Background to the Mandarin Madness Idea

This is cross posted from the Startup Weekend Melbourne Google Groups Forum.
Hey its Matt from Native Tongue.

Most of you know I flew down from Sydney for this event. I was here for work as well, but stayed the extra few days for the first startup weekend.

My motivation for participating was to take on the best entrepreneurs from Melbourne. My idea took the title. Admittedly, my team is all from Melbourne, but the idea is from Sydney =).

I thought that everyone was supposed to pitch an idea, and was worried that I didn’t have one. So I came up with the idea the night before the competition. But I knew it had to be tested and feedback was needed, ala customer development (see Steve Blank).

When I got on the plane to Melbourne, I pitched it to the people sitting next to me. It was the first time I pitched it, and I knew I had to make the vision simple: “Making language easy to learn”. They liked it. When I was at work on Thursday in our Melbourne office, I pitched it to as many people as I could, and used that feedback to refine my pitch. About 50% liked it.

I was staying at an Airbnb place, and I pitched it to one of the housemates on Friday night just before I came to the event. That’s why I was 30mins late. She liked it as well. That’s when I knew it was good.

I never stopped pitching the idea and believing in it. Allen and I actually never did a full practice together – we were the two people pitching to the judging panel. We did a few rough practices towards the last 1 hour, mostly separately and put the slides together like 5 mins before the deadline. But I had pitched it so many times, at least 40 times that weekend that I didn’t need the slides. I knew what the vision was and how to sell it.

I also knew what was possible and what was not possible in 2 days, given my background in web design. I’m actually not a developer, but I have worked at a web development agency for 3 years and knew what to do and the process.

This is actually the first startup event I’ve entered. I didn’t mention this (in my winning speech), but I went to SXSW in March and went to a bunch of lean startup sessions called “Battle of The Apps” with a judging panel of Eric Ries, Dave McClure and Robert Scoble. That’s when I found out about the lean startup model. I also attended the StartupBus finals, and I knew what it took to win. I saw what the best entrepreneurs were doing from the Valley, New York, and around the world.

I think what is really underrated are the mentors. Although they kept interrupting us, I listened to each one of them and I took the best parts out of each one’s advice. To be successful, you need to surround yourself with smart people. The presentation I gave, had elements of Leni, Humprey, Glen and a few other mentor’s in there.

So I’m laying down the challenge to everyone in Melbourne. I took the title back to Sydney. Come up to Sydney for the next one, because we want the best hackers / entrepreneurs up here. We want to go up against the best.

Sydney 1, Melbourne 0.

Come and get it =p


p.s. My team is going to keep working on our product.

2 thoughts on “Background to the Mandarin Madness Idea

  1. Pingback: Native Tongue Lays Down the Foundations | Mandarin Madness

  2. Pingback: Native Tongue wins Startup Weekend Melbourne | Native Tongue

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