A few quick notes on a fun event I attended the last few days. Startup Weekend is a 54 hour event that provides the networking, resources, and incentives for individuals and teams to go from idea to launch.
In a nutshell, I was one of 80 people to show up on Friday evening, where 28 people pitched ideas for products/companies that they wanted to build in the next 2 days, with this event being focused around mobile and gaming. We whittled the 28 ideas down to 13, and everyone split into teams to tackle the projects.
The crowd was an eclectic mix of developers, designers, database guys, product managers and a few random biz dev and marketing guys thrown in. I’ll admit I was a little nervous venturing into this crew. I’m a marketing guy, so I get pretty intimidated by guys who have the technical firepower to make things suddenly appear. But the goal of something like this is to surround yourself with big brains and meet people who inspire you through their expertise and accomplishments, so I tried to dive right in and meet as many interesting people as I could.
The product ideas ranged form the ridiculous to the useful, to the obscure to the just plain odd. But at the end of the weekend, a few groups had launched some pretty cool stuff. And even though some of the projects weren’t fully baked by Sunday night, there were definitely a few things to watch out for. A few highlights:
(Keep in mind that these projects went from an idea to execution in 54 hours…)
Nubi Nubi: A bunch of talented artists and dev guys created a little app where a little avatar would dance to the beat of music you picked for him. You could change the dance moves by clicking on different buttons. Cool revenue opps as you buy more avatars, dance moves, music, and more.
Doodle A Doodle: The winner of the event, this iPad app is designed so that kids can learn to draw (or trace) by tracing over images on the screen. There’s a social network component that parents and kids can enjoy.
Hold It: The crowd favorite for humor. In this game, you are a Men’s room Attendant, and you must coordinate what people get to use what stall in the john. Some characters need privacy, some need space, some are obnoxious, etc… But you must use your skill to gain points by putting people at urinals and toilets they feel comfortable at.
Happy Food: Think a cross between Foursquare, Yelp and Urbanspoon. This app allows you to search for restaurants that cater to special diets, such as Vega, Gluten Free, Nut Free, etc…make recommendations, and provide useful feedback.
Task Me: I dug this organizational app, even though it’s not done yet. I spend enough time using iPhone’s Notepad as a To Do list, that this would be huge if they get it done. Please do it guys…
There were a ton of other cool ideas, and the density of super smart people and knowledge sharing was something I hadn’t been part of for years and years. It was amazing to see such a spirit of collaboration amongst people who don’t know each other. Plus, many of the people there were actually doing pretty interesting things with their real job.
Startup Weekend is one of those events where you can just go and get energized by the spirit and collective intelligence of the people in the room. On one hand, it’s a great place to get humbled, as you see people doing things in real time that shouldn’t be possible to do that quickly. On the other hand, you get an ego boost, because you are able to make an impact and provide your area of expertise to a group of people whose skills you admire, but who have no ability to mimic your own abilities.
I have 100 good stories to tell you about my team. My group’s leader was a fascinating guy by the name of Michael Crick. He would tell these random stories all thru the weekend, and many of them would make me stop what I was doing, look over with a curious stare and say, “Shut the h— up, you did not do that.” Here’s a teaser. I was trying to bang out a marketing plan, while Michael offhandedly told a story of a video game he built long ago. I almost broke my neck when I asked, “Wait a sec. You wrote the spec for the original Madden Football?” I can’t even do the rest of the stories justice in print, but trust me, they are worth buying me a beer to hear.
Moral of the story. Whether you can market, develop, design, or whatever other talent you have, get yourself to a Startup Weekend. Because anything else you have planned for the weekend is less fun, less interesting, and will get you less satisfaction. Bring a good idea, build a team, and make cool stuff happen.