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Startup Life and Purposeful Hackdays

I’ve been collecting a number of articles in relation to startups, as I’m pretty interested in the type of work. As a all-rounder designer (perhaps as a result of being educated and working in a country with a small population), startups could be a good fit (unlike some bigger companies where being good at a number of things can be problematic).

Lisa Williams’ four questions (as a VC) to test startups, and Fast Company’s 6 Startup Lessons from Founders are interesting in their parallels:

  1. Start with side projects/something that you’d happily work on for free forever (startups involve some time at the beginning working for free)
  2. Create opportunities/be wary of technical hindrances
  3. People are important (be it you partner with other people that help you, or don’t take on projects that will screw up your existing personal relationships)
  4. “Everything About Something”/Owning a niche ecosystem (this is what makes an Amazon or Yelp)

A recent Guardian article about London’s Silicon Roundabout shows the different ways that people can get involved (it’s true the a good attitude can sometimes—though not always—be more useful than outright experience), though it also drew particular ire from the (admittedly pretty opinionated) CiF audience about the size of the community or even the value of IT!

Finally, as someone who has been involved in hackdays (and advocates that designers get involved), I’ve seen how there can be a difficult gap between the cool product you make and actually doing something with it. (I was part of a team that won a hackday, but none of us had the bandwidth to take the project past its concept stage). In this light, “Saving the Hackathon” is an interesting commentary on the need for hackathons to become more purpose driven (and to give a lot more solid information about details!) As an aside, I particularly like that as it’s based in fashion that the ‘un-nerdy’ women running the hackday were actually pretty knowledgeable about what would and wouldn’t work as a viable product. But that’s a story for another post.