Monday, September 24, 2007

NYC and Hamburg are over

Well NYC and Hamburg are done.

Hamburg launch a beta and NYC did not.

I think the difference was the process they used... Hamburg organized in their own way and NYC followed the Startup Weekend Bill of Rights. I don't know that was the the killer for NYC as Facebook apps are hard to write -- NYC would have been hampered by that fact, but I can't help but wonder if all that pre-weekend organization actually helped Hamburg. Only a few more run under Andrew's Bill of Rights will tell the tail.

For those that read German, or for those that are willing to run the site through a translator, it's well worth reading about how they organized. They did a much better job of organizing than we did in Toronto and I have high hopes for Birmingham as well, because they are also well organized.

One other thing I would love to hear more about was NYC's attendance and energy. The videos shot there on the second day looked very subdued and there looked to be only about 20 people actually in the building and working. Thats a bit more attrition than we experienced -- if thats the case it may be that attrition is inevitable regardless of the format of the weekend. Attrition is something most people complaining about Toronto have pointed to as evidence of failure (most people who attended don't think we failed at all). I guess that's one more thing we'll have to wait on more weekends for, to get any sort of answer.

Also, I'm planning to write up a summary of our weekend in Toronto. We had intended to do it as a group but it's been very hard to get people communicating at all. So, I'll write it up from my perspective so that other weekend cities can see what we did and my opinion on what worked and what didn't. How soon I can't tell you but I'd like to get it out there right now... it all depends on how much time I have (which is not much now that LobbyThem is preparing to launch the first release).

I must say, I'm becoming a startup junky... I love this stuff!
It's a freaky-geeky sport!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Changes to Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend NYC is currently underway and Andrew is attending. It's clear watching a short introduction video that he has shifted his attitude and is now making it clear to everyone that he is starting a company... something he did not make clear to us (we didn't hear about it at all until this rebuttal site went up).

You can hear it in just about everything he says. I think it's clear that calling us crooks was unfounded now, simply by watching what he himself is doing.

We set it up, we ran it, and he wasn't happy... only after the fact did we find out he expected to run the show.

I notice a few other thing that are subtly hinted at as I read around... he's beginning to use some of the techniques that we developed for our weekend. I don't blame him, he's inexperienced as a manager and we had some long time veterans, so it's no wonder we actually came up with some good stuff.

I'm glad he's changing his plan of attack because:
  1. I think it will make him more successful (and I wish that of anyone trying to start something new).
  2. Because it'll be clearer to other cities running a Startup Weekend what the deal really is. If they know before they run it, maybe they won't get called crooks.
I still have not seen anything in the way of apology or retraction or even a correction from him. Maybe he feels that can't because it would mean he admits being wrong about the way he attacked us or maybe he is worried about his image among his peers. He could be very busy with SWNYC ... or maybe I missed the reason all together.

The idea NYC is working on is a combination of one of Steve Poland's ideas and one of mine and I'm flattered that he found something interesting to include (Steve participated in the Toronto weekend).
Even though I don't mind the borrowing of my own ideas (or parts of them), it brings to light an IP issue Andrew may have to resolve because everything is running under his company name and there may be legal issues that need addressing.
Who owns an issue brought out at a weekend event and who has rights to it after the fact? If an idea is presented in one city and a visitor to that city then takes it to another city and gets selected, does that person have to share the rights? The whole thing can get very complex very quickly.
People seem to think that ideas are a dime a dozen, however the law makers of the entire world don't agree which is why we have IP laws in the first place (ridiculous laws or not, they can still do damage).

In Toronto, we used a simple model. The selected idea was rewarded with a few extra shares and the forming company is assigned the rights to it if and when they incorporate. All other ideas remain the property of their submitters. If a selected idea is modified significantly by another attendee then they share the rights to it. It may actually be too simplistic an approach, but it was all we had time to come up with.

Oh, one more thing. I was "informed" that the name "Startup Weekend" is his trademark. Fair enough... but it means I have to change the name of this blog. I wouldn't want the Grand Cooperative Experiment Corporation to sue me after all.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dishonest Organizers... What?

I am one of those so called "dishonest organizers" from Toronto that Andrew Hyde is talking about on his blog .

I resent being called a "Dishonest Organizer" and I refute the claim. I would like to invite anyone (including Andrew) to ask about why we did things the way we did.

In the first few hours it was obvious that he expected to play a large part in leading the weekend, but we didn't let that happen. It was clear he was not pleased, but I'm ashamed of his petty attitude particularly after coming up with such a great idea in the first place. His next move will be to clamp down so that other cities won't be able to extend what he calls an "experiment" in their own way. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if Startup Weekend becomes a corporation in it's own right. Toronto is a threat to that, so he pretty much has to take action. NY will escape and so will Hamburg but the rest of you may have to deal with it.

So, what did Andrew Hyde do at Startup Weekend Toronto?
He showed up for at least several hours each day and did absolutely nothing to help or participate at all. Andrew will get his shares never the less because all who were there, even for a few hours will get them as well... no matter how much work they actually did.
We had three other guests from the US that did help; Erica O'Grady did pitch in quite a bit and was actually a catalyst in getting the creative going. Steve Poland also contributed some valuable effort to the features of the initial product. I'm not sure what Joe Scharf was working on, but he at least was interesting and pleasant to talk to instead of sitting in the corner sulking.

A couple of facts:
  • We did actually launch our beta. It's up right now if you want to go and play with it.
  • We had more people stick around in the end to actually make it happen (could it be that it wasn't as bad as Andrew says?)
  • We're more than likely to have a viable company come out of the weekend, which will generate capital for everyone involved, including Andrew.

This will be my personal attempt to rectify a rather poisonous attitude from someone whom I expected better of.
This is in no way an official site representing any of the people who participated or the sponsors of Startup Weekend Toronto. Hopefully a more official analysis will be coming out soon from the entire Toronto group

So please, ask questions and I'll be happy to answer them as best I can.