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Why the hackathon risks unsettling the entire start up industry

A hackathon in action

‘This weekend, I am participating in a hackathon.’ I felt so Shoreditch sexy as I said this to my colleagues last Friday afternoon.

48 hours later my life had changed. An outrageously ambitious agency based in Gliwice, Poland, set up the hackathon. Thanks to Skype, I was the international owl that had volunteered to check in and see if I could lend a grey hair or two.

Let me press fast forward. The team started and completed several projects. One in particular made my heart beat, literally. The tutorial for the product (an app) instructs to get two sheets of paper, roll them, tie a band around one end on both and there you have it – paper drumsticks. They had built a product that I had named ‘DRUM air’. A drum pad that you can play on the thin-air in front of your laptop. Wow wee is this cool. It is based on the new Leap Motion product that I have now ordered and you should too.

Not only is the application brilliant - the future of motion control is confirmed - but much more importantly my life has changed. The modern day hackathon risks unsettling the entire start up industry. Angels, seed funds, business plans, prototypes, tax relief, culture books and meet ups are all potentially past their sell by date. All that matters is a time box, human energy, the idea and best use of available communication channels, platforms and devices.

I managed to get both my children in on the hack, my three year old daughter joined me on a couple of the calls and my seven year old son had designed his own app called ‘Greedy Ladder’ by Sunday night. I think he wants me build it for him over the next few days. How do I tell him that I am really just an accountant and not a java ninja? Further, even if we were to do it, over here we need 31 days of user research, 23 days of wire frame sketching, an away day, ten stand-ups and a month of A/B testing...

So, hats off to Blazej - he even has a rock star name - and the team at Jazzy. I hope the airspace store (remember where you heard that first) approve DRUM air soon. This is exactly how it should be done, how things should be made.

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