People have already written various reports on Garage48 Helsinki, so I decided to take a different approach to the experience. I want to emphasize the stuff that I learned during the weekend. There’s no particular order of importance for these remarks, since they’re all equally important when participating in such an intensive project with a very short deadline – be you in the role of a manager or team member. I had never participated in an event like this and, at first, I was a bit afraid to take the role of project manager in the TurnStartup –project. This post is for those who have hesitated to participate in such an event. If I can do it, you can pull it off too!
1. The team around you is the A and O – in everything! The team defines what you can accomplish during the weekend, and furthermore it also defines whether there is a future for your startup. We struggled with not having enough resources (i.e. no front-end) and if the members of other teams hadn’t helped us out, we would’ve failed. (thanks Montroller!)
2. You need to set some clear goals at the very beginning of the project. We made the mistake of having everybody just doing something, whereas we should’ve been drawing the sitemap and locking in the features that we wanted to implement for sure. By doing this, you’re able to give specific tasks to team members and get them to do the right work from the beginning. Thanks Ramine Darabiha and Teemu Kurppa for pointing us to the right direction.
3. Ask, ask and ask. You can save hours of time if you just ask people around and discuss emerging topics. If you don’t know what input the back-end developer needs, how he should brief the front-end guy, or what can actually be done in a feasible amount of time – just ask. For me, this was an invaluable lesson to learn to communicate with my team. I also learned to translate the technological jargon to the designers and myself – and vice versa. This is also something where the mentors can help you and your team.
4. Have information available. We had our targets, planned tasks, UI and design-mockups hanging on the wall so that people could constantly check what they were supposed to do and what we should deliver during the weekend.
5. Keep up the team spirit. By having fun and creating a relaxed atmosphere, team members will deliver more. We played music, cracked horrible jokes and sang songs totally out of tune to help us keep motivated.
I can assure you that these are not the only lessons I learned, and some might feel they’re pretty evident, but I think they make a good guideline for a successful 48 hours. I’d be extremely interested to hear your thoughts on what you and your team learned during the Garage48 weekend.
Thank you to the organizers and the other teams for a memorable and insightful weekend. Check the below links for coverage of the event.