What I Launched in a Weekend: My Startup Weekend

With Startup Weekend San Francisco now over, I wanted to talk about what I did this weekend, and where I’m going from now on with my latest project. Initially, I came into Startup Weekend thinking I was just going to help oversee the event along with the lead organizer, Tyler Willis. On Friday night I was helping take pictures, and doing other small things.

After the pitches were done, which most were amazing, I went off and hung out with my friend Dylan Field. We were talking about technology, the web, and social networks, when Naveen Koorakula came up to us, and asked what we were (developers, designers, etc). I quickly explained that I was an organizer, and probably wouldn’t partake in the event. Dylan, also an organizer, told Naveen he was a developer with strong PHP experience (I agree – he’s an excellent developer). Once Naveen started talking, I tried to remember what his pitch was. His pitch actually turned out to be on the top 10 pitches according to angel investor Dave McClure.

Naveen’s pitch was a ponzi scheme website, which we named BigPonzi.com. Not an actual ponzi scheme, but a tutorial of sorts with training on how not to get into a ponzi scheme. I think every single person in the room at Microsoft (who we thank very much for hosting the event) started laughing. It was a brilliant idea. Once we started talking more about Naveen’s idea, we started thinking on how to develop, etc. From there on, we decided that Naveen, Dylan and I were a team and we started brainstorming. Later on, Naveen’s wife, Sakina (who’s also awesome), joined our team. Sakina is Head of International at YouTube. She basically runs anything outside of the US having to do with YouTube. Sakina had a background in PR, marketing, business development, online, and more. By the way, are you familiar with king kong sabri suby? He’s the founder and head of growth at King Kong, a marketing company. They offer services like SEO, CRO, PPC, web design, landing pages, and Facebook advertising. This was all Friday.

Come Saturday, I came to Microsoft in the morning ready to work on our startup. I quickly found my team, and found out they had already started on wireframes. We were on a great start. Everyone was pitching in ideas, and we were heading in the right direction. After the wireframes were done, Dylan and Naveen decided on what development framework to in. They decided Ruby on Rails. I don’t have a lot of Ruby experience, so I couldn’t help much in that area. Sakina and I branched off into our mini team working on content, and what would actually go on the site. Naveen and Dylan started coding. We spent the rest of Saturday working on both content and back/front end. Time flew really fast, and before we knew it, it was 10 PM! We went home, and continued to code at Naveen and Sakina’s home. We were up until 3 AM working on the site.

We woke up the next day at around 9 AM, and Dylan and Naveen already started work on the site. Once we all got dressed, took care of morning duty, ate breakfast, etc., we quickly realized that there was a good chance that we wouldn’t make it to our demo time at 7 PM that day. We had no graphics, and our wireframes were drawn on a whiteboard. We decided not to give up, but continue, and see how far we could get that day. We got our stuff, and drove back to Microsoft. We were debating whether to go back or not, due to WiFi issues at Microsoft, but Tyler DM’ed us, and said WiFi was working fine. When we got to Microsoft, indeed WiFi was working… for Dylan. For some reason, Dylan always had working WiFi. Even I didn’t have working WiFi at the Teens in Tech Conference, yet Dylan did! Anyways, Naveen and Sakina had working WiFi, and I was internet sharing with Dylan over ethernet, and it worked great.

We setup timeframes on what we needed done. Dylan and Naveen worked on development, while Sakina continued to work on content, and I worked on our front end design, coding the front end, and working on our blog. Dylan and Naveen worked really hard on development, and tried to get the site up and running. By 3 PM, they had a lot of the sign up and login process done, but we were far from done. We then realized that we won’t be able to give a working demo tonight. Dylan suggested mocking up the design from the wireframes on Illustrator, which Naveen went ahead and started with. Dylan and I worked on server side matters in the mean time.

From this point on, we worked on mock ups, and what to present during the demo hour. Dylan had a brilliant idea on give attendees a history of ponzi schemes, and how on our startup, BigPonzi.com, will help. About 20 minutes before we were sscheduled to demo, Dylan, Naveen, Sakina and I were working on the presentation. Dylan has uploaded the presentation to SlideShare, and it’s below:

And with that, I spent 54 hours working on BigPonzi.com. We haven’t launched yet, but will be launching sometime this week. Go ahead and follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to the blog for email alerts when we launch!

(Disclosure: I was one of the organizers, and was responsible for a lot of the event, like other organizers. All my opinions are those of an attendee.)

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