We went into this 54 hour event hoping the idea we pitched as first timers would be chosen by the participants, and be considered for the finals on Sunday. Things started rolling with an ice-breaking game to come up with start up ideas using random combination of words. Then came the one minute pitches by about 40 people. One of the organizers (Josh Bob) was hilarious in his comments on almost every pitch. Our pitch thankfully wasn’t shred into pieces, and we were thrilled to see the amazing response by the crowd, and ended up getting the most votes on the first evening. We formed a fairly large team comprised of developers, UI designers, business development and marketing folks – and we had a great time working over the weekend. The view of the Charles river and Boston downtown from the Microsoft NERD Center certainly helped keep us going – it was beautiful.
Day 2 began with us breaking ourselves into sub groups – one each for revenue model, customer validation, branding, and product development. After a lot of brainstorming and analysis of survey answers we received from future customers, we decided upon a revenue model. We also got some positive feedback about the idea itself – to bring together people with similar hobbies/interests but different skill levels to teach and learn from one another. We called it MyHobbyHub. Mentors with technical, legal and venture investing backgrounds gave us inputs on our company and we incorporated their feedback in our plan. We finished close to half of our web development work by evening, and also made a few slides for the final pitch. At nightfall, we saw fireworks over the Charles river celebrating MIT’s 150 years.
Demo Day – We were excited about this day, and wanted to make the best of it. Everyone was upbeat and tried to finish up on time. We got an awesome intro video going which gave us all a kick and got our spirits high. After several practice pitches and demos we were fairly confident of doing a good job and covering all bases. We were second in line for the final pitch, and it seemed like the crowd liked us a lot. We got some good feedback and responses on Twitter #SWBoston. We answered a couple of questions on our revenue model and customer base from the judges, and sat back to watch the others present.
The pitches came to an end when the 15th team presented. There was going to be a judges award and a community award. I was hopeful we would win, but it did not turn out that way. Nevertheless, we got a lot out of the event, had a gala time working on this idea and made some new friends.
I could think of ways to make the event better:
1. By having a more balanced judging panel, with technical and investor backgrounds.
2. Making sure that the products that are demoed have been made in 54 hours, and not in the past few days/months. A couple of demos gave me the impression that the founders had been working on it earlier, but I could be wrong.
3. Having talks by mentors on current trends and ideation.