The other day I was invited to an event called Launch48. It’s an online market event, aiming at pushing young entrepreneurs to launch a complete web application in 48 hours. I was invited to be part of the board. Little I knew about anything “launch48 related” until I made it there, I admit. Had no idea what a “board” means in this context, nor what exactly did I had to do.
I’m not going to give you any details about the technical part, but I do think there’s a lot to talk about the implications of the event at the personal development level.
The Set Up
So, just to be clear: the goal of the event was to launch a complete, functional web app in less than 48 hours. Young entrepreneurs had a 1 minute time frame in which they pitched their ideas. After an evaluation period (a few hours), a jury picked 3 ideas. Once that step completed, the initiators also picked their own teams to implement their idea. From this moment on, everything was under the time pressure.
Every few hours the project managers had board meetings, along with people from their team that they considered relevant for the actual stage of the project. In between, they met mentors who volonteered to help. Each mentor had some unique expertise: programming, marketing, business strategy.
At the end of the first day, the teams had to present an application in a so-called “alpha” stage. A workable proof of concept. At the end of the second day, they must came with a functional “beta”, which means: everything described must work, but bugs are acceptable. During these two days they also had to came up with a lot of related documents: business plans, marketing plans, competition analysis and so on.
The board members (yours truly included) had to “whip” the project managers, follow the progress, ensure the team is on the right track and even provide answers to critical questions. To be honest, I didn’t feel very comfortable playing this role, I never was the “whip” guy, but I did my best to fit in. As a member of the board I was also designated to host the final presentation. In the third day, all three teams presented their apps to a very picky audience (the event was integrated in NetCamp, one of the largest Internet related events in Romania, and not only). My role was to ensure their presentations will run smoothly and in the alloted time frame.
The Happy End
At the end of this marathon, everybody was happy (again, yours truly included). The apps were functioning, the business model was understandable and some teams even had the time to make a little buzz on Twitter or Facebook. It was a complete success.
Ok, now, what I learned from this event?
1. Working under Pressure Is Not Necessarily a Bad Thing
Looking at how those ad-hoc teams managed to communicate, to share tasks, roles and deal with impending difficulties was enlightening. Many of the team members didn’t know each other before. And yet, they managed to create a functioning unit and deliver a final product. In some way, looking at those teams was like looking at a whole year of an entire company’s life, only fast forward: new people, new ideas, coding, marketing plans, communication, failure, starting over. I will repeat myself, but this whole process was really enlightening.
2. When You Really Believe In Your Dream, Nothing Is Impossible
The project managers were also the “idea” guys. Out of several other ideas presented they have been lucky enough to be picked and to be provided with the resources they need. They were able to make their dream come true. In a kind of “sand-box” way, but still. Well, this is what we usually call “luck”. At some points in our life, we do receive all the resources we need for our goals, out of the blue. The lesson: when this is happening, push all the buttons, do whatever you can to make it happening. Don’t quit and be on top of it. In the end, it will really happen.
3. Focus On What Is Really Important
I will need a book to write down all those magnificent ideas ventured by the people involved, from the board members, to mentors, project managers, idea guys or just simple team members. But the time was too short to implement all of them. If they will implement every single strategy, monetization or technical idea, they wouldn’t have finish it in several months. The team leaders heavily exercised their choice muscles. And, again, this is what we do in real life too: we may have a gazillion ideas but if we don’t focus on something achievable and start doing it, we’ll end up with nothing but a bunch of useless, shiny ideas.
4. Discipline Pays Off
They couldn’t achieve something functional without discipline. No team was functioning at 100% and I really don’t think they could, under the circumstances. But all the people made a lot of effort to integrate and leave away distractions and interferences. Some of the team members didn’t even sleep the night before the presentation. Huge effort pays off. Always. Maybe you’re not always in such a fortunate condition to work uninterrupted for 48 hours and, admittedly, the whole event was more of an exercise, a show off, but still, the result is unchallengeable: discipline really pays off.
I want to congratulate all the people I have interacted with and express my honest admiration. It’s not by chance that I offered to each team leader a wild card to my mentorship program. Technical expertise apart, they were all winners and they proved they can stretch way beyond their limits. Also, I would very much want to thank for the invitation to Cristi Manafu, the organizer of this edition of Launch48 in Romania.
5 thoughts on “Being on Board at Launch48”
Dear Dragos, i really like this one and resonate with it SO strongly:
“2. When You Really Believe In Your Dream, Nothing Is Impossible”
That is so true! And it really helps if what you are doing it something that you hunger for so totally and believe in without doubt that you are just compelled to do it.
Even beyond that: If it’s something you LOVE doing so much that you are, compelled to do it, you are doing it for YOU. Then believing in yourself goes to another whole level. Maybe at that point it’s not even believing in ourselves so much as….it’s who you ARE. And just as we must breathe air we must live this dream.
I’ve not worded it very clearly here. I just know that if you passionately LOVE what you do then there is added fuel that goes beyond even believing in ourselves.
.-= Robin Easton´s last blog ..Become the Journey =-.
Dragos, did you mean “whip”? 😀
.-= Gec´s last blog ..The Next of Kin =-.
Of course, this is exactly what I wanted to say 😉 Thanks for the heads on.
Sounds very interesting.
I think that while quality may suffer when you work under extreme pressures such as the one you described, A LOT of good can come out of it if you apply it to other areas of your life. Why? Because pressure FORCES you to take action, and like you said, you’ll focus on getting the REALLY important stuff out of the way first.
Later, you can iron out all the bugs and polish the finishing touches of whatever “project” your working on (whether it be something as simple as accomplishing your goal of quitting caffeine, or something as big as re-building an old engine).
Thanks for sharing with us what you learned at Launch48… so what was the web app your team put together?
.-= Jonathan Beebe | Develop Minds Blog´s last blog ..Try Brainwave Entrainment For FREE =-.
Well, I didn’t have a team, I was on board, trying to push all teams to perform faster and better.