Startup Weekend Ideas Week: Saturday

Saturday 2011-10-15

The alarm was set for 06:30; I guess I was wired up enough to not notice the short night too much.

Organizing People is Hard

People trickled in Saturday morning. I started setting up a cardwall of post-it notes to try and set some order to things, although I think I ended up being the only person really using it.

The reason it was hard to get the tech started is that we had four programmers. As if finding a suitable way to break up the work wasn’t hard enough, there were two people with some Ruby experience, and two people with some PHP experience. Ray (Ruby) spent a lot of time on the business side, and one Luis (PHP) had the most design experience, and some browser geolocation code to borrow. In the end we decided on Ruby, with Mingwei (PHP) focusing on API research to inform the Rails application.

I several times wondered if we should switch (I’m always up to learn something new) I spent a lot of time doing install support. Our designer never did use live rails, even after I got running properly. Mingwei even decided to try doing the API testing in Rails, in case it involved a library – in the end Yelp’s OAuth proved daunting and we used the much simpler V1 HTTP API. Even with that, we were still limited to 100 requests per day until the app went live and got approved, which easily got burned through in testing. I ended up registering a new key under my new account to finish up the integration.

Saturday after lunch had two talks. Erin had stopped by our room earlier in the day. She gave a talk on working with designers. She kept it short, saying that people are lazy by nature, so focus designs on minimum effort. Perhaps by demonstration, she offered up some prototyping resources by short url.

The other talk was Brian Wong, of the Kiip mobile rewards network. He had a lot of advice, such as go live in a foreign country for more than six months. He also had great success cold-emailing silicon valley companies and asking to meet with them, often by guessing email addresses. However he tried to sum with with five specific points:

  1. You are the most powerful force in your life, don’t wait for other people.
  2. If the fight is hard, it’s even more worth fighting for – it builds competitive advantage.
  3. Generate serendipity – find the right environment (don’t judge a fish by how it climbs a tree)
  4. Get as much feedback as you can (which means don’t bother with stealth mode)
  5. Hire amazing people. Frame your pitch so they come up with the idea themselves.

Saturday night I stayed at Ray’s house, saving myself a few hours of travel; or rather getting a few extra hours of sleep. Though, in an odd kind of way I missed the opportunity to get some work done on the train, away from the all the noise.

Posted Saturday, October 22nd, 2011 under Conference.

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