If Startup Weekend is entrepreneurship on training wheels, then we sure could use an event that’s one step more advanced. Once you understand the dynamics of choosing a team, the compromises involved in pivoting, and the pitfalls of not validating customers, there should be a place to dig deeper into your startup idea – execute, period. I’m glad to say this weekend I found that next step.
S.P.A.R.K Chicago kicked off last Friday like any other Startup Weekend, except these entrepreneurs were hungry. They knew that not only would they be judged on launching a startup in 54 hours, but the top three teams would move forward for another three days to find one ultimate winner. The stakes were high because the competition was steeper and the prizes were money. But what I saw motivating these teams was that coming out on top of this unique event would be something memorable (okay fine, the prizes valued at over $100k were part of it too).
Here at TokBox we love seeing you, our OpenTok developer community, build awesome applications. To help make your OpenTok app a success, TokBox is sponsoring travel to Startup Riot Seattle for two deserving OpenTok app developers.
So what exactly is Startup Riot? Startup Riot is an all-day event which highlights 25 startups through three minute, four slide presentations given by the startups. The startups subsequently answer questions from a judging panel for three minutes.
Seb Lee-Delisle gave an absolutely smashing talk at GothamJS on Saturday about particle physics on the HTML5 Canvas. He did a live code-along and in less than forty minutes we all made some HTML5 eye candy just like in this video:
At TokBox we put our normal schedule aside for a couple days to run our first internal hackathon. The rules were simple: pitch an idea, form teams, build something, then demo it 30 hours later. The winning team would get a prize.
My team didn’t win (though we were proudly among the first losers), but it was a really positive experience. Here’s why I think every company should try doing an internal hackathon:
This past weekend Tokbox was at Game Hack Day in NYC and we must say it was more fun than we expected. The organizers had a great set of API presentations which included Foursquare, Twilio, OMGPOP, Aviary, and of course OpenTok. We also had the pleasure of learning more about some pretty cool libraries and hardware to hack with. They really went all out, even procuring Parot AR Drones and Microsoft Kinect devices to entice the participants and spark some creativity.
Las Vegas Startup Weekend was this past weekend with a star-studded panel of judges, including Kevin Rose (tea enthusiast and Packer fan), Tom Anderson (everybody’s MySpace friend), Tony Hsieh (deliverer of happiness), Ryan Carson (ThinkVitamin founder), and Josh Reich (banking disrupter).
One thing is for sure: the developer and hacker community cares about sparking positive change. After spending a weekend as a hacker at the Hack for Change event (superbly hosted by Change.org), I saw over a dozen great ideas to hear about problems, find solutions and get people involved in those solutions. I wanted to highlight some of my favorites:
GoodNeighbor: Help get small tasks done like changing a lightbulb or taking out the trash for an elderly or disabled person in your neighborhood.
FindMeAPet.org: Save an animal from being put down by subscribing to data on incoming animals from local shelters.
IGotUGot: Backyard gardening exchange that helps you connect with the community and barter using whatever you grow at home (or have extra laying around).
PDB: Personal Daily Breifing the way Obama gets on his desk every morning, stay in touch with issues that you care about.
PicketLine.us: Voice your protest against a corporation and the practices you dislike. Profile the company and what people think about their choices.
SafeHood: Take your neighborhood watch digital via SMS notifications, simple and anonymous.
AnonyMouse: Connecting LBGT youth with mentors that can safely and anonymously answer difficult questions for someone who needs a conversation to help them get through a challenge.
AnonyMissing: Report lost friends without compromising yourself by keeping it anonymous
ShoppingAdvisor: Using data from GoodGuide to give you an aggregate view of your Amazon shopping history based on impact on the environment, carbon footprint, and other social awareness metrics.
What’s About My City: Spread the word about problems in your town and vote on those you agree should be fixed.
GreatDebate: Embed widgets on your own sites to connect with a cause and get decision maker feedback on that cause right away.
Alerter: Better emergency response is one tap away. Uses your medical profile, your select contacts (incl. Facebook), and your selected messages to get the word out when you need help.
GoChip.in: Event management for volunteer coordinators
Corrupt: report acts of corruption around you and hold those people accountable publicly (I worked on this one)
GovContrib: a bookmarklet that gives you a quick reference on how much certain companies have contributed to certain parties (uses Sunlight API)
Piece of Mind: An online and offline way for veterans to connect and voice stories through art. Kickstarter donation funded mosaic to be built.
Congratulations to GoodNeighbor (first prize), AnonyMouse (runner up), FindMeAPet (second runner up), Alerter (honorable mention) and all the teams that hacked though the wee hours on their projects. These ideas weren’t about building the next Fortune 500 company and retiring early, they were about making a difference in people’s lives. Seeing people staying up all night for that, truly is admirable.
We’re happy to announce that TokBox won the Demo Table Competition at the 7th Founder Showcase in San Francisco this week. Woo hoo! Our trusty TokBox crew members toiled away for hours (five to be exact) showing off OpenTok. They demo’ed everything from PokerView, to Meet Me Under the Mistletoe and eBuddy. See their smiley faces below.
Thanks to the Founder Showcase audience for helping us bring home the win!
We will be co-hosting HAPI Hack Weekend at our San Francisco office June 10 – June 12.
HAPI Hack Weekend is a hackathon focused on leveraging APIs to create cool new software. The event brings together designers and developers for a chance to win prizes, create products and meet talented people.
Our CEO, Ian Small, will be participating on a panel at the RWW 2-Way Summit on Tuesday, June 14th in NYC.
The 2WAY Summit NYC is a tech conference about the future of the web that takes place, June 13-14 at Columbia University in New York City. The event will feature two energizing and interactive components that will bring our influential audience together for two days of electrifying content.