What if Occupy Wall Street Protesters Did a Startup Weekend?

November 21, 2011

November 21, 2011

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While watching the news  showing scenes from the two monthversary of Occupy Wall Street last week, a thought crossed my mind: what would happen if the protesters decided to do something a little more practical with their time that would further their goals of job creation. How about participating in a Startup Weekend?   At Startup Weekends across […]

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While watching the news  showing scenes from the two monthversary of Occupy Wall Street last week, a thought crossed my mind: what would happen if the protesters decided to do something a little more practical with their time that would further their goals of job creation. How about participating in a Startup Weekend?

 

At Startup Weekends across the globe, people from all backgrounds get together and start companies in 54 hours. Viable companies, since Startup Weekend reports that 36% of companies started during their events are continuing and growing after 3 months, and 10% actually“turn into something.” Let’s make some assumptions and see how this action might impact the economy:

Number of hours in the last two months= 1,440

Number of “regulars” at Zucotti Park= 1,000 (hard to find a concrete/accurate number, so let’s underestimate for the sake of simplicity)

Number of hours in a Startup Weeekend=54

Number of companies created (average) per weekend=10

So, there are a number of ways to analyze this data. Over the course of OWS’s existence, they could have had the equivalent of 26 Startup Weekends, meaning they could have created 260 companies, with 26 actually becoming “something” that created jobs. Let’s say that after a year, the 26 companies had all hired an average of 20 people (some more, some less), that’s 520 jobs. Damn.

Now let’s see what happens when we look at the manpower at protests. If 1,000 people were to break up into Startup Weekend-esque teams, that is 100 teams of 10 or 200 teams of 5 (the usual size is around 5). With 200 teams of 5, over one Startup Weekend, that would create 20 viable companies with an estimated job creation impact of 400 people. This estimation could be greater since participants could potentially iterate and create new ideas since they are not limited to 54 hours and 3 days, but actually had 1440 hours and 60 days so far. Occupy Wall Street protesters have the perfect skillsets and variety of experience to facilitate meaningful discussion and action on creating solutions to real world problems.

This is just looking at protesters in New York’s Zucotti Park, but what if protesters in over 1,500 cities globally also took similar action? The opportunities are endless.

Some of the world’s most successful and well known companies came out of recessions (think Hyatt, Microsoft, GE and HP).  I hear that Occupy Wall Street has another leg up on Startup Weekend participants: funding.The group has almost $500,000 in a bank account…again, the possibilities!

One quick note: for those who think startup jobs are not sustainable, take a look at this Kauffman Foundation report. Over 78% of jobs created by startups were still around 5 years later. And the myth that 90% of new businesses fail within a year is just that….a myth.

This post is meant to be completely apolitical, just applying startup methodology to the real world.

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