More Than Smoke and Mirrors

From Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, I competed in the PetHacks hackathon. The task was to make a minimum viable product for a start-up that will recommend the best food for your dog based on its breed, age, weight, etc. The prize was $10,000 and 50,000 shares of stock.

I guess you could call this a post-mortem, but I’m at peace with how everything fell out. I talked our team into trying a trendy new javascript framework, but 6pm on Saturday found us starting from scratch with tools we knew. This decision left us with little time to put together a final product, and whenever we faced a choice between doing things right and doing things fast we always chose the latter.

During the presentations we saw that, despite one team’s claims to have made a ‘Platform’ rather than a mere web app, everyone had made approximately the same thing. The styling was different, but all the apps seemed to be held together with duct tape and chewing gum.

It seems to me that this is not a very efficient way to make a minimum viable product. For the same cost to the entrepreneur, we could have spent more time on our project and created something lasting and complete rather than ephemeral and rough.

It was still fun to stretch to learn a new technology, and even though it was stressful, I generally had good experience this weekend. But I guess this is my way of saying, “Hire me to make your minimum viable product”. It will be more than smoke and mirrors.