Startup Weekend in Moldova

Professional Article
This is an OLD POST...
June 4, 2012

I don't even know how detailed do I want to be, I'll do my best to be short.

Previous Thursday, while I was at work, I've received a phone call from a close friend - Alina. She asked me if I would like to participate with her and Alexei on the Startup Weekend. I honestly forgot about this event and now that we sort of had a team: me, Alina and Alexei - it really exciting and tempting to try and participate. Later that day, I've decided to actually participate and I've signed myself in the contest.

Same evening we had to meet somewhere in the downtown of Chisinau, and talk about ideas that we could pitch. As we were sitting in front of McDonalds, we summoned around 7-8 ideas: from task rabbit-like ideas to map-based rental search services.

Next day, at work, I did my best to pitch my ideas in front of my co-workers @ Propeoples' office. My coworkers liked most of the ideas, but there was this one idea where 2 of my coworkers said to me that they would by this app right now! That made me kinda excited as well, because now that idea was a sparkling idea in my eyes.

Same day I found out that one more designer is in our team - Eugen (designer). That evening the Startup Weekend kicked off - lots of people, mentors, sponsors, and of course 2 big tables with lots of food. The setup was pretty interesting, everyone had a plate filled with food (yes, it was Friday and it was after work, all of us were really hungry))) and did their best to pitch ideas in front of mentors, so that they would know from the start if their ideas were good enough.

In a couple of hours the pitching started. I decided to pitch the "Random Event" idea and Alina had to pitch the "Runner" idea. After pitching those ideas, the voting started. We had to walk around the room and explain our idea to people, whether those are other players or mentors or sponsors, anyone could vote. After almost 1 h of the voting process, the results where announced. We took 2nd place with the "Random Event" idea, according to the number of votes. The idea was pretty simple: we would create an App that would allow users through one simple click, to find something interesting and tempting for them to do, like: watch a movie from 1980s', prepare a special meal, go to a bar nearby, take a beer and meet someone new, etc. You would also be able to make your own suggestions that people could follow. Also we have found 3 more members: Dumitru and Dmitry (iOS and Android dev) and Carlos (marketing).

That evening the whole thing started. We tried to share our vision of the future app between ourselves, in terms of idea, design, concept and the overall architecture. Once we had sketches and the basic ideas settled we started to work. This was very interesting because basically we were 7 people that never worked together, I personally knew only Alina and I've met Alexei like once or twice in my life. It was a really interesting experience because all of us were doing our best to get to an App we envisioned and that got us so excited.

The real hard work started the next day, we worked together up until noon, but even after that, we went home and worked from our homes, some of us worked until 4 am, others until 6 am. I've slept around 3.5h which is pretty much acceptable (Eugen slept ~2h, because of the video making).

And on the 3rd day (last day) we had some prototypes ready. On my part, I had a Drupal instance fully setup (but not completely themed - a thing I didn't accomplish yet), with needed modules and content-types, taxonomies and the specifically customized Services - which allow 3rd party Apps to communicate with Drupal via a RESTful API. The design was done for both: phone app and web platform. Android and iOS prototypes were almost done and they looked really great. Everything was going smooth.

Meanwhile I've met lots of very interesting people: Ohad, Ross, Kav, etc. I liked their inputs regarding various things, their mentor tips were really useful.

And the final part was the presentation. Slides were done mostly by Alexei, video was done by Eugen and the Biz owners reviews were taken by me with Alina. There weren't many slides but we tried to stay consistent. I was really worried about the presentation because if I'd fail somehow, the whole team would suffer. Anyway, it turned out to be fine and we won, yeay! Everything was in slow motion when they were announcing the winner, honestly :D

It was a great team to work with, hopefully we will launch our beta soon: Push&Go!

It was a really good and interesting experience, fun and networking mixed with stress and hard work - everything a geek can dream of :)


Feel free to ask any question / or share any suggestion!