Saturday, May 19, 2012

Startup Weekend Seattle Day 1

I'm back at Startup Weekend again! This is my third event and as always, I'm super excited.

Having been to a few events in the past and being moderately well tuned into the startup community, I came into this event seeing a lot of familiar faces. As I got to meet a number of the participants, I was surprised to find that perhaps up to 50% of them work at Microsoft. In general, this wouldn't be a surprise around the Puget Sounds area, but when it comes to startup events, including the last two Startup Weekends I attended, I typically feel like the number is closer to somewhere between 10% and 20%. There probably isn't a lot to read into in that, but who knows.

As usual, I pitched and idea, but this time I only got two votes, one of which was mine. The problem I wanted to solve was the difficulty in determining whether a group of people are likely to work well together. My initial idea was to create a tool that could tell a person how well they'd fit in a particular team and for the team, how well the incoming person would fit them. It's just too hard to tell what it's like working with a group of people until you've actually worked with them. In general, the ideas that got most votes seemed to be the ones that addressed problems a lot of people in the room faced, were using exciting new technologies, built off of popular trends, or where the presenter had some wacky idea and did a great job presenting it.

After my idea was removed from the selection process, I connected with team whose idea was "10pictures," a product that showed 10 pictures from a person in the highest definition possible and as large as possible. I felt like there was a lot of potential in the possibility of it becoming a social platform and with the Twitter and Facebook overload was excited about the constraint on content. Aside from that, the team lead was a pretty cool guy, who seemed like he'd be fun to work with.

As the team filled out, it grew to over 10 people. The team members generally had strong opinions of how the product should look, overconfidence in what they could achieve in the course of the weekend, and were completely focused on the product vision rather than the business. I imagine they'll build something cool over the course of the weekend, but it's not the experience I'm looking for. It largely reminded me of my experience at the first Startup Weekend I attended. I learned a lot from that experience, but wouldn't repeat it.

As I grew increasingly concerned with my fit on the team, I decided to go check out some of the other teams around the room. I decided to focus on finding out what some of the smaller teams were working on. I quickly synced up with a team of four, comprised of people I had already been interested in collaborating with. As I talked with them, I become really comfortable and found that I meshed really well with them. The idea they were working on was pitched as a site where people could submit startup ideas and vote on them. Based on the pitch and the large amount of potential competition in the space, I wasn't terribly excited about the idea at first. What really sold me though was the awesome team. These guys were really easy to talk to, were already learning from one another, and had already started making some progress on the idea. Regardless of whether the the idea turns into something that might work as a business, I figured it would probably be a fun thing to work on.

After discussing the business model a bit, I felt like the ideas was more interesting and had some potential. I'm really looking forward to getting to know the people on this team better and building something with them this weekend!

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