilliant entrepreneurs. A lot of my friends were in the program, and I work out of a coop office space with 5 of the teams, but I’m not a team or affiliated.”

Here was a clue to how this idea got started. A young guy gets inspired by the excitement surrounding a startup and decides to re-create it in a kind’ve ‘startup roadtrip’.

But as with most roadtrips, there are flat tyres. The wheels came off the magic startup bus when Hyde hit Toronto for the weekend starting September 14. Having heard about the idea from TechCrunch, Toronto developers had contacted Hyde, and started getting organised well ahead of time.

The site that emerged from the weekend was LobbyThem a “site where you can browse, create and support issues affecting you and your community” – a site not dissimilar to PledgeBank in the UK. But LobbyThem clearly had a difficult birth.

I have spoken by phone or email to several sources involved with Startup Weekend Toronto. What emerges is a picture of Hyde walking in to an already well-organised group and indicating that he wanted to lead the project. This did not go down very well and Hyde spent the rest of the weekend largely uninvolved, say my sources. In fact, he did more than that, he later attacked the organisers.

One commenter reacted to Hyde’s post thus: “As one of the participants of SW Toronto I am certainly surprised to find out that we were supposed to be working for you and according to your expectations. To that end I found your lack of participation and poor attitude disruptive to the overall spirit of OUR weekend. Like it or not you were there to PARTICIPATE as our guest. Despite your lack of effort, regardless of your ’structure’ fears, you shall still receive shares for your time spent.”

Hyde argues that he was effectively locked out of the process. His conclusion after Toronto was “to form a ‘Bill of Rights’ (PDF) to protect any founder of a future weekend from dishonest organizers.”

It seems Toronto was not happy.

Brill Pappin, one of those heavily involved in organising in the Toronto event later went to the lengths of writing a dedicated rebuttal to Hyde. In turn Hyde was defended by a fellow traveller in Steve Poland, in turn rebutted again by Brill. Other partcipants in seemed to think Toronto suffered from not being as unstructured as the first Boulder event.

But amid all these recriminations one thing seems clear. There was a lack of communication in either direction that the Toronto Startup was going to be run by Toronto, not Hyde. So whatever happens in London and Dublin next will hinge on how the participants view their role.

Over email Pappin commented to me on the record that that Hyde is “really a regular fellow trying to make a business out of the Startup Weekend idea, but it’s clear he is not used to running a business and doesn’t have the management skills (yet)…. I think people wanting to do a ‘Startup Weekend’ need to be clear on what the deal actually is before they go for it. The idea is workable after a fashion but I don’t think he has the ‘final formula’ for doing it.” He added that “The biggest issue that I don’t think has been resolved yet is the issue of IP rights to the ideas submitted.”

Indeed. Speaking off the record one of the organisers of the BirminghamStartup – inspired by Hyde but not officially linked to him – said they were ‘struck by Hyde’s “immaturity. He doesn’t understand business, IMHO. He helped birth a great idea, didn’t know what he wanted to do with it moving forward, and is now fumbling his way through.” Needless to say Birmingham (Alabama) has not invited Hyde to their Startup weekend (November 2-9).

I put the bulk of these claims to Hyde who reacted in an email to me (reprinted in full, un-edited):

Hey Mike,

The event you are referring to is the Toronto event, which was an unfortunate series of events that left a lot of us not happy with each other. After the event happened the Founders Bill of Rights was formed so that everyone participating knows exactly what they are signing up for and getting. Every weekend since has been nothing from stellar.

Upon exit surveys of every other weekend we have found that:
94% would do the event again
90% would recommend the event to a friend
76% met someone they would like to work or co-found a company with

so I can conclude myself and Startup Weekend are not bad apples at all, just had a bad event.

The organizer of the event had some excited members of the community help organize, and the basic ‘rules’ of the weekend, such as equal founders spilt of the 50% and which results in comments such as “He thought he’d be walking in and running the show under his Startup Weekend branding.” Well, yes, it is a startup in its own right, and I need to make sure all the weekends are of the high expectations of the founders.

I have moved on to making sure the events run extremely well. I have been about transparency and honesty since the first Startup Weekend, and I plan for that to stay! I would much prefer if information on the other 4 weekends were used when explaining and defining what it is.

Another thing to note is there are about 20 people who have been talked into flying into the Boston event this weekend. That wouldn’t happen if people were not extremely happy with how the weekends are run.

