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Startup Weekend – Mj

By Ruth
June 13 2016

Posted in Community

This is a guest post by Mel John del Barrio, one of several #SoTWLG alumni/students & friends who participated in Startup Weekend Wellington in May 2016. Huge thanks to the Startup Weekend team & the fabulous folks at the Biz Dojo for making this experience possible!

Joining Startup Weeekend was baptism of fire for me. It brought memories when I was a noobie scientist at a public hospital in the Philippines.  I was tasked to collect blood samples in all the wards, including the ER. Alone and for 16 hours straight!

In the weeks leading up to the event my mind was full of ideas and enthusiasm for the 1-minute pitch.  I thought of starting businesses in anything from food to medical. Coming from a medical background I decided to pitch something that is very dear to me (other than C# and Java)…Pathology, the study of disease. Cancer, autopsy and all the gross biological stuff you can imagine!

Here’s MJ teaching Bubba some C++

The day came and I delivered my 1-minute pitch. We made posters so people could choose their favourite pitches with orange dots and talk to the pitcher. I made the error of not standing next to my poster, so I ended up with only four team members (2 student developers, 1 Business Analyst and 1 student designer).

Team “HistoTrack” converged and started brainstorming and creating a plan. I found it very difficult to discuss medical stuff with non-medical people but luckily one of the other team members used to be a medical professional too. Plans were written and work was delegated and we retired for the night.

Saturday morning. Did I just see a note in our workspace? Yes I did, and it was a note for us that one of team members got sick and will be unlikely to continue. Oh well! At least there are three people left…. but wait there is more! I got a text midday from the other team member that she is unlikely to continue due to work commitments. Was this a sign that my idea wouldn’t work and it’s time to quit? But I have never quit in my life!

Me and my other team mate, Yuriy spoke to the mentors/crew about the best thing to hurdle our problem. We were advised either to disband our team and join other teams or face the music and do whatever we can. We chose the latter. Two student devs becoming the “Jack-Of-All-Trades”. Yuriy doing the front-end and back-end and I doing the business analysis side. I started researching business models and asking mentors how everything fits in together with our idea. It was full speed ahead until 9 pm when I decided that I might just quit. I went for a walk in the rainy night to contemplate my next step. Should I quit and leave Yuriy alone and regret it in the future? Or should I dance with the music and produce something?

The last day dawned upon us and I decided to stay. Preparations were underway for the final pitch. Mentors are giving us advice. Crew members boosting our confidence

Then our time came, The “Pitch”. It was a very different experience, my confidence jumped up multiple notches and felt this sense of achievement that I can do anything. I felt I was like Michael Edwards from the movie Eddie the Eagle soaring high despite the challenges!

I’d like to thank Summer of Tech & Biz Dojo for giving me the opportunity to attend the event. Thanks Yuriy Ackerman for the pep talk and staying til the end! I’d also like to thank the mentors, volunteer crew and other teams for giving us support during SSWLG 2016. Au revoir!

Team Histotack SWWLG

P.S. I am joining the GovHack and the next StartUp Weekend in Wellington in November!

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