Monday, February 9, 2009

An Impressive Startup Weekend

When someone asks me which team I was most impressed with at Seattle Startup Weekend 2, I'll say ALL of them. Wow!

Thirteen teams demoed at the end of Sunday night, winnowed down from 47 ideas presented on Friday and 17 teams starting on Saturday. The most amazing spectacle to me was the Scrampede team, led by John Clifford, which was super organized, had giant project management charts on the wall (courtesy of Paul Osborn), and had a full pitch at the wrapup about how the business could make money and grow. The Scrampede idea came out of an idea John brought up at the brainstorming session I led at StartPad last Thursday -- after the brainstorming, when we split up, almost half the people joined his group to discuss the idea a little further. So, I'm a little extra proud of them, but, to be clear, I can't take any credit beyond providing a venue for initial discussions. But it does show the benefit of starting with brainstorming. Scrampede is one of a number of teams that has plans to continue beyond the weekend.

Another team with a hopeful future was 1nvite, which was the only team that was actually incorporated by the end of the weekend, courtesy of team member Adam Philipp of Axios Law. 1nvite's mission is to make it easy to invite your friends to multiple social networking services at the same time, particularly useful after an event like Seattle Startup Weekend 2.

There were two Twitter apps, TweetSum, which gives you information about your followers to help you determine if you want to follow them back (and a great interface for organizing followers), and TweetReporters, a souped-up Twitter widget (and infrastructure behind it) for newspapers and other news sites.

I think FavorWish was the best looking site at the end of the weekend. You can't tell the home page from a company that's been in business for years. And KnarlyVote, despite its rather, uh, knarly name, solves an interesting voting problem in a very nice way. As they said, it's not a new technique (I'm blanking on the name for the mathematical underpinnings of what they're doing), but I'm not aware of a site that does this. If they can clean it up and solve a few fundamental usability problems, I think they could have a winner. This is a good time to mention that the UX Office Hours that I have at StartPad are open to everyone -- startup entrepreneur, laid-off tech worker, or Startup Weekend warrior. If you want to take a step forward in your UX, feel free to drop by (the next one is this Thursday, February 12th).

As for me ... I didn't do much. I pitched an idea that didn't get enough votes, so I looked to join another team, but the couple I tried to join ended up disbanding. By then, other teams were in full swing and I realized that I still had a lot to do on the second rewrite of my plan for the First Look Forum (more on that later). When I wasn't writing, I walked around, encouraged people, and offered a few suggestions (and at least one got taken, that a team switch to Google App Engine as their platform).

But that does bring up one disappointment -- the selection process on Friday night produced some potential teams that were clearly not viable as weekend projects. For example, a team with zero developers or massive infrastructure needs can't get very far. That's not to say that they were bad ideas (in fact, most of the 47 original ideas were interesting ones), but they distracted. I hope this can be remedied next time out.

All in all, it was a great event. I'm looking forward to seeing which companies survive and, next time, I plan to not have a deadline on something else and dive in all the way.

2 comments:

kevmoo said...

Referrer's logs are a great thing.

KnarlyVote uses Condorcet's Method - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condorcet_method

Roy Leban said...

@Kevmoo: Thanks! I studied this stuff way too long ago.

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