These are my pretty random thoughts relating to Atlanta Startup Weekend2. I like the multi-idea format. Â It kept people engaged and happy. Â A lot of folks felt the idea selection phase took to long. Â I was an early supporter of this idea. Â However, in retrospect, it might not have been a bad thing.Â Based on the ideas posted to the website, I went into Friday night planning on helping out with Giving Time or the project called Seed Stage Records. Â By the end of the night, I really wanted to work on “Mark’s Horrible Idea” or “Get Me A Date.” Â Hearing the pitches, it became clear that a lot of the ideas weren’t well thought out or appropriately researched. Â This made me uncomfortable, since there really isn’t much time. Â The ideas that were better seemed to draw incredibly huge teams. Â This is also disconcerting, since you’re likely to spend more time arguing than actually doing things. Â “Mark’s Horrible Idea” and “Get Me A Date” were incredibly appealing, simply because they were quirky, morally questionable, and pitched as jokes. Â Which meant they felt nothing at all like a day job. Â I’ve already got one of those, along with a bunch of side projects. Â I came to ASW2 to have fun, and these were the projects that seemed the most fun to work on. I pretty much ended up as the front person for “Mark’s Horrible Idea” (rebranded Reepli.com. Â This taught me some really important lessons.Â
Teams are crucialWe were able to accomplish what we did because all of us had worked together in the past. This made it possible to check our egos at the door and focus on who would be best doing what. The project was originally “Mark’s Horrible Idea” but I ended up taking on the biz dev and marketing duties. That happens a lot in the real world. What doesn’t happen a lot is that transition occurred without any real conflict or founder’s anxiety. Structuring the team that way just made the most sense. Having a good team that understands each other and knows how to make each member useful is crucial to getting something done in a short amount of time.
Context Switching is HardI’m not a biz-dev person, I just played one at ASW. Something I find incredibly hard and will work on more in the future is switching between coder and something else. When you’re programming and deep into the problem, it’s important to switch gears and focus on the points that are relevant to your audience. They probably don’t care that you use Capistrano. They probably do care what problem you solve and how you intend to make money. Also, as the de-facto team lead, a lot of what I needed to do was make sure everyone was being productive and knew their importance to the goal. However, as a programmer, my desire was to stick my headphones on and jump head first into the code. Finding the right balance isn’t easy.
Beware mock dataMore often than not, this ends up on a projector in a room full of people. Thankfully, everyone found it funny and nobody was offended.
CreditsI’d once again like to thank everyone for their hard work and point out their key contributions (in no particular order).
- Amro Mousa did some front-end and worked extensively on the search components
- Hamed Hashemi built search and reply modules and assisted with all the server work
- Mark Luffel pitched the idea that made us laugh. He also built a lot of the front-end and tossed in a most of the AJAX
- Erik Peterson our resident rails uber-guru built a ton of the backend and wrote the unit tests. We had nearly 75% of our code covered thanks to him
- Joe Uhl wrote the reply transformation module, before his real startup called and he had to leave us for the weekend
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