Sophia Hyder Headshot 2014

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Triangle Startup Weekend: Women was one of the most thrilling events I have ever experienced. I've been an entrepreneur for the past two years, but this was the first one that I attended. Maybe it was the fear of the unknown or the fear of people not liking my idea that prevented me from participating in a previous event. What has changed in recent months is my attitude and adopting a ‘what have I got to lose’ mentality as I rebrand Evolvemint. It is this perspective that I took with me this weekend.

October 10th, the first night of TSW, and I am standing in line at HQ Raleigh, about to pitch my app idea, an app which could help you pack efficiently and appropriately for any occasion in any cultural setting. 

As the voting period began, I stood by my large Post-it note, answering thought-provoking questions to interested participants, and wondering if this idea would catch-on. 16 votes later, my idea made it through to the next round. Teams were formed organically, based on topical interest. We then had about one hour to get to know each other, identify our strengths and weaknesses, and plan our strategy for the coming days. 

October 11th, was a very long day. We started at 8:30, mapping our goals, objectives and responsibilities to make sure expectations were clear for each team member. Our first objective was creating our identity. PAPILIA(Latin for butterfly) was born after an hour spent brainstorming words and phrases associated with style and travel. From this point forward, we developed two teams: one team focused on app development and graphic design while the other team focused on business and product development. 

Our first major setback proved to be the weather. Just as we released a market survey through our social media outlets and were ready to walk out the door to talk with people, horizontal rain showers came blowing our way. On to plan B: We texted our survey out to all our friends and family members, receiving a 90% response rate, which helped us to further validate our assumptions.  

The afternoon and evening hours were filled with constant communication and feedback loops to make sure our brand identity and mission were in alignment. As the clock struck 11 p.m., the PAPILIA team felt like we were on top of our game, but haunted by a question, “Is everything supposed to feel this good, like we are actually ahead of schedule?” But the answer was yes. It was time to go home to recharge for the final hours on Sunday.

Sunday October 12th, the final day of TSW:Women. Our team was busy designing the final touches of the PAPILIA app while aligning our revenue model with the results of our survey and market research before the pitch coaches arrived at 11:45. I was preparing to present our pitch by outlining market research statistics, only to change the entire presentation after talking with the coaches. Their advice was priceless. Be yourself. It’s your story and your passion. You know this product better than anyone else, so believe in your product. And DO NOT start a pitch by asking a question. 

I undoubtedly had a mix of emotions as I approached the audience, but the five-minute pitch felt seamless. The only reason we rocked our pitch and live app demo was because of our team’s passion and dedication throughout the weekend. 

Papilia TSW Women

PAPILIA won crowd favorite and second place overall. Receiving these accolades was an exciting moment, but I learned so much more from TSW Women that I will take forward in my entrepreneurial journey. I walked out of HQ Raleigh on Sunday feeling proud, confident, and courageous because I tried something new and I was following my passion. 

What is next for PAPILIA? The TSW team is interested in moving forward with our idea. We are going to meet in the coming weeks to talk about our next steps, and will talk to advisors that have offered their time to the team. This early stage concept has now become a new reality for me. Who knew? I didn’t. 

My lessons learned from this weekend: 

1. Expect the unexpected; you have nothing to lose by trying something new. 

2. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you just try it? 

3. Fear is natural, but don’t let it become a barrier to your success.