This weekend I attended my first ever Startup Weekend. I am not sure what I expected it to be like but it was not what I expected at all.
The weekend started off Friday night with 51 ideas being pitched for Startups. It was amazing to hear so many different ideas for starting new companies. After all of the pitches, all attendees we asked to vote for 3 ideas that they liked. After this voting, ideas were selected based on the number of votes and we were left with I believe about a dozen selected ideas. Then the frenzy began…
Teams started to form around each of the selected ideas. There was a definite shortage of developers and designers so I was approached by several teams to join. I went with “Get that kid a job” which was pitched as a service to help students to identify career paths, prep them for interviews, assist with resumes’, and how to keep a job. Over the weekend we were “assisted” by mentors that had us pulled in several directions. In the end we “simplified” our application down to providing week long internships for students at businesses that they were interested in.
We did not win.
What did I learn from the weekend? Well, it was more of the process of identifying a real problem and providing a successful solution. There was more business planning and ideas than there was developing anything. It was great. Even that I own my own business, I have never participated in the whole business planning. We had a small team of four and we all spent the weekend discussing what we wanted our new company to do and how to do it. Even though we did not win, the four of us committed to continue working on the project.
I have never had any desire to work for a startup and I have actually heard bad things about developers working for startups. This weekend changed all of that. Granted there are a plethora of ways to get funding, I think I have gotten bit by the startup bug.
When building web applications for others, there is not any residual income involved. When building open sourced software, there is no residual income or any income for that matter. Time is money and my time is very valuable to me. There were a couple of ideas that I really thought would be good money making ventures and I am talking with some about working on a sweat equity based project. What do I have to lose? Some of my spare time which as I said is very valuable to me. What do I have to gain? Partnering with smart people with great ideas and a revenue stream in the process.
If you have never been to a startup weekend, you must go. From working on something new to making new friends to networking, it was a great weekend.