Triangle Startup Weekend 2nd place winner here!
I've not been to a startup weekend in at least a couple years (2009?A 2008?).A The format's similar, but the process is (mostly) more polished than it was back then.A Given that, I still wasn't sure what to expect on Friday evening.A I had an idea I considered pitching, but held off for two reasons.A 1 - there were 58 other pitches - everyone got tired towards the end.A 2 - I wanted to contribute on something besides my own ideas.A That was actually harder than I thought it might be.A Let me explaina
Like many of the people there, I have ideas, some I've worked on, and having other people help could potentially be a big boon.A But it can also be disaster.A If someone challenges your idea, you take it personally.A It's human nature, and few can rise above it, especially in the short time frame you're working under.A Better, I thought, to try to be on the other side of things for a while - contributing and improving someone else's idea for a change.
Soa I listened to the pitches.A I certainly appreciate that people have interests and passions and problems, I was disappointed that so many of the pitch ideas were a somewhat lame.A Some described personal problems than someone had which a) didn't resonate with me at all and b) just seemed petty.A These are first world problems we have, when aoi can't decide where to go on vacationa is a problem you promote to a group.A I'm over simplifying here, and reviewing the pitch list just now, I'm being a bit overly harsh, but the aofirst world problema mentality just felt overwhelming to me Friday.
There were only a handful that resonated with me personally, and of those, only one seemed *doable* over a weekend (really, just Saturday) and also didn't strike me as something where the pitcher would actually want to be in total control and micromanage the project:A Kate Lyndegaard's pitch on aoGPS Data Capturea.A Problem was, I couldn't find Kate after the pitches to discuss further.A We almost didn't connect, and I'd felt like going home at that point because so few team ideas felt worth pursuing.A Oh, I also didn't want to be one person on a team of 12 - I wanted to be on a smaller team.
I met Kate, and she'd come down with her husband (Simon) and his friend (Matt), and they all wanted to work on it with someone.A I became that someone.A It was an interesting dynamic - a husband/wife team, known colleague, then unknown me.A We also had Daniel on our team for a bit, but he was splitting his design talents with another team.A Daniel also contributed a great (real) use case example video he made with Simon(?) on Saturday morning.A I think this video helped cement our pitch and explain the value proposition immensely.A As much as I'd like to think my pitching skills helped, I think the video did the trick.A
Back to the story.A We grouped up on Friday night, and discussed the idea in more detailA It was clear Kate had thought a lot about this.A She worked in GIS, had experience with capture/collection processes, and had developed a prototype already.A Ugh.A It was in Flex.A Double ugh.A I'm not a platform bigot as much as I used to be, but my limited experience with Flex is that it's far more complicated for me to do some things than I expect it to be.A Classic chicken/egg, really, as if I spent years with Flex, I might be faster at it.A As it stood, Kate wasn't a hardcore dev, and wasn't completely tied to using the Flex app (she was aFlex'ible on that point).A At that point my brain wheels started spinning.
The core basic platform would be a way to assign people the task of collecting defined (yet customizable) information and associating it with a specific point on a map.A On a mobile device.A That was it.A I had 24 hours to make that happen.A In retrospect, our pitch could have been aoGoogle Maps meets Survey Monkeya, but that trivializes it some, while also bringing the baggage of connotation of both those services with it.
However, I had to - we had to - convince Kate to let us adumb it down'.A Many of the things she's been planning relate to ahigh end' GIS stuff: shape files, kml/kmz, extreme accuracy, etc.A The rest of us were looking at this as a consumerization play on commodity hardware, vs building a tool with professional-grade functionality.A There was a bit of pushback from Kate, but in the end we agreed as a team to explore simpler ideas for the weekend.A This wa
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