I attended Barcamp Brisbane today in East Brisbane. For those of you who don’t know what Barcamp is, it is “… an ad-hoc unconference born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees.”
The turnout was fairly good, roughly 40 people there in total. The topics of the speeches didn’t really appeal to me overly, but I found them interesting nonetheless. They ranged from, writing unit tested code, open ID and its benefits, web standards, user interface design/experience and a few other topics I missed. Overall, the speeches were presented well, some of the presenters were a bit nervous and the speeches a tad under-prepared, but I know that speaking in-front of people can be a very daunting task.
If one word could sum up the general theme of the day for me though, it would be ‘startup’. Most discussions after presentations and during lunch sounded very startupish. Being in a startup at the moment, I found this very interesting as there are a large number of other likeminded people out there who want a piece of the web2.0 pie. But it got me thinking, we have a room full of able techies with a massive wealth of knowledge all itching to get into startup mode, but no one to harness the opportunity that they could potentially bring from a technical perspective. Are all these people going to waste because they aren’t business minded and have a hard time thinking of ideas and bringing them to market?
The problem for the techies is that in order to succeed and become a part of a startup, they need someone to take care of the financials and the marketing. Being a programmer myself, I find it unbelievably boring having to deal with financials and marketing. I would just prefer to do what I do as it interests me the most. I know that most programmers feel the same way, but don’t have a means of finding the other 2 thirds of the equation for an effective startup. Where do techies find the other 2/3?
It occurred to me that the ideal meeting for techies would be to place them in a room full of business people who have awesome ideas, but don’t know any techies to help get the idea off the ground (and believe me, there are a lot of people with really great ideas in this boat). So why not run an event where we combine, for example, the Youth Symposium of Brisbane and BarCamp Brisbane together. This way we are putting the people with the technical knowhow alongside people with great ideas. It would provide a great networking opportunity, and potentially a lot of jobs for people wanting to be in a startup.
As for the event itself, I would in-visage the first hour being a mingle of all people, followed by a few seminars targeted at different aspects of running a startup, including financials, marketing, development and bringing the product to market. The techies could learn about the ideal way of developing for a startup (ie, Agile/waterfall/XP), and the business people would learn about what running a start up is all about. For example, what are the pitfalls of running a startup? How do you secure funding during the later stages of the product development? What are the legal issues surrounding IP? And many more questions a lot of startups face during the initial phases of setup.
I’m sure an idea like this already exists in the world somewhere, maybe even in Australia. If it doesn’t then why not?