Startup Weekend was a mind blowing experience for me. Seeing what other people did in such a short amount of time was inspiring. The result for me was two fold: team and process.
The team that worked on the Woopra project has decided to stay together to work on more projects after they finish the Woopra app. I think this is an excellent idea and I will be copying it. Right now I’m working on putting together a small team in DFW. Mostly developer oriented people that are willing to invest one Saturday a month and a few hours each evening to whatever we are working on plus splitting the hosting cost for a server (cheap). Still need a graphic artist/UI person.
Dan Owen & Eric Engineer both spent some time talking to us about funding, entrepreneurship, and general startup stuff. First, Eric’s explanation of VC funding makes me less hostile towards VCs. I’m still not wild about giving up ownership of a piece of my work to some blowhard with money, but that isn’t what is going on. More important than VCs though was the insight in to how to build out from the point of Startup Weekend to actual company: go find users.
The process for a startup should be: go find a bunch of users, talk to them about what troubles them and deliver a solution to that problem. What developers (by developers I mean myself) generally do is write some piece of software and then go looking for users to use it. That is how 99% of technology startups get started. It does work, but it is painful, the industry is full of lore about how company X started out to build Y(a game) but then ended up doing Z (Flickr). Getting the users first helps short cut this process. The details are covered in “4 Steps to Epiphany”.
Another thing I learned is that I’ve absolutely go to get more comfortable in front of a camera and presenting in front of a crowd. I swear to god I look like I’m a convict in front of the firing squad. I talk so fast I sound like a chipmunk on crack. Not appealing.
I’m still processing what happened last weekend. Mark, Alex and the team (sorry I’m forgetting names and they aren’t on the site) did a great job. I can’t wait until we do it again.
Good luck to pickyplates, Openwishlists, 1FTP and Black Eyed Apps.