I attended my first Startup Weekend in Kansas City in 2009. I was on a team of 6 people consisting of an experienced entrepreneur: Jon Crawford (founder of Storenvy), a marketing/PR guru: Janette Crawford, a designer: George Brooks, and three software developers: Matt Secoske, Ryan Felton, and myself.
We built an app called Annotify which copied webpages and allowed you to draw and place sticky notes on top of them. It was ambitious and intense; I slept about 3-4 hours per night during the weekend. We laughed at ourselves because as we were hurrying to build the prototype, Jon would assign a task to Ryan, but he had to ask what his name was again since we all just met the day before. We barely knew each others’ names at the time, but I’ll never forget them now.
I was definitely the least skilled member of team at the time in the technology that we used (Ruby on Rails), but we collectively decided what I would work on and though I was slower than the other developers and used Google for nearly every step and asked a lot of questions, my teammates didn’t mind and I learned a lot, had a lot of fun, and contributed to the underlying parts that made the whole thing work.
The things I remember most are writing code in the van on the way to the final presentation, the demo during that presentation that didn’t quite work as expected, being blown away by George’s amazing icons, and Ryan eating a whole plate of vegetables.
It was an experience I recommend everyone have at least once. Collaborating with strangers towards the common goal of building something ambitious in a seemingly impossibly short amount of time tests your strengths, improves your weaknesses, and cultivates your resourcefulness and drive. And that’s why we’ve held the event in Omaha three times since 2010. So come to our fourth Startup Weekend Omaha next week. Register here