What I Did On My Startup Vacation - 1

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What I Did On My Startup Vacation - 1
How was your Thanksgiving?

Because mine sucked.

It had nothing to do with the holiday itself. That was awesome, probably the best 45 minutes I had all year. And it was actually kind of quiet on the work front, but I never stopped working.

Not because I had to. But because I'm an entrepreneur. Stop me if this sounds familiar.

The week before Thanksgiving week, Automated Insights had its second hackathon, where all of us nerds who spend our days teaching robots how to write lucidly about sports, finance, real estate, and several other disciplines, get together for 36 straight hours to try to teach the robots new things.

I had an idea this year that really didn't seem like much of a winner, it was just something I was interested in for my own personal enjoyment. But if you're an entrepreneur, you know that that's the exact trap that starts companies.

Before I realized what was going on, my pitch to potential hack team members went from half-hearted to pretty impassioned and suddenly I had volunteers ready to work with me.

The other idea I pitched was something called "Douche or Cool," which is kind of like Klout but more honest.

No takers.

Anyway, my idea for the hackathon turned out to be viable. In fact, we won. Now, let me tell you that I've never been prouder of anything in my life. These aren't just geeks, these are robot-wrangling mega-geeks.

My idea also turned out to be full of holes, and that was painfully pointed out during the demo and judging process. Not that the judges were harsh, they were actually quite open and nice with their constructive criticism. But I might be the most competitive person on the planet. You call a foul on me, you better be bleeding.

I could have just basked in the win, talked my trash, and left it at that. I mean, it was over right. I took home the trophy and all.

But you know what would be cool?

Filling the holes.

So I decided to take the three days before Thanksgiving to polish up the idea and get it into an MVP to maybe pitch to an actual company after the break.

No dice. The Monday morning before Thanksgiving, we got a call from a potential client who wanted one of our products, only different.

I could have cranked out a demo that day, handed it off to my team, and then spent the final days before the holiday looking over their shoulders and nitpicking.

But you know what would be cool? Actually incorporating some of their good ideas.

My team and I spent Monday through Wednesday turning different into better, taking the full three days to enhance and focus on some of the finer points that the potential customer may or may not notice, but would be there if they asked.

We wrapped up late Wednesday night and I got home to find a UPS box on my porch that contained a Moto RAZR M with Jellybean, a phone and an OS I had been wanting to review. No problem, right? Play with the new toy all long weekend and crank out a few hundred words Sunday night once it was clear that all of the holiday fun had been had.

But you know what would be cool? Getting my hands back on an iPhone 5 and a Samsung Galaxy S3 and timing the review for Black Friday shopping.

Then once I got into the ExitEvent site and got frustrated with the content management system I had built for it, I thought "Well, I've got some downtime. Maybe other entrepreneurs would like to post articles to their profile pages."

There's a closed beta going on right now. Let me know if you want to join it.

By Friday morning, I'd gotten the review up with stellar results, finished the ExitEvent enhancements, and was ready to dig deep into the hackathon idea, if only for an hour or so while everyone was Black Friday shopping.

Email: We closed a deal. Small changes required to the product in one week's time. We could start first thing Monday morning.

But you know what would be cool? Big changes.

Screw it. I'll finish the hackathon idea once we've delivered on the deal.

I'll have plenty of down time next weekend.