martes, noviembre 24, 2009

iWeekend or how an idea borns and matures

Last weekend I had the chance to participate in the iWeekend event, which is an event for entrepreneurs. The idea is simple: suggest an idea to the rest of participants (ca. 50 people), gather enough resources and implement it in two days.

In my case I was proposing the Semantic Event Bot (SEB): an internet bot that finds events that are scattered in the web, avoiding the hassle of having to look in thousands of web pages that may contain an event that interests you. Since I realized that SEB could be difficult to implement in only two days, I decided to join my colleague, that was presenting the citizen notification system for city halls (an idea that was later called: Vox Populi, It turned to be a wise decision.

What it was fascinating to me was how the energy of a group of people can be focused to pursue an idea. Even more amazing was to see how the forming-storming-norming-performing phases of the group development were done in only two days! that was certainly insanely fast!
  • Forming: This happened during the early morning of Saturday, we had to gather enough resources to carry out the idea. Finally, we were 15 people with very different backgrounds working on the same idea: from web designers to marketing and biz developers. This aspect was crucial in order to have a more robust idea: an idea can be well developed in the IT sense, but if the business aspect is not done, it will most certainly fail.
  • Storming: Early hours of Saturday's afternoon. Every member of the group had his/her own vision of the core idea so it was crucial to coordinate all these people. In this sense it was fundamental to let people de-focus a bit so that new sub-ideas come. Once this happen, the coordinator has to know when to re-focus the people again so that these new ideas can materialize and complement the core idea. This, as usual, is the critical part of the group development, and people may get frustrated or disappointed...To what I saw this was, luckily, not the case.
  • Norming: After the storm, the alignment of energies is defined. This phase took place in Saturday evening. After this norming, all of us knew exactly which were our tasks and which was the time we had to execute them.
  • Performing: This was the last phase, which took place during Sunday. All of us were working at full throttle and in parallel in order to materialize the idea. It was almost magic to see how all subgroups worked as an articulated entity that pursues a single objective. We had a clear deadline: Sunday 19h, when we were supposed to show in a presentation what we did during the weekend. Marketing people were designing the campaign to sell the product (see the video below), web designers were coding the skeleton of the application (follow the link of Vox-populi, and business developers were gathering information and burning spreadsheets to make the project profitable.
Summarizing, this experience showed me one thing: the Idea is important, but it is even more important to criticize it from different angles (so it becomes stronger) and to implement it. But above all, it was certainly a great experience to share this time with the rest of participants! I will certainly look forward to working with them again! Well done guys!

The people of the Vox Populi "Marketing department" did a great job with this promotional video!

Here is a video of the Vox Populi participants (yes, the one with the white shirt speaking at the beginning is me!). Sorry for the video, is in Spanish :(

Also, you have below a video of the "Making of" Vox Populi. Enjoy!

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