I spent three days on the 11th floor of San Antonio’s Weston Centre with 30 or so other technologists, developers, students, mentors and entrepreneurs from an incredible variety of backgrounds, all tasked to build new businesses from the ground up before Sunday night.
For those not familiar with Geekdom, it’s a collaborative workspace where entrepreneurs, developers, technologists and others work to build businesses and other cool things together. 3DS, which was held at Geekdom, is an entrepreneurship education program that emphasizes learning by doing with the goal of having participants start a tech company over the course of three days.
Friday afternoon we broke up into small four- or five-person groups to discuss our initial ideas. By midnight, we had filtered and decided on the five best ideas which we were most excited to work on that weekend. I ended up on a team with Greg Wehmeyer, an awesome local web designer, and two other Rackers, Brian Johnson, International Team Lead, and David Rocha, Sales Guru. Rackers stick together after all.
Over the next 48 hours, we went through several iterations and ended up with TeachersTrade.org, an online collaboration site where teachers could share lesson plans, local vendor discounts and supplies. With each new round of teachers, principals, marketers and mentors we talked to, our vision morphed and transpired into the business we pitched to judges on Sunday night. You can check out our presentation here.
The judges were the usual cast of characters: Rackspace co-founders Dirk Elmendorf and Pat Condon; folks from the Denim Group; and others.
Several interesting ideas came out of the weekend, including a website to track performance improvement for young aspiring soccer players; an app to coordinate college students sharing taxis; and another Android app that allows users to scan bar codes in grocery stores to see if the food contains glucose, or shellfish or other allergens.
Overall it wasn’t really about the ideas pitched that weekend, but the bonds made between the people there. I befriended a University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) student named Tyler who single-handedly created the Android food allergy app from start to finish after an 18 hour all-nighter and a six pack of red bull. Rackspace needs to hire this kid quick before someone else does.
It was incredible to see the interactions between the different backgrounds, experience levels and skill sets among the 3DS attendees.
If you haven’t checked out Geekdom, you owe it to yourself to reach out to Geekdom Director Nick Longo and make your way down there. Take a tour or attend a class after work. After work today I’m heading down there for a couple hours to learn about SEO and iOS development. I’m also meeting my 3DS buddies to talk about next steps for TeachersTrade. The next 3DS event is in October. When you see the announcement come through your inbox, think twice before you delete it.