SF Startup Weekend EDU

Last weekend I and ~50 other developers, businesspeople and designers attended the SF Startup Weekend EDU hackathon at Grockit HQ, located right around the corner from TokBox here in SoMa. The event marked the first in a series of events in a new Startup Weekend track (EDU) focused on learning and education.

This was the second Startup Weekend I’ve attended since starting here as a Developer Evangelist, and it was noticeably different from the first one I attended which was Startup Weekend MEGA, at Microsoft HQ in Mountain View. Even though SW Mega is generally regarded as a sexier Startup Weekend event due to its visibility, prizes and the three startup tracks it features, this smaller event was more fun for me because it was more focused and seemed to be a more cohesive and intimate.

The team I joined for the weekend, I’m In The Band, made a webapp enabling kids to learn through a karaoke-like app using OpenTok. First they watch a performance of a song (for our demo, the ’50 States Song’), then they record themselves singing it (using OpenTok archiving) with the words scrolling overhead. At this point they can review the recording and rerecord it if necessary. Once they’re ready to save it, the next page has a grid with the original video, the karaoke video, and empty video slots with links to invite their friends to “join the band” to go through the same process. They can also play their video along with the original video simultaneously, with the ability to also add their friends’ videos into the playback once recorded. Adam, product visionary and original idea pitcher, got us into a kid’s tech event at Zeum, so we got the chance to set up a booth and actually test out the app on real users. This real-world validation, combined with an entertaining presentation which also incorporated a video that our front-end guru Jessica made (and of course, the awesome app itself), put us in the finals. We ended up getting edged out by Alumnus (an alumni network), but it was still a great experience.  I honestly couldn’t have asked for better teammates: Jessica and Ruby on Rails genius Peter comprising engineering; Joseph, Felipe, Vipul and Alicja hammering out the business model and research, and of course fearless leader Adam. It sounds like these guys are planning on continuing to develop the app, so keep an eye on the Facebook page for it!

Two other projects at Startup Weekend used OpenTok:

  • Sup My Book:  Supplemented reading material with other forms of media such as YouTube while enabling real-time commentary, which incorporated elements of our awesome, open-sourced app Tube-it (git link))
  • LearnSandbox, a tutoring service that connects kids with mentors, which incorporated video chat via our WordPress plug-in(git link).

All in all a fun weekend. Thanks again to all of the cool people I worked with, and to Grockit for hosting!