A couple months ago, I detailed the how-to and the why-for of Automated Insights’ First Annual Hackathon.
Pros: A handful of new services and upgrades that rolled straight into production; A queue of creative new ideas to work on.
Cons: The smell of the room on day 2; I didn’t win.
As I stated in that article, the concept of the company Hackathon is not new, nor is tweaking said concept to produce a greater result. Startup Weekend is essentially a Hackathon gone a little more mainstream, with non-techies inserted into the mix and winners that go on to become viable companies instead of, I don’t know, faster rake tasks.
But now, local startups Adzerk and Shoeboxed are teaming up with American Underground and the Durham Chamber (nice to see them working together after Adam Klein moved form the latter to the former), to stage Epic Hack Day, a single-day hack session open to all techies to produce… whatever they freaking feel like.
It takes place in the American Underground on Saturday, September 8th from 10 a.m. until the last coder leaves — and they’ll keep it open late into the next morning. They’ll provide coffee, bagels, pizza, snacks, and the key ingredient, beer from FullSteam. The EventBrite is here.
The event is being organized by Adzerk founder James Avery, who has been a cornerstone in the Durham Startup Ecosystem building process from the entrepreneur side. ExitEvent Startup Social? Avery is there. Startup Job Fair? Avery lent me space at his table. ESeries entrepreneur panel? Guess who was the most dressed down founder?
I’m a big fan of the concept — get the right people in the room (coders), throw the rules out, set the right environment, and let the participants come up with the goals and how to get there.
Sounds a lot like another startup-related event I’m familiar with, only much more useful.
Think of Epic Hack Day as a Startup Weekend but without any of the structure or the underlying pressure to create a company. I know. Madness, right? Where are the prizes? Where are the metrics? Where is the next Twitter clone?
Yeah, well, anyone who doesn’t see the beauty and simplicity of targeting the combined brainpower of 100 coders and designers for 12 hours of work on whatever they find fun and interesting is missing the point.
“The last time there was a (Triangle) startup weekend I realized that I really wanted to go and hang out with people and work on something,” Avery says. “But because I have ‘startup weekday’ I didn’t want to deal with creating a company, business model, etc. I just wanted to write some code and have fun.”
So, you know, I won’t be there. Correction: I might be there, but only to bum free beer and come up with new jokes. As devastating as my idea skills might be (and whose aren’t?), it takes me so long to code that I measure my output in milliweeks.
See, I definitely need new jokes.
The point is, this is not an idea-party, it’s an execution party, and those are the best (and rarest) of startup-related parties. So before anyone makes a hackathon-fatigue quip, note that this one is unique. When I started ExitEvent, there were over a dozen free-beer startup-related events in the Triangle.
And just like any startup, the ones that last are the ones that provide the most value.