It has been often said that finding a co-founder for a startup is like finding your future husband or wife. And that working together shoulder to shoulder with other founders on a project is like being married. And that creating and nurturing a product into maturity is like raising a child.
Those metaphors then led me to think about what could be a proper dating process for such future parents to meet in the first place. There another metaphor clicked into place — “hackathon is to meet your co-founder”. Hence future spouse. That has a lot of truth to it, especially because of multiple issues you have to overcome together. You face stress, you face deadlines, you have to brainstorm collectively, you get to feel each person’s rough edges, their way of working, what they will and what they won’t do, etc.
All that is certainly true, participants come out of them even with a very clear understanding — is it possible to work together or not. Of course, more important is time after — can people commit, can they change their lives, can they focus. But still, hackathon works as a date for future parents of world-changing products.
However, it is very tough for a first date. It is like first meeting your date and immediately going onto a 30-kilometer hike, with sleeping in the wild and two team obstacle courses in unexpected places during the event.
Maybe there could be a simpler version of the same hackathon date built? Something more like going out together for an evening, instead of meeting one’s family and choosing the tapestry together, as a first date experience.
There could be an event, that would last only for an evening, where people would split in pairs or in threes and would try to build something. Build not some of their own world-changing ideas, but something simpler. Something palpable and evening-sized. For example some cool robot out of Lego Mindstorm, or some other robotic kit. Or some model in a visual programming language. Something out of my comfort zone for most of the participants, interesting for techies, yet feasible also for non-techies. Something for everybody to show off the skill of working together, creativity, communication, and aptitude for co-creation.
There could even be a speed dating version of the event. Each pair has five minutes to play with one puzzle together, to tell a bit about themselves, and to share an idea or two.
Everybody needs somebody. With such an event, all that will be left will be to come up with a name for somebody who has not yet found his partner(s) in creation. For a single person.