Startup Jam Sessions: Meet your future Co-Founders

In the mood to jam business ideas? Here’s what we do at Startup Jam Sessions and how you can join!

Startup Jam Session Facebook Group:

Video Transcript

It’s soon time for another startup jam session, and I wanted to take the time to briefly explain the concept as well as how you can join if you are interested in joining a jam session. Startup jam sessions are a series of events that we started in 2019 together with two partners: number one, the Entrepreneur Club of ETH Zurich, the local Technical University here in Zurich, and SwissPreneur, is a series of podcasts and video podcasts on entrepreneurship specifically in Switzerland and by Swiss entrepreneurs.

Why do we start an event series?

First, a why, why do we start an event series? Well, there are lots of startup events, even in Zurich, and more broadly, all over the world. But there’s a format that I’ve been missing, just lots of pitch events, and there are lots of events where you can just go and listen to someone give a keynote, but there are very few events for people that haven’t really decided they are going to start this one thing yet and still want to get real feedback and just jam with others. And by jamming what I mean is get together and think out loud and take one idea here and one there and mix them together and see what comes out, throw another person in and make some more domain expertise and just get the entrepreneurial mind flowing and produce ideas.

What does it look like in practice?

So what does it look like in practice? What we do is we bring together between 20 and 40 participants with three to eight mentors, and we mix them up in smaller groups for 20 minutes sessions each. So we take one mentor, and we assign them randomly a group of roughly five participants. In that group, now one person is going to speak out loud about their business idea, and everyone else is going to give feedback, comment, add on, and just jam together.

The mentor’s role

The mentor’s role is to guide the process to give it some structure. And also to jump in and give some of his experiences from time to time. We do that usually three times per evening. So three sessions at 20 minutes each. And then between the sessions, we have some other things that we discussed as a group, some sharing some needs and leads, meaning everyone that’s looking for, let’s say, a technical co-founder can say so, or someone that’s working on a med-tech startup and is looking for a marketing person can say that. And the cool thing is, we’ve held events six or seven times now. And there’s already a couple of startups that have emerged from it: co-founders that have met at the event.

Better than a pitching event?

Why do I think it’s better than a pitching event? Well, first of all, you got to be super engaged and talk for most of the evening. Whereas at a pitch event, you spend 95% or 99% of your time just sitting in the audience, listening to someone upfront on stage. Then you only get that one chance to really pitch and get feedback for your pitch.

Second, you might not be at the point where you feel so clear about your idea that you want to get up on stage and pitch it to a wide audience. And that’s going to be very challenging. But if you meet in these smaller groups, you can just speak out loud; there’s no pressure to have a perfect idea. It’s all about just combining thoughts and bringing ideas together.

How can you join a startup jam session?

So for the second part, how can you join a startup jam session? Well, we have a Facebook page that’s called startup jam sessions, where you will always see the signup link and the application link. Unfortunately, we usually get about three to four times as many applications as we can host people per session. Nevertheless, we’re planning to do more of these in the future. So don’t be discouraged. Join that Facebook group, sign up to the newsletter, or just apply directly for the next one. And we’ll link to the Facebook group in the video notes here.

Where do these startup jam sessions happen?

A more practical question. Where do these startup jam sessions happen? In the past, sometimes we’ve had it in person in Zurich. So that kind of restricted it to people that were living in the area. Now, of course, since COVID, we’ve been holding them online, which has worked really well. And so you can basically join no matter where in the world you currently are.

And just to quickly summarize that: Startup Jam Sessions are an event series that you can come to to jam business ideas, throw in your thoughts, connect them with someone else’s, and come up with something new together.

How can you join?

And second, how can you join? Join our Facebook group; we’ll link to it right down below. That’s where you can stay up to date on when the next startup jam session is going to happen. It looks like we’ll do at least once a month over Zoom for the upcoming months so you can join from anywhere.

And with that, stay curious. I hope to see you at a Jam Session soon and stay healthy.