Liveblogging Startup Weekend

Seattle Startup Weekend has … erm… started up!

[6:04] Things kicked off just past 6 PM with a short statement by Andrew Hyde, followed by a few minutes waiting for latecomers.

Andrew Hyde Seattle Startup Weekend

[6:30] We got going for real, with a mercifully short PowerPoint about the background of the SW concept, tips for the weekend, then we started generating ideas! We’ve been thinking through tons of ideas and batting them back and forth, then pitching them to related tables.

[7:24] Andrew is about to go through the favorite ideas so far. A couple more minutes to pitch ideas.

[7:38] Top ideas so far:

  1. Reality show fantasy league – fun and could Facebook it!
  2. Social mapping service – find local events by tag/keyword.
  3. Match.com for enterprises. Hard to find people in the enterprise who have certain capabilities.
  4. Mobile drinking platform: share your drinking games with your friends via mobile
  5. Freelance blacklist

[7:54] A few more ideas:

  1. RideShare/RideMatch. Nobody does rideshares very well.
  2. Wiki/Contact List. Is this like Plaxo?
  3. Redate. Search for people stood up on dates?
  4. Facebook widget soliciting donations for birthday presents.
  5. Frequent Flyer number website. Prefills out new FF memberships.

Andrew has a hunch the winner might come from the first four or five ideas already presented.

[8:12] Now we’re debating the winner. I like the reality fantasy league idea — lots of eyeballs. Our table might be leaning toward the mobile drinking game.

Seattle Startup Weekend

[8:26] Top 4:

  1. Match.com for Enterprise
  2. Freelancers Network / Blacklist
  3. Rideshare.
  4. Greenshare: Pay donations to encourage green behavior. This is Andrew Hyde’s idea that he says he’s pitched unsuccessfully 13 times.

WTF. Alright, time to figure out which of these I could get behind. One guy raises his hand and says anything with “enterprise” probably couldn’t be done in a weekend. Good point. Andrew says 15 minutes more max to reach a decision.

Lots of Q&A about Match.com for Enterprise idea. There’s a sense of unease about the scope of the idea, even though people get the gist of it and like it. More concern about the Freelancer idea – liability, slander, probability that contributors will get blacklisted as “cranky freelancers.” Next a pitch for Rideshare. One guy makes the point that the Seattle Startup Weekend might want to go for an idea that represents Seattle values. Nice call.

[8:47] Acceptance voting time.

Rideshare takes the bulk of the votes. This was my vote too. YAY.

Next: the actual work. Usability and product managers are going to get together and define what we’re making. Introduce constraints, to indicate what we ARE making and what we are NOT making. There’s a minor quibble over whether the bizdev people and marketing people should be included in the product management. Andrew says no. He’s probably right, as you could end up with a diluted vision.

[8:57] The groups split up – devs, UX, bizdev, etc. There are 37 of us in the propeller-head corner. An outgoing guy named Scott takes charge. We take a mini-pool about who absolutely doesn’t want to do front-end, back-end, etc. Good question about who is going to QA. QA in a weekend project? HERESY. Besides, isn’t that what we slap a little “beta” tagline under our logo for? (I jest). Then a little survey about the level of experience people have. Most people are in the 5-to-10 year range.

Good idea to delay technology discussion for a bit. Flame war potential has just been reduced a LOT. Get any group of devs together, however, and you’ll have religious wars.

[9:16] The whiteboarding begins. Whiteboards are to developer meetings what barkers are to carnivals — everybody gravitates and gapes. Front-end people: Scott, Myk, Dave. Back-end people: no names, but some votes for Ruby, Python, .NET, SQL Server.

[9:21] Good question: what about hosting? There’s apparently a systems / IT group around here somewhere, but nobody can seem to find them (yet). Some gracious soul just volunteered a server.

[9:26] Voting starts to take place for technologies. .NET got killed because we’re hosting on Linux systems. Bummer. Then the “hate vote” comes in, asking “who has a visceral hatred of technology X” — not too many votes for anybody, except Java.  Hello Seattle! 🙂

[9:54] Looks like the dev group is gravitating toward PHP/Python/Ruby for backend code (really middle-tier code).

[10:05] Uh oh.  There’s a big possible change in the works: the rideshare idea looks competitive and possibly unpromising to a new startup.  We’re discussing now.

[10:20] A straw vote of the attendees found about 50% of the crowd wanted to change the idea based on the competitive analysis. More discussion until 10:30.

[10:26] Basecamp login: https://startupweekend.grouphub.com/login. Unfortunately we don’t have accounts yet. Hm. The dev group sent around SVN username signup sheets, so I downloaded and installed TortoiseSVN. It’s a pretty easy client. The IRC hangout is freenode #sws. The Chatzilla plugin for Mozilla browsers is fine for this one.

[10:28] About a third of crowd has filed out thus far. 9:00 AM seems like it’s only a short time away!

[10:30] A couple replacement ideas:

  1. Fantasy Reality League (yay!) Pro: lots of traffic. Cons: Legal issues. Women/Men divide? What’s the revenue model?
  2. Match.com for Enterprise: Pro: huge need? Con: competing enterprise KM systems? Enormous companies doing the same thing at many levels?

The vote went overwhelmingly in favor of the Match.com for Enterprise. We’ll get started bright and early tomorrow.

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