Internet Company Be Built in a Weekend?

Startup Weekend: Can an Internet Company Be Built in a Weekend?

Posted on November 6th, 2007
By Erin Teeling

Startup Weekend
is a project founded by Andrew Hyde, who came up with the idea to
connect a "highly motivated group of small business entrepreneurs to
build a community and company in a weekend."  Basically, Startup
Weekend groups together web developers, designers, marketers, and
entrepreneurs for a weekend to see what kind of Internet company they
can come up with.  Groups have a weekend to complete their project from
start to finish, which includes deciding on a concept and launching the
actual project. 

From the various Startup Weekends that have been held throughout the
country recently, it seems that the answer to my initial question, "Can
an Internet Company be Built in a Weekend?", the answer is yes.  Most Some of the Startup Weekends have resulted in the launching of a website.  The more important question might be, "Can a viable business be built in a weekend?", to which the answer, judging from the sites launched by Startup Weekend, is probably no.

Here’s a list of some of Startup Weekend’s results:

VoSnap -Boulder team
Favoreats -NYC team
TipDish -Houston team
ScrollTalk -West Lafayette team
DeskHappy -Boston Team
Hola Neighbor -DC team
WorkPerch -Chapel Hill team 

These websites range from confusing without a clear purpose (TipDish
and ScrollTalk) to founded on good ideas, but lacking in capabilities
(HolaNeighbor), to just plain bizarre (DeskHappy).   

 For any of these websites to be successful, they are going to need
a critical mass of users.  They all rely on connecting people with one
another, so without lots of users all over the country, these sites are
guaranteed to be flops.  Right now, none of these sites seems to have a
large userbase.  Further, in order to develop that userbase, these
startups need to offer a superior product with lots of things for
people to do online.  These sites just don’t offer that.  Features are
limited, usability is questionable, and overall, the point of these
websites is mysterious.  After investigating them, I was left with a
pretty big question mark, "Yeah? So? What’s the point?" in my head.

While I think that Startup Weekend is a cool concept and certainly
an interesting experiment, I’m not sure that the end products have any
value.  If the point of these conferences is to get a bunch of people
together to have fun and "see what happens", then I guess they are a
success. If the point, however, is to start a viable internet company,
they’ve all failed miserably. 

Everyone hears about new "Internet companies" everyday—the result of
people thinking up new ways to connect individuals online in today’s
Facebook/MySpace era.  I would bet that currently, there is a social
network for just about any subject or interest area.  Webbys around the
world have this concept covered, and I think that the market is
saturated.  With two big players, Facebook and MySpace, is there really
room for more narrow-topic startups? I don’t know.

As an Internet user, I like to aggregate most of my online content
into as few websites as possible, limiting the number of URLs to visit
each day.  If I were to try to use even a fraction of the social
networks out there, my boss would probably fire me because I’d spend
way too much time fooling around online.  Many of these new social
network startups do little but create more work for people–more content
to create, more websites to check, more spam to delete.  

With this in mind, I’m not sure that the results of Startup
Weekend’s efforts are really worthwhile.  Most of the "companies"
created have little purpose, and are probably doing little more than "clogging the tubes ".

But maybe I am being too critical. Surely these Startup Weekend
websites are a lesson in capability—we now know that an Internet
company can be built in a weekend.  They are also probably a source of
creative thinking—each startup weekend has resulted in a new product
unlike any other.  There is always the chance that one future Startup
Weekend will hit the jackpot.  You never know unless you try, I guess.


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