My Startup Weekend Experience (Part 2)
Sunday AM and afternoon:
I was back to coding at the Microsoft office at around 10am. I looked at our domain and checked to see if it resolves to GAE. Nope, still parked at GoDaddy. I scoured the internets and it seems like most have difficulty getting domains resolve. I was not too confident that the hubb.me domain would work by the time on the demo. I told the rest of the team that there is a possibility that we would use swsf.appspot.com (GAE domain) instead of hubb.me. Fortunately, Alex had some time on his hands and were able to figure it out. Still, we were crossing our fingers that the new nameservers would propagate in time.
As demo time nears, I felt like we won’t all the functionalities that we all intended to have. We had to make some choices and drop some features. I was very confident that all the main functionalities will finish on time. However, the bells and whistles probably won’t. I told the team that we’ll drop all the fancy AJAX and UI stuff and they agreed.
I then proceeded to do our first deployment. This is my favorite feature of GAE. One command line and your code is off to Production. Painless. I had to do some tweaking for our Facebook Connect (FBC) feature though. FBC will only work for a specific domain so I had to set up 2 apps in Facebook: HubbMe (Dev) and HubbMe (Prod). I created a function that would return the Production APIKey and APISecret when it is deployed and use the Dev keys when testing locally.
One difficulty we had with GAE though was test data. Alex, Vaughn, and I separated the development tasks by functionality. Alex was in-charged with the IFrame that displays the links, Vaughn with the Dashboard to see the links you createds, and I was tasked with the add and edit links functionalities. I was fine to go ahead with development. Alex and Vaughh, however, needed some test data for their pages. GAE uses its own database called Big Table which was not easily exportable. My solution was to create a page that generates test data so they can test their code.
I made a number of deployments in the afternoon. I attempted to add more features. However, I ended up breaking the app. I didn’t want people to see errors during the demo so I decided to stop making major changes on it. Left it stable although I was still making minor tweaks.
I alos checked the domain. It was finally working. Nice!
About 30 minutes before the demo, the team met up to figure out our presentation. There were some brainstorming on what to include in the demo. We decided to cut down the number of slides and show the app more.
There were about 5 teams before us. The most notable was the Big Ponzi but they didn’t have a demo available. Then, it was our turn. Anish, Matt, and Vaughn took turns presenting the app and it was over in less than 5 minutes. The app worked app. No errors.
There were 10+ teams after us. My favorite demo of the night was from the Img.gr which allows you to tag photos on Twitter. They still don’t have a public site and I’m hoping they would push through with the app.
Dave McClure was not present on demo night. However, throughout the demos, he was consistenly tweeting about the apps (@davemcclure) which was definitely appreciated by everybody.
After the demos, we all headed to Jillians in SoMa and mingled with the other attendees.
I was glad I did Startup Weekend. In my final tweet/Facebook Status for the weekend, I said that it was the most satisfying geek experience of my life. I feel lucky with the team I ended up with. I was able to sit back and just concentrate on coding. I was able to trust that no one would make unilateral decisions to the detriment of the team. More importantly, we were able to deliver a working app – my main goal in this event. I’m looking forward to working with them in the near future.
This event has validated even more my decision to move to the Bay Area. People are driven, ambitious, and trying to come up with the next big thing.
Special thanks to Andrew Hyde and Tyler Willis for organizing the event. I can’t wait for the next one. However, I will approach the next one differently. I will be pitching an idea and recruit people for my team.
Here are some pictures of our team as well as video of the demo:
Our demo started on the 28th minute.