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CPP’s Top Tips for Developers at Startup Weekend

Developers and programmers are always in high demand at Startup Weekend. Varying backgrounds and skill levels come together to contribute. Whether you’re a front-end or backend developer, or a software programmer, you’ll find teams and ideas that need your skills and knowledge.

Here are eight top tips from Computer Power Plus for making the most out of the weekend:

1. Get it done.
To build a business in a weekend you need to move fast. Rapid prototyping is key to efficient product development. Keep your code clean and follow good processes. But remember the product for what it is, a prototype at this stage, and code accordingly.

You may not leave Startup Weekend having written the most beautifully crafted piece of code this world has ever seen. But (all going to plan) you will have built something that works, in just 54 hours.

2. Try out something new
Have you always wanted to have a go at Node.js? Canvas? Ruby? All bets are off at Startup Weekend. As the developer in the team this is your opportunity to have a play and find a new (hopefully fun) way of doing things that you might not get to do from Monday to Friday. 

3. Whatever you need to do your job – bring it and do it.
If you prefer to work on two screens – take in two screens. If you have a particular attachment to your mouse – bring it in. If Red Bull fuels your development, or you have a favourite playlist, make sure you have everything you need to work productively.

4. Talk to your teammates.
Just as you are there to learn, the people in your team are too. Share your practices and keep your teammates in the loop. Communication is the golden rule for any success. That doesn’t mean you should run a lesson on JavaScript in the middle of Saturday evening pitch practice, but show the team what you’re building and why. Get your designer to sit with you and run through the implementation of their design. There are no silos in a Startup Weekend team. 

5. Back your idea.
You have a deep understanding of technology and what is required to build something, therefore you can approach an idea with a clear vision and understanding.

Don’t hesitate to pitch your idea because you might not know how to validate it, or finance it. You know how to build it and what is achievable over the weekend and that is extremely valuable.

6. Leverage the people around you.
Chances are there may be more than one developer on your team and there will definitely be some amazing programmers in the room. Although Startup Weekend is a competition – competition isn’t the spirit of Startup Weekend. It’s about learning and transforming and creating. If you’re stuck on something go ask for help. Talk to other techies at lunch time, find a mentor, phone a friend – the ability to ask for help is a huge skill. And with all of the talent in the room for one weekend – it would be a shame not to absorb and soak some of it up.

7. Give it all you’ve got.
You only have 54 hours at this event with this team. When the weekend is over it is entirely your choice whether you keep working on the project. And it is perfectly ok to say ‘cool, thanks for the experience guys’ and leave it at Sunday night. This means that you have one weekend to pour your heart into an idea and to achieve something you’ve never done before with no pressure as to what happens on Monday. This is an awesome and unique opportunity because you can work incredibly hard, finish exhausted, and wake up on Monday back in your day-to-day life – leaving as little or as much of the weekend behind you as you want.

8. Break out of the mould
Just because your name tag says developer doesn’t mean you have to be developing 24/7 for 54 hours. If you want to have a go at market validation, do it. Contribute to all team discussions and have a say. For many devs in the workforce, the process is something like:

The business, finance and marketing teams work out what is needed; they brief the design team who create a fully fledged design and spec it out; THEN and only then does the developer get his/her first glimpse of the project.

At Startup Weekend you are in it from the start. You get to have a say on everything – from who your customer is, to what the unique value proposition is, to the UI design. Make the most of this experience. In doing this you will get a more holistic understanding of business and the different people and components that make it up.

Solving a problem in limited time is the most fun and terrifying way to learn and grow. Aim to take at least one thing from your experience over the weekend back into your daily work and life and you will inevitably find the weekend transformative. 

CPP_Logo2014_CMYKComputer Power Plus is a specialist IT training institute with campuses in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. 

We provide a range of popular IT courses, from Certificate to Advanced Diploma level covering IT Support, Software Development, Systems Technology and Network Engineering. Students study at their own pace in our unique self-directed learning environment and are provided with dedicated job placement assistance upon graduation.

For more information view: http://www.computerpowerplus.ac.nz

Laura Kerrison