Yes, I’m a “hackathon virgin” but an experienced marketing and branding professional with a strong educational background. As founder and creative director of Cook, I’m focused on startups and small business though I do consult with educational institutions from time to time. Last week, I was asked to mentor teams participating in a 54-hour hackathon called Startup RVA Weekend coming up in Richmond, Virginia. The wonderful folks at CRT/Tanaka are providing great space and equipment. During this event, entrepreneurs will have a chance to pitch their ideas to programmers, advertising executives, designers, and PR professionals. Each gets just a couple of minutes. The whole group votes and approximately eight lucky entrepreneurs will be chosen. Then the fun really begins as teams come together to develop marketing plans and the creative communications materials needed to really help launch these startups well.
Why do professionals and students participate? It’s a great opportunity to learn a lot, network within the business community, and develop cool materials that could well be used. Each team will work out ownership rights and many often continue working together after a hackathon. If it comes together well, everyone on a successful team can earn money down the road as the business launches and profits come in. Past this larger goal, there’s a lot to be learned and good times to be had throughout the development process. Richmond (RVA) is a very vibrant and creative city. VCU and other top universities in it and nearby have done much to add to its culture.
Let me also add a bit of background about Startup Weekend. It is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 400 past events in 100 countries around the world in 2011.
Here’s what the non-profit Startup Weekend group has to say about a startup weekend in the US.
Whether entrepreneurs found companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups. If you want to put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, register now for the best weekend of your life!
I’m very excited about participating in this event and have an ulterior motive past wanting to share my experience and help educate you on just what goes on during one of these sessions. I’ve got a startup idea myself that I believe is a big one. It’s an international business idea that’s focused around doing something for the greater good of people. If it comes together well and succeeds in the way that I’d like, it could gather momentum ala the way that David Droga of Droga 5’s Tap Project has in the past couple of years. I’m also excited to learn more about coding, and app building too. Some of my friends are beginning to learn coding or, like me, want to learn it. I’d like to demystify the process for both you and myself a bit if possible.
So plan to stay tuned to this blog and my Facebook page as I explore the world of hackathons and take you on my journey to launch my startup. I’m going to be transparent about it and you’ll have a chance to see what I learn, what road blocks I run into, how to prepare and pitch to investors, and much more. We’re all guaranteed to learn a lot.