Developers have been asking me about what Microsoft BizSpark will do to get more developers and startup people together around the world. Well, it turns out our partners at Startup Weekend have more than we had bargained for. I didn't know what it was, but I kept seeing this awesome graphic about the Global Startup Battle floating around Facebook.
So, I asked John Beadle, the SF Bay Area Leader for Startup Weekend to give you all some more insight, and this is the main gist, for those of you who might be experiencing it for the first time. This thing truly is global, so everyone who has been asking me about when we are going to have more coding, developer, and founder-- meeting events you can do in places other than New York, Seattle, or San Francisco, your wait is over.
The Global Startup Battle consists of more than 120 startup weekends (occurring at the same time) all over the world during the two weekends before and after GEW. The winners then submit 90 sec videos to compete for the global championship to win a slew of prizes (shown on the site).
Says John, "If you want to follow all the news, check out #gsb2012 on Twitter or the videos (soon to come) at Global Startup Battle Facebook Page." Also, if you come to this blog a lot but are still wondering how you can use BizSpark, here is a great info-heavy blog post written by Bruno Terkaly, one of the Windows Azure technical evangelists in San Francisco.
What's in it for developers? Well, prizes, yes. But there's more. I asked Beadle a couple of questions.
Douglas: Why do you think people are drawn to Startup Weekend? It seems such a fast, and intense weekend. What do they get out of it?
Beadle: I think a lot of people will agree that entrepreneurship is skill that can only be learned through experience, repetition, and perseverance . Although Startup Weekend is set in a somewhat controlled environment, we aim to create an action oriented, learn-by-doing type of event. It's definitely intense, but I'm always blown away by how much I learn. Every time I attend I am surrounded by smart, passionate people who want to change the world. It's very addicting.
That made me think with my out of left field brain. So, I asked another:
Douglas: Do you think Startup Weekends would be an enticing addition to a school curriculum? And if so, what do you think Startup Weekend teaches developers?
Beadle: Startup Weekend would be a fantastic addition to school curriculum. Just like science and math, entrepreneurial skills can be very useful in other fields. Among other things Startup Weekend is a great way for people to practice public speaking, pitching, customer development, and work with a team. If you are interested in becoming an entrepreneur, Startup Weekend is a fantastic place to test the waters. It is one of the quickest ways to test an idea, and determine whether a business is viable. One weekend is such a small price to pay, to gain the experience, connections, and mentorship offered at these events.
Developers are turned off by the event because it appears non-technical. The problem is that Startup Weekend is sometimes mislabeled as a hackathon. Hackathons are designed to build technical and impressive projects to showcase a developers skills but do not consider the business side. Hackathons have there place, and are great for practice, but what's the point of developing something really cool if no one is going to use it? I understand that there is an art to coding, but if you're truly serious about becoming a successful developer you need to learn how the business side operates (just like how non-techs need to understand a little bit of coding). That is why Startup Weekend is so valuable - it creates a situation in which developers, designers and business people alike learn how to interact and function as a team.