By Douglas Latimer (Director, Women 2.0 Startup Weekend Documentary) A year ago, I was in a Digital Video Intensive Class at SFSU and we wanted to do a group film project. Dave Kockbech pitched the idea of documenting Startup Weekend.
At the time, I had never heard of Startup Weekend. Dave proceeded to explain it was a bunch of hackers hunched over laptops writing code... This didn’t exactly inspire notions of a grand film in my mind.
Regardless, I decided to do some research. What I found amazed me and has continued to be a part of my life since that day.
As many of you know, Startup Weekend is a place where entrepreneurs come together to figure out ways to solve problems. It’s a place where strangers converge over like ideas and build prototypes that turn into companies. It’s a place where those with heaps of experience and those with little meet to discover if they have what it takes to leap off the proverbial cliff. In short, it’s a room filled with people who want to change the world.
It sounds trite, though it probably shouldn’t, I’m here because I want to change the world. Yet, in interview after interview, the participants, the leaders of Startup Weekend and Women 2.0, heck, even the vendors bringing coffee kept repeating the sentiment again and again. I’m here because I want to change the world.
And they are. Idea by idea, byte by byte, they are devoting their time to solving the problems that plague us all. And beyond that, they are creating a new model for survival in these strange economic times. Don’t have a job, create one.
At last year's Women 2.0 Startup Weekend, we witnessed women figuring out how to use mobile technology to help improve the lives of women on the other side of the world whom they will probably never meet.
We saw bright young minds tackle issues as diverse as personal health to note taking. They discussed collaborative consumption, and how to reconnect people locally through social networks. They re-imagined travel and advertising and resumes and college funding and campaign contributions and on and on … and we attempted to capture it all and when it was all said and done we were left completely blown away.
Here was a world, a place, where folks came together honestly and participated with wide eyed enthusiasm, wondering what they could make better, and how. They occupied a spot inside us all, where passion can’t be contained and ideas must be vetted.
They challenged and inspired and like a lot of folks in the startup space, Dave and I were hooked. Here was where the hard work paid off, this place where everything seems possible.
This story is so much bigger than one team or one weekend, and yet, like every great idea, it must start somewhere. For us, as we continue to work with startups and tell a more complete tale, it started here with a crew of twenty and a budget that costs more to mention than it’s worth in dollars.
We began with a handful of students that had only recently learned how to set up lights. We drew on significant support from our community through Kickstarter, donated equipment and free labor. We arrived at Startup Weekend Silicon Valley hosted by Women 2.0 and pointed our cameras not sure what we expected to find. But what we found, changed my life. Simply knowing what was out there, what could happen, what was happening and knowing we could be a part of making it all more visible, has become my passion, my pain point.
We put together a documentary "Start Something", shedding some light on a few teams that were at Startup Weekend last year, and we had some success. We hope you enjoy our work. And we encourage you to keep dreaming.
It just takes one idea…
Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Douglas Latimer is a filmmaker living in San Francisco. Having spent the last year working with Startup Weekend, Founder Labs and blackbox connect, Doug has found a niche in the area’s unique startup community. Doug has also filmed live performances by Maceo Parker, They Might Be Giants and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah among others. He’s currently in preproduction on his first feature length documentary about the evolving American Dream.