Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Startup Weekend Mexico - Part 1

Startup Weekend Mexico - Part 1 (Part 2, Part 3) (in spanish)

The "other" reality

I wanted to write my daily review using the title "Back to reality", but I would be lying. This weekend I was lucky to attend Startup Weekend Mexico City and I can tell you with emotion that the adrenaline is still on my system and I've returned, to another reality.

Maybe it was fate, but last Friday morning I stumbled upon a strange tweet that anounced a Startup event; digging a little and pulling the thread I found out, a little discouraged, that such event will start that same afternoon and will end on Sunday with a presentation of projects and products built in just 54 hours by teams of entrepreneurs and entrepreneur's apprentices combining their ideas and technical, design and bussiness skills.

Maybe it was also fate that there was just one remaining developer's slot available. Immediately I thought of all the appointments I had already made for the weekend: a baby-shower of one of my best friends, a birthday party of one of my cousins that also was celebrating graduating from college, and last but not least, the boxing  fight between Paquiao and mexican Marquez on Saturday night. A tough decision because, besides all of these things, Saturday's morning I'm 100% responsible of my apartment and Diego, my two years old son.

"What a shame, another programmers event lost" I thought. But deep inside something told me this event was different and that it was part of the beginning of a path that weeks (maybe years) before I've been searching. So I would have to sacrifice some things and get into it. After a couple of minutes of thinking on consequences I bought the ticket and the rest of the things fall into place by themselves.

My expectations

First I thought a possibility was just to show up and explore a little around Start-ups, hear what it was all about and learn by "watching"; keeping myself aside just as needed to be able to escape to one of my other appointments during the weekend, and show again Sunday afternoon to see the results of the work of all the teams. Maybe I would be able to attend another future event and participate full time on it.

The event

I arrived just a little before six, I must admit I did that because the first arrivals would get the book "Startup Weekend: How to Take a Company From Concept to Creation in 54 Hours", and it was a good motivation. Once you get your material, they suggest you to network and talk with the people already checked in. It's a little strange as interacting with people you don't know is hard to do at the beginning, but in no time you get used to it and you find out a lot of them are in their first Startup event too, that they share the same questions around starting a bussiness project and that they have some ideas already "worked" for some time before. Some of us, first timers, bring a big safety net (just like the ones used by trapeze artistes in the circus) translated into sentences like: "I'm here just to check it out", "I'm thinking on not working in a team, I just want to check how it goes", " the truth is I don't have much time, think I won't be able to participate 100% on a project".

To wait a little more for the rest of attendees, Santiago Zavala, one of the organizers with which I have already stumbled before in a Google event, started up a group game to heat up engines: everybody must stand up and sit in a new table with unknown people, Post-it notes with words proposed by the attendees where sticked on a window, they were on two categories: funny words and techie words. Each team named  someone to go pick a couple of Post-it notes and with those words teams must prepare a pitch. Next day I discovered that one of my teammates was Mark Makay, the truth is at the beginning I thought he was just another attendee starting on entrepreneurship, the funny thing was that one of the words we picked up was "Design Thinking" and the other one "rejoice" and I think Mark, an interaction designer with years of experience was able to say something about it. The premises and the organization of the event were excellent, inspiring.

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