Meet like a startup


As the Tech-News platform recently observed, “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.“ Something interesting is happening, but the traditional players are missing out. Don’t you wish your company could be more like these startups? Why don’t you start with meeting like one?

How do Startups meet?

Startup workshops are characterized by a few simple elements that jumpstart creativity: There is no money and no time but tons of fun. To get in the mood of feeling like there is no money, you should meet in a location with that certain startup vibe. At one point basically every startup has worked from a garage or a basement. If you are afraid that it might be a little too rough for your business partners, co-working spaces are a great idea. At Betahaus for example, many young startups are renting desks and create the vibrant atmosphere that can support your meeting. Nevertheless, you can rent a separated area to have a confidential brainstorming. It can help to ask a quirky young entrepreneur to give a 10 min impulse speech on his early days. Interesting topics are always bootstrapped marketing, lean product development (fake it ‘til you make it) or creative problem solving.

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The essentials

It will be a little easier to stimulate the same kind of fun and energy that startups have when developing products. A good first step is to ask all participants to come in casual outfits. Seeing the CEO in a T-Shirt breaks down more creative barriers then years of training. Classic startup tricks for a casual atmosphere are of course cold beers, energizing drinks like club mate, a healthy fruit basket and many comfortable seating options like bean bags or couches. Most importantly, don’t forget the games. Nothing sparks creativity more, then a playful atmosphere.

Fire up creativity

If you want to make sure that truly visionary ideas that actually make it in

the world will come out of the brainstorming, you can follow the Walt Disney creativity concept. Split the meeting in three parts: Dreamer, Spoiler and Realist. During the morning it is only allowed to speak about new ideas and develop them further. No criticism is acceptable. Then, after a lunch break, when everybody is in the post lunch depression, it is time to spoil the good ideas: Criticize them as much as possible. No new ideas can be developed now. All the ideas that survive the spoiler meeting make it past the coffee break to the realist meeting. Now everyone will find out how the best ideas can be turns into results as fast as possible. In a best case scenario, you will provide three different rooms for the different meetings.

If you want to brainstorm like a startup, you need:

  • Just do it mentality
  • Casual dresscode to reduce hierarchies
  • Startup location (co-working spaces, garages, industrial buildings, cafes)
  • Inspiring startup speaker
  • A couple of cold beers (IPA if possible – if not just the cheapest)
  • Energizing drinks like Club Mate or fresh smoothies
  • Games (Fussball, Nerve guns, Spinners, table tennis, laser tag break)
  • Comfortable seating options
  • Creative Agenda