Brad Feld wrote about it here. Seth Levine wrote about it here. (Two highly respected VC’s that attended the Boulder weekend.)

Any other questions?


After the fallout over Toronto most people might take some time out to re-group and rethink the idea. Hyde was unbowed. He moved on to New York.

Unfortunately by this time Hyde was finding his idea was spreading without his control. In fact, it was taking on a life of its own and had now crossed the Atlantic.

During September 21-23 in Hamburg, Germany, entrepreneur Cem Basman took the ‘create a startup in a weekend’ idea to a new level with a highly organised event – at least from what one can gather from the blog, and this youtube video. The Hamburg results certainly sound impressive. Edelbild is now a British limited company with 82 equal shareholders, funded with 250 Euros, and it has even had offers of venture money. Edelbild will be an online marketplace for image editing where pros or semi-pro can upload pictures and get them edited or re-touched for a low cost.

With Hamburg’s event rumbling on without him (though acknowledging him), Hyde flew into New York that same weekend. The group that assembled there created a site called Favoreats which allows you to say where you like to eat in your city (in the US). But when I checked, the site is still in beta and has scant information about its next moves other than “Sign up to get an announcement when we launch.”

Next up was Houston (September 28-30 ). Having looked at the blog, it appears participants enjoyed their time creating (still in beta) a site to connects PRs with influencer blogs. TipDish has no information on the company behind it on the site.

Most recently Hyde has gone on to do the weekend in West Lafayette, Indiana (October 12-14) which produced ScrollTalk, a “dynamic chat space, ranking conversation relevance” which, to be frank, really does look like it was only made in a weekend. And this weekend Hyde starts in earnest in Boston (October 19-21), followed by Washington, Chapel Hill, Atlanta, San Francisco, London and Dublin. After that no less than 10 more cities in the US await the Hyde Startup Weekend experience.

What are we to make of all this? Perhaps I have gone over the top in detailing the Startup Weekend’s activities to date. But with startup events proliferating like wild-fire across the UK, Ireland and Europe, it’s important to keep one’s feet on the ground. Any event needs to be clear about what the participants are getting into before they get into it – especially where equity, shares, intellectual property and new companies are involved. If Startup Weekend can address those, all well and good. But if it can’t, then alarm bells should be ringing.

How the formation of these weekend-built companies will play out in the jurisdictions of the UK and Ireland is also something to consider. It is one thing bringing together developers to create a cool new application out of nothing. It is another to make it a company.

But let’s allow Andrew Hyde, our latter day Phileas Fogg, have the final word in some video shot during NYC Startup Weekend: CEO Andrew Hyde’s Introduction from startupweekend on Vimeo.

  • Ian Delaney

    Great story, Mike. I do appreciate your longer pieces.

  • Tech Crunch UK on “The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde” | Innovation Toronto

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  • Zee

    Great Post Mike, Duly noted how much research you put into that one – and well appreciated. When is this guy exactly going to be here?

  • Nothing Everywhere » Blog Archive » Starting a startup in a weekend

    […] also seem to have made a bit of a buzz around the place. See this TechCrunch UK article: The strange case of Mr Hyde Which seems to provide a good smattering of reference information for those […]

  • Cem Basman

    I don’t feel comfortable with this article.

    Andrew Hyde had a very good idea. And this idea works and spreads itself like a virus all over the world. In the Americas and Europe there are more and more locations hosting StartupWeekend. We in Hamburg, Germany, were one of the very first early adopters. It is natural that an idea spreading such fast globally will be varied strongly from place to place and from country to country. It is a very simple and strong idea – but an idea without an elaborate or proven concept. It is a living idea. That’s what is happening now. More and more people get involved and of course there are tensions here and there. That’s a normal situation.

    Step by step through an open discussion between all locations we will elaborate the idea into one or a few alternative concepts. I said in the beginning of the preparations of the Hamburg event, “StartupWeekend is for business, what open source is for software!”. It is a huge and very successful crowdsourcing concept.

    Saying this, I want to thank Andrew Hyde for a great idea. I hope, we all will join this movement to make the world a better place. Or as I wrote in my bio: “I believe in an economy driven by passion where anyone can choose to afford a life of passion, experiencing new learning and personal growth by collaborating with others to create inspiring new businesses whenever they want to – doing what they love most.”

    Just do it.

