Monday morning I had one of the craziest cab rides of my life to JFK in New York. A Russian by the name of “Sev” must have committed over a 100 traffic violations in the 20 mile ride. Passing cars on two way streets at red lights, flying through the intersection the instant the light hit green, Sev knew how to game the roads. He knew every trick on the way to the airport, where he could pass on the right, where he could run through a stop sign, and where he could pretend to ram the car next to us to merger. The radio is blaring Spanish news, and even though it is 5:15 in the morning, horns are blaring around my yellow speeding bullet.
NYC started innocently enough, an email by Michael Wills, seeing the TechCrunch article. He worked with Polytechnic University (which has some fantastic faculty such as Bruce Niswander) on the location, and started planning the weekend. I landed on a Thursday, and took a cab downtown, to meetup with an old friend. My sister and brother-in-law joined for dinner at JG Mellon, or as Sean’s boss described, ‘the best burger in the city.’ It was very, very tasty to say the least, and it was fun talking to my PhD sister about New Media, freaking her out with my iPhone, twitter, and this crazy thing called Startup Weekend.
The weekend kicked off with some major energy, with 80 Founders gathering at Poly to create this company. We slowly chipped down the ideas to one idea, ironically answering the question, ‘where is the best burger in the city.’ We broke out into groups and started on the architecture, UI and design.
Friday night I ended up taking the wrong subway line to a similar named stop near my friends apartment in East Brooklyn near Coney Island. With no cabs at 2am, I decided to walk the 2 miles between lines. Without the mountains to guide my direction, I walked away from where I wanted to go, going through some areas that native Brooklyn residents didn’t believe I got through at 3am. I was about halfway down a block when I saw a black cat and a small group of yonger guys drinking in the street. I thought to myself, stupid idea Hyde, 2:30am in a bad neighborhood, turn around. So I did. They noticed, and the next 5 minutes were a blur of a low speed chase. I ducked down a alley and watched them run by and breathed a deep sign of relief. I still needed to find my friends place, now over 4 miles away. After a long search (with lots of looking over my shoulder) I finally found a taxi and was at my annoyed friends apartment late at night. I woke up hours later to catch the right subway to the event.
The weekend was a flurry, quick decisions, coffee and lots of laughter. I am very inspired by everyone I met, some truly brilliant people. Favoreats.com was chosen, and the logo was developed by Ricky Ferrer (who’s Mom lives in Boulder and wrote a post about the weekend here). I think that is my first link to a blog run by a mom of a friend of mine!
We had a visit from Meghan and Angie from Crispin Porter + Bogusky (a place I have nothing but great things to say about). Angie and I joked about our hidden life as full stack java developers as we listened in to Ryan http://startupweekendnyc.blogspot.com/ lead a development meeting. It was great to show off the energy of the group, and to get some insights from the CP+B crew on their thoughts on agile development, design and general trends in the industry.
Mistakes Made: NYC is an amazingly busy place. Was it naive to think that someone signing up would commit to the weekend like the Boulder weekend? Perhaps. The biggest mistake was planning the weekend on Yom Kippur. I was told during the weekend that NYC has a bigger population of Jews than Israel. Another mistake I made was watching the UI decision process drag on and not step in to help make descicions. This error took away a few precious hours from the development process. The retention rate from day to day was not up to my expectations. I am sending out surveys to find out the problem. The motto of the weekends in general has become ‘Try, Test, Tell.’
It ended without an official release of the product. The community was strong enough to realize that the weekend was bigger than a simple application. I will be working with many of the attendees in the future.
Swell (A NYC Founder) poses some questions about how to better organize the weekend. We will try some of these out at Houston, organized by the phenomenal Erica O’Grady. I fly in on Wednesday, with meetings set up with some great people.