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How in the world am I going to write an app in 54 hours when my current one has taken 7 months?

This was the question I was asking myself in the days leading up to Startup Weekend Garden Grove, my first event of the kind. I knew I wanted to go and I was excited about all the people I was going to meet, but being relatively new to the field of iOS meant I was nervous about being able to deliver what my team expected of me in such a short time period.

What if my team wants to build a music platform that splits songs and combines them into instant auditory perfection! I just mastered creating tables!

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The group I worked with wanted to build a platform for people to receive help with household tasks without having to pay an arm and a leg for something simple a neighbor could do. Our goal was to help people with leaky sinks and little plumbing knowledge. My mind was racing while my teammates spit out feature after feature, and I didn’t want to burst anyone’s bubble with an interjection of, “I really have no clue how do that.” I wanted to provide the things my team wanted but I knew we had to be realistic.

Luckily for me, and anyone who is interested in attending as a developer, my fears were instantly assuaged the moment we started talking about the build. While the app we wanted to make wasn’t simple, we all realized that we just needed a prototype.

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We had to dazzle the judges with our idea and mock out the features of our app just enough to show that it was viable and workable. In order to do this, I ended up using an application called Invision. It is free to download and use, and its an easy way to create a fake app with buttons and transitions out of nothing but a Photoshop image. Ironically, because of this choose I ended up not writing a single line of code that weekend and instead learned how to use our mock up software and Photoshop.

However, not all developers had the same experience that weekend. Many teams opted to create working iOS or web applications, and they were able to show off a little more of their developer know how. To be honest,  the teams that chose to do that produced very buggy software, but the awesome thing was that nobody cared. We all knew the pressure we were under and the judges didn’t decry a team because something wasn’t perfect or beautiful. The main thing is to be able to show that something is possible or create one main feature that you can show off for the event.

For my next Startup Weekend, I want to go the code approach. It was fun to learn Invision and approach our app from the design perspective. However, now that have bested my fears of screwing up the team, I want to see how far I can take an app in a weekend. I know all the developers I talked to had a blast learning how to code under pressure or showing off the fact that they could do it well. The biggest thing I learned from the event was that no matter your experience as a developer, designer or non-technical, you will get a lot out of committing the time to your weekend startup!

Dale Fairclough
Santa Clarita Startup Weekend Organizer and iOS Developer

Dale Fairclough