Startup Weekend

Last weekend I participated with a friend to a Startup Weekend event. The concept is to create a startup in a weekend. Startup is a big word here and the goal is really more to present an idea with a prototype and a possible (and coherent) business plan. If you can validate your market during the weekend, it’s an obvious bonus point.

It starts with 1 minute pitches on friday night followed by a voting session where only the top ideas are retained. Teams are then formed and work starts. On sunday evening, each team has 5 minutes to present the product, the market and the business model. A short Q&A follows.

Sylvain (aka @Copypastaa) picthed our idea on friday night but we couldn’t get enough votes. We found a third member anyway (@PierreMage) and were able to register our team.

Our idea (which was given to us by our friend David) is to change the way we send files to colleagues or friends. Imagine dragging a file to the side of your screen where a dock with the faces of your friends would appear. You’d simply have to drop the file onto one of them. We take care of the transfer whether your friend is online or not. People on the same network are automatically detected and the LAN is used when possible.

We named it Dropsend during the weekend but have now renamed it Dropdock.

We worked non stop over the weekend. I nearly coded for 18h hours straight on saturday which was exhausting. The work paid off and we had a working prototype on sunday evening. Sylvain also did an awesome work on the market validation, the business model as well as the presentation. We made the frontpage of Hacker News during the weekend.

The desktop app was coded using Python with PyQt, the server using Node.js and the web app (which we couldn’t show off) in HTML5.

We didn’t even have time to rehearse the final pitch and were the first to go! It went well and the demo received some cheering. Unfortunately the 5 minute buzzer stopped us before the end of the presentation.

You can find our presentation on Speaker Deck.

Anyway we won and it was a real surprise. We were a small team with a little idea and didn’t even pass the voting session. We were kind of the outsiders.

They were 13 other teams presenting and there was some really nice ideas and presentations. The second place went to TravelingDuck’s, a geolocated iPhone app to learn about historical places and the third place to Meet Advisor, a new kind of dating service as an iPhone app.

I met some really nice people and had a great time and a lot of fun. Thanks to all!

The great news is that we will continue to develop the product. We have no plan to create a company for the moment and we’ll do it on our free time but I really think we can make something great out of this idea.

The website will soon be online at http://getdropdock.com and you can follow us at @dropdock.



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03/04/2012