Exhausted thoughts from Startup Weekend for Education

18 hour days, 4 hours of sleep. No coherent posts but some thoughts while it’s close.

I have a strong tendency to be drawn towards complicated problems. If it’s simple I don’t feel like it has merit. So I think of things that are unique and make them more unique by adding details that add complication. That can be useful. But what gets people’s attention is really, no really, staggeringly simple ideas that resonate. No matter that 47 companies out there are doing almost the same thing. If you care, and you want to focus on one little area, you can gather a lot of support.

Success is all about the team. Not just having strong players, but people that share the vision and largely share how the vision will be pursued. I don’t think it’s possible to align a non-aligned team. You can be authoritative and deprecate those that don’t align, but that squashes creativity and turns excited people into workers. Or you can be collaborate and sacrifice alignment for inclusion, but that produces mediocrity. What works is to actually create a team that is aligned on both vision on execution. Personality and relationships are first, everything else is second.

It’s amazing what can be thrown together in a weekend. I’m still undecided as to whether that’s a good or bad thing. The diversity of choices on the web is both inspiring and overwhelming. Having a leading source for something can be as useful as it is constricting.

The weekend was surprisingly random. The good things were fortunate accidents, and the challenges were equally unexpected.

A favorite moment was seeing a young biology student/researcher present his team, his idea, and the web site the team did to implement it. He called it the best weekend of his life! In the first hour of the weekend I had met him – just what you’d expect from an introverted, Korean biology student. He said he had an idea but wasn’t going to pitch it as it was too small. He told it to me, and I encouraged him throughout the evening to do it. I’m sure he would have anyway, but it was cool to see it happen!

Another favorite moment was having our “viral” marketing business plan completely taken apart by one of the mentors. I had “book learned” everything he said, but hadn’t taken it to heart. Reading it is one thing. Having it happen to something you’ve been working on for the last 24 hours is another. Having skin in the game is *the* differentiating aspect of Startup Weekend.

But the best part was working with the team and seeing it come together. We didn’t get everything done, but it was a lot of fun trying. It was an inspiring group of people!

When you have piles of money, everything you say is brilliant. You may be brilliant, but money hides many flaws.

Venture Capitalists are like gamblers after Vegas trips. You hear a whole lot when they have a big win. Otherwise it’s mostly about the buffet.

A 19 year old can be as influential as an experienced person. It’s exciting and I have no problem with that. It’s great that anyone can contribute to the very limit of their ability, whatever their age. Different perspectives are an asset. If I can make as much as a young Facebook star I’ll be fine 🙂

Startup food sucks.

Rails is a cult

Python is a practical alternative between PHP and a real programming language. I’m going to learn it, plus Django.

I sleep now.


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