Last month marked a first for Demium: we hosted the first ever virtual AllStartup Weekend. It took place in Athens over three days (20-22 March) and featured 20 talented and passionate participants. We stuck to the usual Friday to Sunday timetable, during which our MD Ilias slept in the office. “It was easier that way,” he explained, “because I needed to support the entrepreneurs in real time and there are too many distractions at home.”
Ahead of the weekend, everybody was given a list of 26 ideas, from which they had to make their choice to work on by Thursday 19 March. It was done on a first come, first served basis, but we’re pleased to report that everyone was happy with their options.
There were certainly limitations in not being able to interact with the participants in person, but everyone could communicate via Slack, WhatsApp and email, and there were one-on-one phone calls scheduled daily. Ilias and George, the Head of Incubation Program, helped with everything, from researching and validating ideas to the lean canvas to pitch rehearsals and the pitch deck.
The main difference between the virtual and the face-to-face ASW is that people had to work on an individual basis rather than in teams. In a sense, Ilias and George acted as surrogate teams and mentors for participants, which proved surprisingly successful. “People worked really well on an individual basis,” Ilias concluded. “The amount and quality of work was excellent, which makes me think the ASW should generally be focused on individual efforts (with just a few group activities) and then during incubation we focus on building the best teams.”
Out of 20 contributors, we ended up choosing 10 winners, of which there happened to be an even split between men and women. And despite the obvious distance between everyone, one winner even welled up when the results were announced. It’s safe to say that the entrepreneurs truly connected, albeit virtually, and enjoyed the full Demium experience.