Having never done much with startups I decided to head over to startup weekend Honolulu to see what all the fuss was. It took place at BoxJelly a coworking space that, from what I know about it, had quite humble beginnings and was bootstrapped by itself. I originally visited the BoxJelly because I was interested in HICapacity a Honolulu hackerspace/makerspace.
I have visited many makerspaces/hackerspaces and wanted to meet some of the individuals of one of Hawaii’s. Hawaii is an interesting place with unique people and being the type of person I am I sometimes take culture for granted. I could tell that for myself to really get to know these people and understand the combined culture at BoxJelly and HICapacity I would have to spend some time there. While I did attend a VR meeting led by the gentlemen named Ka’i but after that I just could never find the time to head over and hangout. I live about an hour away and it is just not possible with my schedule.
I also attended a pre Startup Weekend event because I have always been interested in starting a business and I was interested in the framework that I was told about when that conversation came up. I registered as a Developer and proceeded to listen to some entrepreneurs and other speak. They later held a raffle and I won free ride to the event.
I emailed the email address that I was told to email for my free ride and never received a response. I just waited to see if they were going to coordinated as the date got closer. I still did not receive anything. Being on the mailing list, when the date was closer, I started receiving ticket purchase emails alerting me to purchase a ticket soon. I emailed the address again and this time received a response! Being I did not need a ride I received my highly discounted ticket which I will not reveal the cost of. BOOM I WAS IN.
Before the Event
I did not know what to expect and having been to a lot of conferences over the years assumed it may be the same. I knew that I was going to have to work with a team and get a business running in 54 hours. Sounded fun. I have a lot of ideas but I could not think of one that I wanted to use at the event so I was going to just wing it and join a team when I got there.
Having never started a real business or attended a Startup Weekend before I almost thought about pulling out as I wanted to get some coding work done on a personal project of mine. I manned up and thought: when would I ever get to do this again? Also from my earlier journeys to BoxJelly I still had interest. I also had the dream of winning or at least starting something great with someone that could continue after the event. It is so hard to get a group of people together and get them to do anything collectively. In fact it has been said that this is the hardest thing to do for any entrepreneur, focusing many people on one thing.
I was able to meet a few founders of some seemingly lurcrative business startups in the begining and listened to some of them speak. It was cool to meet one of the founders of LaunchKey as security is what I am all about.
Startup Weekend made all this 54 hour stuff possible quickly. It streamlined the process of generating ideas and creating teams. Here is a list of teams that was generated/won out:
- Open Patent
- Tidy Panda
- Race Life
- Focus Opus
- Date Day (aka D Day)
- Atmo Systems
- N/A (Amanda Nelson)
- Supply Me.ORG
- Robo Liquidater
- Name Hub
- Startup Weekend for Musicians
- MJ New Co
While all of them were striving to be innovative there is a few I would like to mention before I head on to the rest of the story:
Open Patent is a wonderful idea. It involves setting up a patent system of framework and support to allow one to patent the things they want to protect while also giving industry hope by promoting and guiding one to opening patents up. I hope this venture is successful and hopefully I get to participate in it in the future.
Race Life is innovative in the fact that it tracks your running movements and lets you challenge people virtually online. It is a cool idea.
MJ New Co was about the emerging markets of Cannabis sales and how if one had a proactive stance on this issue one could defiantly profit. While this venture is controversial the creator was serious and this is what counted in my opinion. With increase legalization of this drug one could think of this eventually being the same as starting a Beer company. Do you know how much money Beer companies make?
There was a few other ideas that where pitched that did not seem to gain any traction among the group that attended. One was an education aggregator that wanted to put the free education and classes online in the hands of the learner quickly and easily. I liked this one.
I also tried to pitch an idea called impedancewiki but being that I did it on a whim and was unprepared I did not do to well. I found my self more nervous then I should have been and in the end concluded that if I ever want to do that again I should have at least have the idea in a presentable form as I know I did not get the idea of the project understood and felt that everyone thought it was just going to be another wikipedia. Considering that it is much different then that and I received few votes I know I did not do a great job. Still it was great to get up there, experience the situation, and have a venue to present my idea. Next time I think I will be ready and understand what the initial 60 second pitch part of Startup Weekend is all about.
While I thought most of ideas where great I really did not want to spend the rest of the weekend programming something I did not want to make. I wanted instead to find a cool project, something original, with someone who really needed my help.
I ended up being part of Robo Liquidator. The idea that really wants to bring real robots into your life.
I ended up grouping up with a master coder who can use vim and pound out java code like nobody’s business and learning a lot of different things. The coder also challenged me an pulled me outside of my comfort zone by asking me to figure out things that I never figured out before.
We also had a third part time member on the team who helped us with the presentation of the product but was focused on the open patent project I mentioned earlier.
I did a decent amount of coding and ended up hitting a wall with it at one point as one of the venues we wanted to post some pictures to seemed to not work well with python mechanize. It was getting close to the end and we needed something. After moving to twitter and twython we raced to the end of the product coding with some integration between the two code sets and did some testing.
Since we only had three people on the team we had a bit of a hard time working on the rest of the project and our business presentation was not as flashy as the rest.
The judging and presentation event was in an hour. We had to move on…
We had some live technology and knowing the problems that come up with demos once we got the prototype tech working we wanted to present. We ended up presenting first and did a decent job for the number of hours we could possibly put in it. The robot moved, could be controlled over the Internet from anywhere, had video and took pictures. It was awesome.
The rest of the groups had some clever presentations.
We did not win…
I think if we would have had a few more team members we really could have won. I also think we needed to open up the uses of the robot at least for presentation to the judges.
While it would have been nice, since it was my first time, I was happy to even be there and enjoyed every second of it no matter what. It was also great to meet some new people who had vision and enthusiasm for new things.
I plan to continue this adventure and I will and I think that is what this entire event was really all about.
Time to move forward.