A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to drop by at the In50hrs that happened at the Thought Works office in Pune. And that's where I got a chance to meet Vijay Anand, founder of The Startup Centre and a core member and organizer of In50hrs.
For those who don't know about In50hrs, it is an idea-to-prototype event that's been happening for the last three years across various cities in India. Essentially bringing your ideas to life. Over a weekend, in 50 hours.
Among other things I had a chance to find out more about the In50hrs initiative. With the event coming back to Chennai this weekend, here are some interesting questions that Anand has answered telling us what In50hrs is all about.
What are some interesting prototypes from previous event that went on to become great products?
We've had a few good ones: eventifier.co was one of the products built during In50hrs. There is Tourmyapp, Kobster.com (an ecommerce venture in the corporate stationary space), Unclassroom.com, Huntshire.com, Komparify (a mobile app that allows you to check your usage patterns and then optimize the plans), and etc. We have had close to 280 prototypes built, about 100 products and 25 startups emerge so far.
What are some interesting trends or insights from In50hrs?
We do notice certain key traits between a prototype that ships versus dies in the laptop. One is literally the chasm of getting to the other side by launching the product on the Web. But the differentiation between a good prototype and one that isn't, is the market research that goes into understanding the problem really well. We also think prototyping and hacking (in Hackathons) are two very different things.
What's your role in nurturing these ideas beyond just being prototypes? Do you mentor/incubate some of them?
We have a six-month pre-accelerator programme where we help the prototypes to become products--which means, going through customer development, getting the price points right, sizing and delivering on the value proposition and even getting a couple of revenue generating customers onboard.
Do you do anything beyond mentoring/providing a platform?
In50hrs has become a great place and a neutral environment to find team mates, good mentors, and also tap into an ecosystem of support. Post-In50hrs, we still keep in touch, such as through a Facebook group, where people share where they are and get support from the community. That way, it's like a virtual incubator of sorts.
Is there a followup after the event to find out how that idea has actually helped solve real problems?
We do invite some of the teams that went in the previous edition (3 months before) and ask them to come and share what worked and didn't work for them, in each edition in each of the cities. There are some good learnings on what they assumed didn't work, or didn't expect but is working for them so that the learning loop continues.
Does this platform help them build a real product or it just enables them to create ideas and then take a different route actually go ahead and build something worthwhile?
We believe there are three stages to building a tech startup:
Stage 0: Identify a problem--in case you aren't finding one, you can get some help here
Stage 1: Build a prototype (In50hrs)
Stage 2: Build product (Pre-Accelerator Programme)
Stage 3: Build the startup (Accelerator Programme)
We have this in a visual form at http://www.thestartupcentre.com/model
How many ideas in the past 3 years since the start of the event have gone ahead to become startups?
So far the numbers are that we have seen 400+ participants, about 180 Prototypes built, and 28 Startups emerge.
Vijay Anand can be reached on twitter @vijayanands