Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Startup Weekend

Through Scott Rosenburg I found Startup Weekend - an attempt to start a company, figure out what to build and build it in one weekend.

Guess what - they failed.

Here's what I found so disturbing about this project - it wasn't about building a quality product for the end user. It's about creating something as fast as humanely possible and "selling" it. And guess who lives with the end result if successful....the suckers who were dumb enough to buy the product.

I've discovered that there is a cowboy mentality in technology. The drive to build stuff faster and "better." "Better," in this scenario, may mean cleaner code, a cool new (though not necessarily useful) widget, a neat-looking (though not necessarily user-friendly) interface. It may not (and usually doesn't) mean a product that is bug-free and end-user friendly. It also does not include any consideration of the long term support of the application, widget, or what have you. The focus is on the launch.

What vendors forget is that real people have to live with the design decisions they make and the bugs in the system long after your "launch". Real people have to answer to angry, frustrated users. And these people are your CLIENTS.

What I found interesting is that they questioned whether 70 people should be involved (rather than 5).

I suspect this is the ignorant non-programmer talking, but what they should have questioned is whether creating a major program to sell to lots of people over a weekend with no idea what they were building in the first place was a good idea to begin with.

Yes I am aware that lots of good programs are built by a skilled, dedicated computer programer over a weekend. But they worry about monetizing the thing after the fact and after it goes through some testing of some sort (through their own use, through putting it out on developer boards for people to play with, etc). And that programmer generally goes in with an idea of what they want to accomplish (at least, all of the programmers I know do).

Only then do they worry about logos and t-shirts.

I pray that Startup Weekend does not become a trend.....

1 comment:

Janet clarey said...

Well, as long as you don't cowgirl-up it shouldn't become a trend. Classic story. Thanks for telling it like it is.