A few days ago I spent the weekend at the Google campus taking part in what most people would call a 'hackaton'. If I am going to be honest I sent in my application because, why the hell not, mostly thinking that nothing would come of it. But would you have it, they actually wanted me to attend.
Invitation in hand, I left my day job last Thursday earlier than usual and made my way over to the Google campus. After, sitting through five minutes of something that was clearly not about 'disrupting fashion and online retail' - yep you guessed it I was not in the right place, I finally found my way to the networking drinks. I must have looked somewhat lost and confused as I was greeted by an ever so charming yet challenging "you look lost". Sure, I was probably not your usual suspect and probably didn't fit in, but what would be the fun in that.
It felt a bit like speed dating at first, with people jumping from one person to another and questioning each other like there was no time to loose. But this was not your usual 'small talk'. Unlike other networking events where people mostly spend there time sizing up the competition and bragging about personal achievements, this one was different. People seemed genuinely interesting in understanding the skill sets and capabilities of one another, as well as past experiences and thoughts on the matter at hand, in this case 'disrupting fashion and online retail'.
That weekend, over 100 'hackers' - coders and programmers, industry and business people, developers and designers ... - spent their time together for this third Seedhack, a Seedcamp event. Having worked in the public sector where reality is sometimes far removed from the projects being worked on and currently working in the private sector, this whole 'startup' and entrepreneurial feel was something I hadn't really ever experienced.
The goal of our weekend together was to get into teams with or without a pre-defined idea and find a solution to a real industry problem. Leave your hypothetical thinking at home, this weekend was about tangible problems needing concrete solutions. Solutions that would not only solve the problem, but also make profit. The weekend started off with some amazing keynotes speeches, namely Nick Perrett (HarperCollins), Nick Cust (Net-a-Porter) and Davin Hunt (Lyst). When it came time to pitch ideas, only half of us were left sitting. Ideas were clearly not going to be lacking.
The great thing about an event like this one was being able to truly grasp the value of a good team. Where each member brought a unique skill set to the table, something his/her peer could not. Creative thinking or skills, market research and analysis, graphic design, coding capabilities, unique programming skills, you name it nearly each team had all the necessary ingredients to make their idea a reality. Being able to see and be part of the whole process was a unique experience. And for that I thank my team members, the Brandid team - composed of @4nkush, @arush, @spacenick - and our genious iOS developer @marmelroy. A huge thank you also to Carlos, Ricardo and Vincent for an inspiring weekend.
Finally, with so many of these 'hackathons' emerging left and right, it is easy to wonder what value lies in such events, and/or if any of the app or solutions created during the weekend are actually viable. In reality, the biggest value was the networking opportunities. Because really when do you get 72hours to network with truly inspiring and passionate people.
The idea the Brandid team presented was ManBag "an iPhone app that would allow women to leave their shopping in the store once they've made a purchase and when they've finished their handsfree shopping spree ManBag collects all their bags and delivers them to their home or hotel". The idea was to take away some of the pain and stress of high street shopping and allow men and women shop handsfree.