  • Mike Butcher

    Cem Basman – You may not feel comfortable with the article, but if you had responded to my email before publication you may have had more input into it. The article does not say the idea is an intrinsically bad one, but it does point out where the execution of the idea has perhaps not met all expectations. I have also not read anywhere that Hyde has said this is an ‘open source’ idea. On the contrary, it is portrayed as a business.

  • Cem Basman

    Mike, I’m not aware I got a mail from you lately. Normally I answer every personal mail. Excuse me.

    I said “StartupWeekend is for business, what open source is for software!” – not Andrew. Saying this, sure can open source be business, as StartupWeekend. And it is indeed.

    My analogy to open source with StartupWeekend is concerning crowdsourcing, design of blueprints and patterns for businesses, the process of founding and more. This is for free. Doing scalable business with the core idea of StartupWeekend is something else. It it is beyond StartupWeekend.

    I hope this clarifies some.

  • Claus Lehmann

    I participated in the Hamburg event and found it to be a great experience. It was well organised, attended by interesting, open-minded people and we created a promising concept:
    The interesting discussions alone were well worth the trip to Hamburg

  • Gary Reid

    82 equal shareholders and 250 Euros, it’s like an instant nano IBM

    Putting aside the mixed metaphor – crowdsourcing/open source – I really dislike claims like ‘And this idea works and spreads itself like a virus all over the world.’

    Maybe when the idea ‘has’ worked and produced some successful businesses and ‘has’ spread around the world it may have some meaning, until then it is just pointless marketing fluff.

    I will certainly accept it as a good idea if someone other than Mr. Hyde (or other event organisers) gets rich out of this.

  • « Martin’s Blog

    […] Butcher of TechCrunch UK, has a well researched write up about how StartUpWeekend has progressed since then. It’s well worth a read.  After reading the article and parts of […]

  • Steve Poland

    Mike — this article sounds very biasly toned towards trashing Andrew Hyde. Honestly, the guy is the nicest guy that would give the change out of his pocket to you if you said you really needed it. He’s selfless.

    The idea of StartupWeekend is a simple one and it’s a great idea. The main goal is building a startup in a weekend — well, that hasn’t exactly worked out most times. But you ask the participants whether they’d do it again — and you’ll find that many of them would; because it’s really the social aspects — getting dirty working on something with a bunch of strangers that are passionate about the web and entrepreneurial. Yes it’s disappointing if something doesn’t launch, but tons of friendships come out of each weekend.

    StartupWeekend in itself is still a startup — it’s still evolving. As I said in my post that you quoted, there are some great people in Toronto — we all have the same intentions — building something cool, meeting people, and having fun! That was the first event that Andrew kind of let the local organizers run with — and it wasn’t the way the Boulder event ran; it was a bit more organized. THERE’S NO PROBLEM WITH THAT, but it’s just not how Andrew wants to run StartupWeekend’s — and it was an important lesson learned for Andrew, who then wrote up the ‘bill of rights’.

    Andrew doesn’t have a patent on this StartupWeekend concept, just a trademark on that name. Anyone can organize similar events in their hometown, or start an entirely other movement — there shouldn’t be a war here, there should be love :)

    I can’t wait for the next event that Andrew puts on that I can attend, because I know that each weekend that passes he’s refining things — in a way that I’m down with.

    You make it sound in your article like he shows up at these events and starts bossing everyone around, which isn’t the case AT ALL. It’s fun — and I encourage any web geek entrepreneurs to go; you’ll meet some rad people in your community. And I equally encourage other people to organize their own weekends — I’m sure Andrew would be more than happy to give you advice. Just don’t be upset if he can’t make it to your town — the guy is flying into all these cities on a bootstrap budget.

    [Note: These are my opinions and my opinions only. I honestly wish Brill would just put the war to rest; I don’t know why he’s trying to bad mouth Andrew. Brill — next time, do your own Weekend; call it ‘TorontoStartup’ or something. Andrew isn’t bad mouthing you guys — it was honestly his fault for what happened; but that’s also because he had no clue, because SW is a startup. He just didn’t like all the organization you guys had — that’s all; it’s not what his original Boulder weekend was like. So let him go do his thing, and you go do your thing. Stop wasting your energy with all the negativity. And BTW, your next weekend I’m likely going to attend — because I’m sure you guys will have refined some things as well. I don’t hate any of you guys and I live right in Buffalo. Your weekend wasn’t what I expected either; and I didn’t participate much; and I feel like a schlep for that; but it was still new — I got off on the wrong foot with the way you guys had divided equity, etc. Let’s just all put this past us and help each other out. If Ron/you/etc are going to do some kind of virtual/global startup in a weekend thing, great, go for it! We’re all entrepreneurs here — that have enough problems to worry about — we should be embracing each other as we all go down the crazy path that entrepreneurs go down.]

