Monday, July 9, 2012

Startup Weekend Amsterdam - The 5Live Crew

Had a fantastic time at Startup Weekend Amsterdam this weekend. Big up to the organisers :)

It was hard work and I think it will take a while for my girlfriend to forgive me (I found out about it and signed up Thursday with much too little discussion) but I'm so glad I did it.

It kicked of at 6pm Friday with 66 pitches! Some good, some bad, some completely indecipherable but all of them given and received in great spirit, in 60 seconds or under (with change overs I guess it would have been at least 2 hours of pitches, phew).

There was a shameless pitch to clone Kickstarter in Europe (did you know Europeans couldn't raise funds on Kickstarter?)... This actually got one of my votes.

There were a lot of pitches to provide match up services for sports enthusiasts, I counted at least 4. These were interesting to me as I know a French guy (hey, Alex, if you're reading!) who's had some success with this in Canada for ice hockey. Check out Hockey Community! Like I say interesting but i din't vote for any of them as I didn't want to encourage competition for my friend (who I think should branch out to other sports ;))

A cool sounding app called OhHeyWorld got my second vote. With one click it lets you notify friends and family when you arrive at a destination by checking in by email, facebook, twitter, etc all at once. I really liked this but it didn't get so many other votes so happily the guy pitching it ended up on our team :)

My final vote though went to a Googler who wanted to build an app on top of Google Hangouts to match coaches, music teachers, etc to people online for live lessons via video. 2 things peaked my interest. I've had this conversation before, particularly with musicians. And second it would be nice to learn something about integrating with Google Hangouts.

I didn't pitch any of my own ideas, although I kinda wish I had. Next time I will... and there will be a next time :)

So with all voting completed the pitches were narrowed down to 20. By which time the Google Hangout idea had merged with another to provide business mentoring over video conferencing, inspired by Quora (of which I'm largely unaware, but have just signed up). This is what I ended up working on with 7 other cool guys. We were 5 business guys, 2 developers and 1 designer (I think). Heavy on the business side and it showed after the first day. I'm not sure how many visions there were or how many times we pivoted (being 1 of the 2 techies I was pretty much head down coding the whole time - hoping that it was in the right direction) but at the end of the night on Saturday the cracks were starting to show. It was time for rest.

The next morning, although we were down one business guy who I think was unimpressed by the lack of focus and constant direction changing, there was definitely more commitment to get things done and to try and ship, after all we only had till 4pm.

We seemed to have a single vision now and we set about building it up and applying copy, etc. We needed a presentation and we needed some kind of validation. To be honest we already had some validation. All the pivoting the day before had come from surveying conference participants and collecting feedback. Ok, we didn't get out of the building physically but we did sell the expertise of one of our team members something like 7 times for $5 (Now he has to do some video conferences with the people who stumped up the cash). This wasn't even with conference folks, these were real people on the interwebs. We sold him through fiverr at an admittedly knock down price for his real estate know how and you may say that we only validated that people will buy gold if we sell for the price of coal. I disagree though, we validated that people are willing to pay for live interactive video sessions in which they can learn something... and they actually paid, not just promise to pay or expressed an interest.

This was our eventual proposition (I almost typed final but there may be more pivots to come) and 5Live was born. We will provide a market place to match up those with skills/knowledge to those who want to have those skills/knowledge. Sessions can be scheduled by the skilled for free and spots can be reserved by the young padowans for 5 euros/dollars or less. Then at the designated time each will click on some button and enter into a live interactive video conference through which knowledge will be imparted. The subsequent revenues will then be distributed back to the skilled.

I see it as a place where everyone is equal and sharing their wisdom with each other. Perhaps in the evening instead of watching TV. I see it as a natural progression from broadcast TV through social video like YouTube to the next wave of social knowledge sharing where you can ask your questions live. It's Etsy meets YouTube meets fiverr meets Quora (if I understand Quora correctly). This vision may not be the same as the other founders and may change once it's tested (will change!) but right now it looks like it has legs.

So at the end of the weekend what did we have?

Third place!! Yay :)

We were pushed out by a very worthy non-profit, charity/donation app called Easygiving who took first place for allowing people to easily manage and adjust monthly charity plans and donation distribution. And a service for helping you transfer your apps between mobile phone platforms when you switch to Android and can't find that app you loved so much on your iPhone (or vice versa) called Aloha. Kudos to them :)

But we still believe in our thing! And to prove it here are the slides, a video and a link so you can see more (if the link is dead then it probably means we changed the name and hit the big time - you should have been here last week ;))

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the writeup, Pete!

    I expect your girl will forgive you when she sees the new energy and enthusiasm you find from events like this - it will be visible in both work and real life. (although eventually you will need to establish a work-life-hacking balance for her)
    (This is Matt. Not sure why it's got me as Unknown)