Apps4VA HAC4EDU (Hacking Across the Commonwealth 4 EDUcation)
We need developers...all over the state. HAC4EDU is a win-win situation for everyone. It's easy to see what's in it for students, parents and educators - cool tools created by Virginia data. But, what's in it for the developers? Great fun, plenty of food, challenging geek-friendly environment. It will be an overall cool experience (X5). To provide a summary of a somewhat similar experience, one of the talented developers from the NOVA EDU Startup Weekend shared his frank and entertaining experience as a newcomer to Startup Weekend. Patrick Crawford is a VCU student and developer at the recent NOVA EDU Startup Weekend organized by Apps4VA (and a perfect candidate for the Richmond HAC4EDU). Enjoy...
In less lurid terms, we stood around a bit, chatted. Then, we were all shuffled into a room where ideas were pitched to the group. No one was allowed more than 30 (60?) seconds to encapsulate why their idea was a good one. Then, the prospective market (the educators there) was asked to go and vote for various ideas. The selected ideas then got another 30 seconds to throw out a different pitch on the same idea. Then, it was off to the races. The rabble was given 3 gold stars to put on each idea’s poster (I think I neglected to mention that each person who pitched an idea was then forced to stand before a piece of paper with the idea’s name and a few hastily-chosen bullet points). The rabble split up and interrogated the prospective founders individually, and awarded their gold stars accordingly. After an indeterminate amount of time we reconvened. The top 13 (out of 50-something I think) ideas were chosen to make the transition to startups. They were given one last task for the evening: a final pitch. However, this pitch wasn’t to sell the idea their startup was worthy, but to try to sell to the community that the idea was worth our time. After interrogating various founders I settled on a game designed to teach children computer science. After that point I’m sure our 3 stories will diverge.
The very end, where the startups presented their projects, is somewhat a blur, due to the efforts preceding. Each startup was allotted 5 minutes, which was somewhat a challenge. My own group didn’t really get enough time to finish presenting our project. Some of the presentations were more marketing-oriented, others were more product-based.
Overall, it was an enriching experience that really showed me what the world of professional programming, and business at large may be like. I’d definitely do it again, though perhaps I’d work in a technology I already had some familiarity with.