03/02/12 | Uncategorized

When You Lack Experience, Sometimes Simply Participating Is Enough To Get Started

By Maris McEdward (Community Manager, Startup Weekend)
“If not for Startup Weekend, when I graduated I’d be looking for jobs like my classmates instead of creating them.”

When Anna Sergeeva and Fei Xiao attended their first Startup Weekend in Los Angeles in February 2011 they didn’t quite know what to expect. With no real understanding of front or backend design and as the only college students at the event, Anna and Fei felt out of their element. Their classes in entrepreneurship at USC had whetted their appetites for the world of startups but they weren’t founders and didn’t know anything about coding.

Despite any doubts, on Friday night they pitched an idea. It was an idea that, somewhat to their surprise, proved popular with the other attendees. With a team in place, they got what Anna describes as a “crash course” in technology.

“We had an awesome and understanding team,” Anna says. “They could tell we didn’t have much experience, but they were very supportive and brought us up to speed on everything from wire-framing to agile development.”

Not to let the momentum of Startup Weekend fade away, by mid-2011 Anna and Fei had participated in Startup Bus and found a USC graduate student to come on board as TrueRSVP’s CTO.

Anna and Fei presented onstage at DEMO in September 2011 where Fei made quite an impression with her choice of outfit – a wedding dress is something of a novelty at a tech event. TrueRSVP won a DEMO God award and went on to secure angel funding.

With the validation of the DEMO community and funding to boot, Anna and Fei graduated early in order to work full time on TrueRSVP, the first RSVP system that predicts event attendance. The site’s proprietary algorithm analyzes details about each event and every attendee, including their reliability, in order to create “flake-proof” events.

“Going forward we have very exciting plans to leave our mark on the event planning industry and start our career as tech entrepreneurs,” says Fei. “It’s been a great learning experience and we’re excited for all of the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Looking back on where it all began, Anna says, “I owe so much to Startup Weekend. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of technology, to the power of collaboration, and to the people who make startups happen.”

This post was originally posted at Startup Weekend’s blog.

Photo credit: Demo on Flickr.
About the guest blogger: Maris McEdward is the Community Manager at Startup Weekend, where she tries to keep up with the startup activities of over 30,000 passionate, hard-working entrepreneurs. When not sharing startup success stories, Maris can be found combing through the antique markets and browsing the local farmers’ market. Maris holds a B.A. from Agnes Scott College and an MBA from the University of Florida. Follow her on Twitter at @mmcedward.



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