Startup Weekends are about building startups, however one of the primary reasons we choose to sponsor Startup Weekends is because they build communities. They allow creatives, developers and businesspeople to move beyond simple friendship & networking and work together under pressure to develop a business and a working prototype. It doesn't matter what they build, or if they continue with their startup once the weekend is finished, but that they had an opportunity to work together and learn from each other.
Experimentation: Startup Weekend gives aspiring entrepreneurs the freedom to build something really innovative. Innovation is the application of technology to create value. When you reduce the cost of a technology, the barriers to entry are lowered, and people tend to find new applications, encouraging further innovation. Startup Weekend builds on this principal to encourage people to experiment, by reducing the cost of programming, design and business development for 54 hours. While it is unlikely that you will be able to build your dream product over a weekend, you should be able to know if your idea has merit.
Raw Material: It's possible to start a great company without political support or money, but without a talented, experienced and driven pool of businesspeople, developers and creatives, it's impossible. Startup Weekend flourishes by mimicking the constraints of a startup; the lack of money, time and resources provides a breeding ground for the talent essential to creating a great company. Even if you choose not to continue with your startup after the weekend ends, Startup Weekend will provide you with an opportunity to be exposed and hone your skills under a bit of the pressure of a full time startup.
Humility: Startup Weekend keeps me as the CEO of a successful startup humble. It reminds that if I get complacent with my success, that there is a new generation of entrepreneurs eager for their chance to compete. Each time I attend a Startup Weekend I am reminded of a quote by Andy Grove , the former CEO of Intel, that "Success breeds complacency, complacency breeds failure, only the paranoid survive". Meeting the entrepreneurs of tomorrow helps keep me grounded and paranoid.
Community: Entrepreneurship can be very lonely. As an entrepreneur, you are trying to accomplish the impossible under less than ideal situations. (Related Post) Besides other entrepreneurs, no one, not family or employees, will understand why you are risking everything and working 12+ hours a day. At Startup Weekend, you are surrounded by people that are just as crazy as you, and it is really nice to know that you are not alone.