Well, Startup Weekend was a blast! Did we launch Mold Rush in time?
The weekend had very little structure to it which was really cool, though sometimes a bit confusing. We were free to start/join any groups we wished. At first, there were a lot more businesses forming but the initial discussions put some ideas in the waste bin. The challenge for most of us wasn`t thinking up ideas, rather finding something that could possibly be done in a single weekend.
Almost all of the businesses were web based because it`s easier to launch something quick, especially given that there were a lot of developers there. (Note: not only a fun weekend but a great way to meet developers if you need people for your biz.) And most of these businesses fit into the social networking category - Facebook, iPhone, web apps to help people keep in touch or have fun doing so.
I was drawn to the injection mold tracking group because the initial pitch to all the attendees was that it was the "least sexy idea of the weekend" which seemed challenging for someone like me who is so design-oriented. I wondered if I could make it sexy, give it a brand presence. I had to debate some of the others who saw the web application as a basic spreadsheet style interface. I don`t blame them because the world of manufacturing software (not that I`ve ever used any) is very cut-and-dry. But I came up with a fun name, Mold Rush, gave it a visual style, a creative tagline and wrote some lighthearted marketing copy for the home page. It really charged our team!
And many people in other businesses started watching our progress. While there were people of all age groups, much of the crowd was 20-30 something web developer guys. They were the ones populating the social networking businesses, and tracking injection molds made no connection with them at all. But when we had a logo, some mocked up page designs that were as slick as cool blog, we became cool. :)
Another thing that drew me to the Mold Rush team was that it addressed a real problem that our "CEO" experienced in the real world as a manufacturer. His solution seemed simple in theory and execution. It seemed possible in a weekend. So was it?
Yes and no. We didn`t actually launch the site by Sunday evening. We had all of our basic pages mocked up and built in the front end. And the majority of the databases were built in the back end. We ran out of time before we could begin bridging them and tweaking the details. So the site itself never made it.
But here is what else we did. We had figured out a working business structure. We had done market research on competition, figured out our advantages and so forth. (Injection mold manufacturing is a 10.9 billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone.) We planned a pricing structure to monetize our business through a subscription fee based on number of molds tracked. We thought through scalability and came up with a marketing plan. So it wasn`t just building a website. We were indeed building a business.
In fact, all but one company didn`t make it to launch. (Hitsurance
had a working prototype on Sunday night and it looks like they added some style since then.) One of the reasons for this is that for some dumb reason, the weekend was planned during Easter. Many people never came in on Sunday or they came in later in the afternoon. This is understandable for those who preferred to celebrate but it took its toll on productivity. Some of the business teams plan to continue their development.
But the first purpose of the weekend was not to really launch a business, rather to have fun and build a community. To most of us, it was an experiment in working with others in a new environment. People got to step out of their normal roles. One guy who was a developer told me he barely wanted to touch a computer and instead work with others to learn some business development skills. Heck, I jumped aboard the business that I knew the least about.
So what now of MoldRush.com
? Well, we all have day jobs and aren`t really planning on following through. Most of us have our own other startups in the works and two of our team are also working on MBAs. So Mold Rush takes a back burner and will hold a special place in our entrepreneurial hearts. At the time of this posting, we have a splash page up. I believe there is a plan with some of our developers to at least post the home page content to explain a bit more about it, so that may be up in a few days.
It was a great weekend and a lot of fun. I met some cool people and had a chance to do new things. I recommend Startup Weekend
if it`s coming to your city. You can even vote for your city on the site.
Have any questions about anything or any of the other businesses? Ask me!
CampSteve3/25/2008 9:10 AM