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Hackathon at JotSpot

 

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Hackathon Fun JotSpot

 

 

Google Sites started out as JotSpot, the name and sole product of a software company that offered enterprise social software. It was targeted mainly at small-sized and medium-sized businesses. In May 2006, JotSpot was honored as one of InfoWorld's "15 Start-ups to Watch". In October 2006, JotSpot was acquired by Google.

"My sense is that innovation can, in reality, get quickly lost in a start up especially once that startup is launched," says Joe Kraus, Founder of JotSport. This happens because the company is short staffed and the company is trying to get customers in as many ways as possible that it's very easy to squeeze innovation out of the system and instead get focused exclusively on customer-driven development. You go from a company with a lot of great ideas and big visions, to a company with a year-long roadmap and no real sense of "I-came-up-with-this-great-idea-which-I-built-over-the-weekend-and-look-how-cool-it-is".'

What can help startups stay innovative? The answer of Joe Kraus: Have fun!

At JotSpot, they experimented with ways to continue to bring in breaths of fresh air and innovation into the normal process of getting a company off the ground. After a bunch of different attempts, they finally found one that works. They called it a "hackathon".  It is a great way to keep a creative soul alive!

The idea is that you make a day-long event (at whatever frequency you want) where everyone works on something that is valuable to the company, but not what they're "supposed" to be working on and that can be taken from idea to working prototype in one day.

A hackathon starts at 9:00am and ends at 8:00pm. From 8:00-10:00pm you do presentations where each team member or group shows their work.

The results of the first hackathon held at JotSpot were amazing. "It's unbelievable what you can get done in a day with a focused, motivated and creative team. When you give people the time to do the thing that always seems "just out of reach" people's creativity cracks wide open," says Joe Kraus. "What was particularly cool was the energy it brought to the team. People felt envigorated and recharged. In fact, one of our engineers was so excited he exclaimed (during the presentations) "Dude, I just want to crawl into my hole [his cube], grow a beard, a build shit!". I couldn't have put it any better myself."

In a startup, allocating time is not the same as taking it. The time allocated tends to get taken up by something urgent that comes up at the last minute. Making an event out of it adds enthusiasm, anticipation and "stupid antics that make this kind of thing fun (air-horns, stupid hats, lots of pez, etc). So, in short do a hackathon. It will do you good," advises Joe Kraus.  >>>

 

     

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