Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Las Vegas Startup Weekend June 2011

I attended on the Technical track.  I think it was about 50% Technical and the rest were mixed backgrounds.  It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot.  I even got to meet Tom from MySpace and Kevin Rose (,, etc).  Kevin is much taller than you might expect.  I've only seen him on The Random Show with Tim Ferriss.

It was interesting to be in demand.  Many of the folks pitching ideas were vying for me to work with them.  Initially, it didn't seem like there were any standout ideas; so, I struggled to pick where I wanted to work.  I was proven wrong by presentation day.  I think I just didn't get the other ideas.

I ultimately chose to work with on a Family Friendly Android App Store.  They had already done a good amount of work on the business model and website for this prior to the weekend; so, we were not eligible for the competition :(  The main piece that they wanted me to fill was the app store client, which is an android app.  This was an exciting challenge to learn how to write android apps in 2 days.  We eventually got the functionality we wanted working by presentation time, but constant internet connection issues killed the demo.  It was great working with them, and I'll likely continue to work with them to finalize a beta release.

The main purpose for this post was to list out my lessons-learned.

  • Kill the presentation.  The groups that really jazzed up the presentation got the best crowd reaction.  This didn't necessarily translate into winning however, but it gives a great sense of accomplishment.
  • If you want to win, target the judges.  This kind of sucks, but the judges are going to be interested in stuff they're involved in.  If you look at stuff they don't get or don't care about, nothing else really matters.
  • You don't need a flushed out idea to pitch.  A lot of folks did, but many just had an idea and went with it.  The more you have the better, but it is relatively low risk to pitch.  If you don't get any takers, you can scrap the idea and work with another group.
  • Make sure you have some environment stuff ready.  My group had everything already, but other groups had to set all that up.  
  • Keep the group together.  My group split for a while so they could get better internet.  This made it more difficult to fix communications between theirs and my stuff.
  • Along with environment setup, internet was a killer.  The WiFi was constantly breaking and slow.  It also killed our demo.
  • The amount that was able to be built when focusing the entire weekend on one thing was amazing.  I plan to use this same method for my own en devours from now on.
  • Have business cards.
  • Don't get distracted by other people or stuff that doesn't matter for the presentation.  This is not a problem for me, because I'm laser focused.  Everyone else reminded me of the chumps in my old CS lab the day before the FTP Client/Server project was due for Dr. Tan.  Maybe stop worrying about the other teams' html and worry about fixing your database.
Overall, I met great people, got inspired, and learned a ton.  Well worth $75.