Unleash The Beast After Thoughts


Last night I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel about Hackathons. I wanted to write a little follow up about some thoughts I was not able to express and clear up a few things that I talked about.

First let's talk about what a hackathon is. To me, a hackathon is a platform for developers, designers, and biz devs to work together to build something. I feel hackathons are for the doers and the makers. The people that are willing work and learn.

I feel that there might be a misunderstanding of what a hackathon is. I heard people last night talking about the need for a lawyer, accountants, marketer, PR, angles, VCs, and a few other buzz words. I am not saying that these roles are not important, but maybe not need at this stage in the development process.

Developers are a lot smarter than you think

It seems that a lot of people think that developers can't do anything else besides write code. This notion is crazy. When I first moved to New York City I had the great opportunity to meet Doug Petkanics, one of the best developers I know. In the beginning, he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes of the city. He introduced me to a lot of people and even tried to teach me Ruby on Rails and git. He was a one-man-show at the time, developing and designing several personal projects. Not only was he an awesome developer, but he was a great speaker, communicator, storyteller, amazing at pitching his ideas, had relations with the press, knew how to market his ideas, and how to talk to investors. He was a huge inspiration and more importantly taught me to always be learning. Doug is just one of the many very multi-talented developers I know.

Ideas are shit

Yes, I will say it again, your idea is shit. If you want to execute on your idea, then build it. Don't come to a hackathon and expect others to build your idea for you. You are doing it wrong. If you come willing to learn how to build it yourself that is fine. Listen we have been there, yes at some point we were just like you. We had the willingness to learn and that is all we needed. I often take non-developers and non-designer under my wing and educate them as much as I can. You're not going to be an amazing developer in such a short time and that is ok, there will always be more opportunities to learn.

Show up to learn

I met David Kay on the 2011 StatupBus when we worked on Lemonade Stand together. David Kay is the best developer I know. He is also one of the smartest people I know. He is the guy that is so talented that it makes you sick. After the StartupBus we attended many hackathons together as a team. I can honestly say that he devoted half of any hackathon teaching me how to be a developer. He taught me a little bit of everything, git, Ruby On Rails, JavaScript, PHP, Python, how to build Android apps, how to build iPhone apps, talking to investors, how to pitch, and a bunch of life lessons. I believe that David is a great educator and he saw that I was willing to learn pretty much anything. Just want to put this disclaimer that I am not a developer, not even a good half ass one. I suck at that shit, is it not easy. It takes years of dedication to become a great developer, but a hackathon is great place to get your feet wet.

I show up to hackathons to learn, network, and launch ideas. If you want to go to a hackathon and have never been I would be more then happy to get you started. You are more than welcome to join any team I am a part of. I generally only like to teach one person at a time. If my team is full, I can introduce you to other people that I am sure would be more than happy to have you. The only requirement that I have is that you show up to learn and contribute to the overall success of the project.