Interview with facilitator Jernej Dekleva

Jernej Dekleva

Jernej is a program manager at InnoPeaks and a seasoned Startup Weekend organizer and facilitator.

Hi Jernej,

a pleasure to have you as a facilitator. We are very much looking forward to welcoming you in Prague! So let’s dive into questions.

Could you tell us how many events you have facilitated so far?

Thank you Startup Weekend Prague team for this opportunity. Looking forward to being part of the event. Can’t wait to spend the time with SW Prague crew and attendees over the weekend. It will be my 17th startup weekend that I facilitate, and I also organized 15 of them as well — something to celebrate for sure.

Which one was your favorite one?

My facilitator journey took me to many amazing places across Europe. I cherish many great memories from each event, and it’s tough to pick one. I facilitated the first one in Dublin, Kosovo was very special for me since I’m always seeking opportunities to work with former Yugoslavian countries and in Cyprus we hit 100+ attendees. On the other hand, when at SW Bodø in the northern part of Norway we had the coziest startup weekend ever with 7 participants. In Turku, Finland we had two startups last year that generated revenue over the weekend. Every Startup Weekend event is unique and leaves you with special memories that are a blend of the city atmosphere, venue, attendees’ energy level throughout the weekend, mentors and of course SW crew.

How did you start to get involved with startup weekends?

I attended my first Startup Weekend in 2012. I just moved from Slovenia to Denmark, and I wanted to meet people who are also interested in startups and wanted to work on new projects. I had a fantastic experience and met tons of new people. Therefore, I decided to attend the next Startup Weekend one as well.

Furthermore, it was a coincidence that I decided to organize my first startup weekend. Startup Weekends were happening quite regular in Copenhagen at that stage. Few months before Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Denmark in November 2014, Aleksander Bordvik and I noticed that there is no Startup Weekend scheduled in Copenhagen for Fall 2014. We saw an excellent opportunity for us to contribute to Copenhagen startup scene and with a big help of the previous organizer we started planning our very first Startup Weekend. Since then, startup weekends are taking place twice a year in Copenhagen.

A big milestone for Startup Weekend in Copenhagen was in November 2017. As lead organizer, we managed to pull off the first Mega event in Europe and largest Startup Weekend in Europe by date. We ran 4 Startup Weekends simultaneously with 4 different industry focuses at the same venue with 300+ attendees in total.

Would you say it influenced your life? If so, how?

Looking back, Startup Weekend had a profound impact on me, and it still has. As an organizer/facilitator, not only in learning job skills that I would later use in my job but also meeting many great people along the way. That was probably the key element that set up the trajectory of where I am now. There were many opportunities created through networking and exposing yourself to certain situations that usually I would never think of or be able to create for myself.

What did you learn from being involved in startup weekend community? What did you specifically learn from facilitating?

Being involved in Startup Weekend since 2014, I love the fact that people are very open and genuinely determined to make a change through entrepreneurship. Seeing so many passionate people at one place is fantastic. Startup Weekend is a community with very diverse backgrounds, and each person has it’s own story of how he/she ended up being part of the startup community. Next time you see a startup event attendee, current Startup Weekend organizer or mentor, ask that person why is he or she part of the community and what drives them. These answers are powerful in my opinion.

What I learned from facilitating is that there is so much more to learn in terms of startups and life. You can gain tons of valuable insights, experiences, and knowledge from your network you are creating. One rule that it helped me in the past is to always reach out to someone you never talked before.

What advice would you give to your younger Jernej? You know, the one in his early 20s.

I keep my own “Lessons Learned & Observation” diary that’s more in the form of notes to myself. In general, the advice I’m trying to follow is to be enthusiastic and as I mentioned before — trying to connect with people. If I had to choose something that I would give as advice to myself in my early 20s would be working more on my side projects and interest. Especially now in the social media and digital world, learn some new skills and don’t be afraid to spend some money on online tools. See it as an investment in yourself as a learning curve.

Join us March 1st at Startup Weekend Prague for a weekend of exciting challenges!

You can find more about the event and tickets here.

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