    Mike — go to the London SW with an open mind and have fun! It’s suppose to be a social event for people to meet the other crazy people (entrepreneurs) like them.

  • Mike Butcher

    Steve Poland – I’m not bothered with most of your comment, but I take issue with one point. In this article – which, by the way, is the first to draw together the strands of information around the web about Startup Weekend by someone who has no axe to grind, one way or another – I did not make it sound like Hyde showed up at the Toronto event and started bossing everyone around. This was what was communicated to me by *several sources*. I am the messenger. Good day.

  • Steve Poland

    Mike — it’s that 6 of these weekend events have occurred that Andrew has been at, and you spoke to the one that went bad (tor) and another city that I believe Andrew said he wasn’t going to be going to (birm; so they seem to not like Andrew), and Hamburg (which Andrew didn’t attend). What about adding input from participants of NYC, West Lafayette, Boulder, Boston, or Houston?

    There are 70 comments on this blog post about the Boulder SW experiment — many of whom said they’d participate again –

    You wrote a one-sided post in my opinion.

  • Brill Pappin

    @Steve Poland

    Hello again Steve,

    First let me say that I have not seen any “reevaluation” by Andrew of the statements he made and I take exception to that. I have not even received a personal apology let alone one for the entire group that was a bit put-off. The only thing I have ever seen was a transparent attempt to say “that’s not what I meant” buried in some blog comment, but no other clarification or retraction.

    As for the “war” as you coined it, I don’t see it as such. I was asked about the Toronto weekend and the politics around it and I answered on the record with as much fact as possible as well as opinion. I have nothing to hide about it and I do not seek every opportunity to “war” with Andrew. I know he didn’t like some of the things about our weekend that’s ok… and I would have been glad for his input in a constructive way.

    I think Mike B has done a good job of pulling together the pieces floating around that conical what actually went down and I think he’s done it without taking my or anyone side (his own opinions do show a little but I think you have to expect that). What’s interesting to see is that people think this post is negative toward Andrew and if that’s the case then maybe we (in Toronto) actually are owed an apology.

    Personally I’m a believer in the idea of fair reward and spreading around the wealth, but I also don’t believe that Andrew’s way is the only way to do that… I take a more practical approach and wish to tie in the old money with the new talent.

    Frankly I liked Andrew and his laid back attitude but that doesn’t mean I’m going to lie down and take a poor attitude on the chops.

    Honestly, I’m glad you want to attend the next Toronto event (called something else) and I’d even like to see Andrew show up as long as he’s a guest and is not going to go away and call people names, but I recommend that you join in the discussion early if you want input into how it gets organized.

    By the way, most of the Toronto people said they would participate again as well, but that’s not really the issue here is it?

  • Paul S.

    I agree with Steve, I think this post was a bit one-sided. Toronto was one of 7 weekends, and there is plenty of material available online about each of the other weekends and what they accomplished other than just the “coming soon” pages of their products. Having said that, I think you raise a good question: what exactly is the nature of the Startup Weekend organization to its founders and participants? I think this will emerge over time, i.e. with developments like the “Founders Bill of Rights” and other formalizations created from the trenches.

    Personal note: I participated in the Boulder event (I did the logo). I saw it less as an investment opportunity and more as a great way to meet my local tech peers and take on a manly challenge like launching a business in a weekend. Succeed or not, the glory was in the attempt.

  • Gwen Bell

    I’d like to weigh in on this piece as someone that met Andrew when he was a “lowly” part-time cameraman as Mike seems to have sketched him here. In fact, Andrew at the time was attending basically every startup-related event in Boulder, and so was I. As a fellow designer, I loved his enthusiasm as he explained to me that he was personalizing moleskine’s to give away to people to support his design firm. He struck me as authentic, friendly and incredibly inspired, both from the people around him and from the general startup energy of Boulder.

