Great job guys, I was proud to be part of the team that day no matter what else happens.
Pixel Hack Day took to the stage for their second go around after the success of the first one this time last year. It’s meant as a weekend to connect the developer and designer communities in pursuit of an awesome hack.
Taking place at the end of Global Entrepreneurship Week, it is just one of many events that are taking advantage of the growing startup community in Toronto. Presented by 500px, one of Toronto’s breakout success stories in the last few years, 500px’s mission is to empower photographers to discover, share, and sell their best work.
The goal of Pixel Hack for 500px is in part to uncover great talent in a straining market where developers and designers have been a rare breed and competition is fierce for their skills. As more startups are created the demand and scarcity of talent has become an increasing issue many companies in town. (more…)
By the time day 3 rolled around it was all hands on deck for everyone at Startup Weekend Toronto, Matt had contacted is professors to get feedback and some of us got out of the building and surveyed folks. All the while our dev dream team continued the coding marathon and the graphic designers where making things look all sleek and sexy.
The buzz high but so was the stress and the pressure. Last minute pivots were coming fast and furiously all weekend for many of the groups. Matt was putting the finishing touches on the pitch, we were combing the web to find that last stat to seal the deal, the designers were cranking out an awesome landing page and creating mock ups of what the UI would be.
When you get into these types of situations you get into tunnel vision mode, where all the chaos that surrounds you fades away, you get into the zone where the only thing that matters is the task at hand. By talking to professors, students, and people in general Matt realized that Groupnotes could help educators, in particular Professors with a way to assess how team members contributed.
At this stage of the game at Startup Weekend Toronto it is about validating the idea, as the coders code and the designers do their thing. It is where the race starts to pick up speed and everyone goes all in. The group I joined called Groupnotes had 10 or so people. Matt Gardner who just one the Peel Startup Weekend the other week for another and pitched groupnotes was in the zone all day much of the day, talking to the parade of mentors being a sponge like all of us were with each other. We had one group bring in lighting for a video and by the evening you could see many hitting their mark as they made the mad dash to the pitch point which is now just hours away.
Startup Weekend makes you feel like you are a screw loose, always reaching and falling, you have face problems, roadblocks all while trying to herd the cats is a job unto itself (Matt’s been great thus far, that’s for sure). Everyone has approaches problems differently and you get such conflicting advice from one mentor to the next is hard to figure out what you should do. There are more than a dozen groups all working to have their demos ready for the pitches, we started testing the extension late last night and into the morning.
I will give it up to our awesome devs who have been coding non-stop since the flag dropped, they have been machines and that is why I will bow before their skill, and that of our designers. While the extension is crash prone we have proved that the syncing ability works and that is a win for us. Now we gotta prepare a demo for the pitch. Meanwhile the business folks on the team were figuring out the business model, doing the lean canvas, SWOT, competitive analysis and as the day wore on and light turned to darkness it was time to figure out what would be said for the pitch.
One of the issues we have is one how to monitize the idea and get past the chicken and the egg (damn am I hungry now). The hard part is that the feedback we received from students and educators shows us new perspectives from the administration’s perspective. This almost splits those who pay for the system (educators) from the primary users of the platform which is what our fearless leader Matt is trying to figure out as we speak. I have seen at least a few pivots go on by several of the groups and we are on the cusp of a similar pivot, not for the product but its positioning.
This is limited by time since we are building all the pages we need as we speak and putting together our deck all to make some pivotal 5 minute magic. It is crunch time, crunch time, and more crunch time but you can tell just by looking none of us would have it any other way. OK my randomish observations from Startup Weekend is over and time to get back in the game, wish us luck.