    I attended one of his events, the Boulder Creative Commons Meetup, and could tell that he wanted more than anything to see a group of people come together, create something and have a wonderful time. Those were the early days, before Startup Weekend took off and before my house burned down.

    In the middle of the night, just before Startup Weekend happened in Boulder, my house burned down and my world darkened for a few weeks. I decided to go to Startup Weekend even though I was living on someone’s couch at the time. The first night of Startup Weekend Boulder I knew I was spending time with kindred spirits. I was homeless, but I felt I had found a home. As ephemeral and changing as the Startup Weekend scene is, it is something stable in my life. A base of sorts.

    I’ve attended three Startup Weekends to date, most recently SW Boston. Most of the people that came up from Boulder crashed in a hotel room together, half of us on the floor, the other half on beds–to say that the weekend is somewhat disorganized would not be a stretch, but we do try. It was messy, bizarre at times and truly, made me feel I was touching base with my fellow human beings. Startup Weekend is just that.

    Each weekend is like that to me. We come out of our cubicles, our basements and our bedrooms and get real, get down to the business of interacting and remembering what it means to be in school or camp or a startup again. We remember the sensation of discovering the new in the ordinary. Simple human contact does so much good for us.

    I don’t think Andrew ever set out with a business plan in mind. He’s not necessarily a CEO (why is that a bad thing?), he’s definitely a team player. During SW Boston, for instance, he played the role of Supervisor, Motivator, Video Camera Man, Clean Up Crew, and more. He is above no one, nor is he below them. I have complete faith in his integrity and ability to do an outstanding job. (I would like to see the infallible leader raise his or her hand.)

    But then again, I’m probably biased because he went out there and did something where a lot of people only talk (or blog) about it. And that something, that community, has changed the trajectory of my life.

    Yes, it can happen in a weekend.

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  • Erica

    Wow – I’m sorry that I haven’t responded to this post before now…

    Let me start out by saying that I met Andrew Hyde before the first StartupWeekend – at SXSWi. And though our encounter was very brief – he struck me as so completely genuine and authentic – that when he emailed me a few weeks later and asked me to fly from Houston to Boulder for an event he was putting on – I didn’t think twice.

    StartupWeekend Boulder was AMAZING. There was this energy that I will never be able to describe. The talent in that room that weekend blew me away. I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder or accomplished more in such a short period of time – EVER.

    I decided right then and there that I wanted to Host a StartupWeekend in Houston. In fact – I wanted to be the second StartupWeekend – but Toronto beat me to the punch. So I thought – what the heck – I’ll just fly out to Toronto then. And I did.

    But let me back up – I knew things weren’t going right with StartupWeekend Toronto before I ever stepped foot on a plane.

    They were doing things all wrong. They were over-planning – and assigning people “roles” and “titles” like “Project Manager” or “Lead Developer”. Part of the Beauty of the first StartupWeekend was that I felt free to float from team to team – contributing where I best thought my skills were needed. Part of the time I worked on the Creative Team – Part of the Time I was on the Production Team (coding XHTML/CSS) – but the bulk of my time I spent working with the PR/Social Media team. There were no leaders – there were no private meetings – there were just these really amazing and talented people doing really amazing awesome things. It was in a word Euphoric.

    But – when I got to StartupWeekend Toronto – I knew right away that we were in for a nightmare. Now keep in mind – I flew on my own dime across the Country to attend this event. Why? Because I wanted to have fun. And I’m sorry I don’t find being bossed around and walked all over fun.

    When I walked in that room the first night – I was appalled. The energy was terrible. It was like someone had come in and sucked all the fun out. But – I decided to try and stay positive – with this hope that maybe with a little love we could turn this experience around.

    It all started with the nametag. Someone walked up to me and asked what title I wanted on my nametag…I remember just laughing. I said – I don’t really want a “Title” I like to float. She said – but you have to have a title – that’s how we know which team to assign you to – and which Project Manager you’ll report to. WHAT? Report to? This is my weekend to have fun – I have no intention of reporting to anyone. My answer to her was that – “I don’t like being put into a box. In fact I don’t like working with people who think outside the box – I like working with people who say – WHAT BOX?”

    That first night I think we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 people in the room. And most of them were NOT having fun.

    So – that night Andrew, Steve, Joe & I went out for drinks. We decided to put our heads together and come up with a way to make StartupWeekend Toronto a Success. We wanted to help them find that energy and passion that the first StartupWeekend had. So we decided that first we’d meet with the Project Managers at their 9:30 meeting and explain to them that we thought their approach might be too formal – and that we would like to try to help them find that energy that was missing. We decided that if for whatever reason that didn’t work – we would then speak to the entire group – give them our thoughts and let them decide. Afterall – all of us cared more about Transparency and Candor than anything else. And those were two of the ingredients that were definitely missing from StartupWeekend Toronto.

    So with the best of intentions – and a lot of love to give to the StartupWeekend Toronto community we showed up that morning. Of course – we didn’t make it too far. In fact – we were stopped at the door. Practically accousted by Brill and his henchman (I call them that because the shoe fits). Can you imagine flying across the country to go to what you felt was going to be an amazing event – only to be made to feel so UNWELCOME. They wanted us to sign their documents before they would let us enter – and they (or Brill) actually accused us of disrupting the event.

    Then out comes Alan. And Andrew says – why are you giving 20% of the company to the person who comes up with the idea? That’s insane. And Alan answers – because there are VC’s who would pay millions for a great idea any day. I actually laughed out loud at this! I mean come on – Ideas are great – Ideas are beautiful – but they are NOTHING without the execution. I literally felt like I was in an alternate universe – was this guy really serious. Oh – and of course Brill had to tell me how very RUDE I was for laughing. It’s kinda funny when you think about it.

    I think it was then that I decided that we shouldn’t say a thing – not to the Project Managers or to the Participants. Instead – we’d see this as an experiment gone HORRIBLY wrong – and we’d just watch them destroy every concept of community.

    We wanted nothing more than to help them to achieve the same Passion and Energy that we’d seen in Boulder – but the folks in charge of this event were not interested in such things. They came off by all accounts as Greedy, Foolish, and Naive.

    Now – do not take this to mean that there weren’t phenomenal folks there. That room was filled with talent – and if it had been properly nurtured – great things could have happened. I’m so honored to have met so many of the Participants at StartupWeekend Toronto. Dan Silvestru, Ryan, and a host of other people who I met where just Amazing – and totally gracious.

    Now that Second Morning – the numbers had dwindled significantly. I think we were now down to somewhere in the neighborhood of 27 people. It was shocking – because StartupWeekend Boulder actually gained people over the course of the event.

    So – we sat back and we watched events unfold. We watched the “Project Managers” have private meetings in a back room – and then come out and order people around. We watched people waste time because the teams weren’t communicating – in short it was a mess. But we did our best to keep quiet – and just keep smiling.

    Oh – and did I mention that Andrew actually got emails from folks who were there that first night saying – “Let me know if you ever organize a StartupWeekend in Toronto – and I’ll come to that one”.

    Over the course of the weekend I learned from conversations with the participants that they had NO IDEA that we were stopped at the door that first morning. They were ashamed. One of the participants was so disappointed that his eyes filled with tears and he said: “After hearing that – I’m embarrassed to be associated with this event.” Like I said – these were good people. Amazing people. People who I would gladly invite to any event that I hold anywhere – anytime. They were just used by a small group of people who didn’t then and still don’t understand the meaning of the word Community.

    You can ask around – and you’ll find that Community is what I am known for. Making people feel loved and included is what I do best. I’m known as the Glue that Holds the Houston Tech Community Together – and According to StartupHouston – I am the Heart and Soul of the Houston Startup Community. And similar things are said about me in Austin and Dallas – and I don’t even live there.

    So – after StartupWeekend Toronto I went home to Houston – and we had our own StartupWeekend – and Andrew and Gwen came. Do you know what people said about Andrew? They said that it was amazing the way he stayed in the background the whole time – facilitating the event – but not taking the spotlight. They said that he was one of the most genuine and wise people they had ever met. They said that his presence at the event made it a success. And they told this to me – someone who they see as family.

    I think you missed the mark on this post big time – and it makes me sad. I owe a lot to Andrew – to StartupWeekend – and to the StartupWeekend Community. This movement – this idea – has made the world a better place. And I don’t think there are many people who could successfully facilitate this type of event – it takes enormous humility and ultimate leadership (which has nothing to do with bossing people around – and everything to do with helping people discover the best within themselves) to pull off. When I think of the leaders I have met in my life – the ones I think of as Born Leaders – 3 names come to mind: Ed Schipul (my mentor), Jack Welch, & Andrew Hyde.

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