Thoughts become things: the birth of a startup

How does a thought become a thing? Let me explain…

A hackathon is an event where people pitch app ideas, find a team of developers, and work for 24 hours straight (without sleep) to build an MVP. A panel of judges then listen to pitches, select a winner, and hand out prizes.

I came into Angelhack Dubai looking to build something innovative. I’m not a developer, so I needed a problem that was compelling enough to rally developers. It also needed to be so simple that it could be built in 24 hours.

I am one of those people that keeps a running list of things I don’t like; its called the “list of things that suck”. Some have solutions I have thought through, and some are just bitch rants that I hope sound funny.

Thing that sucks #5

“I suck at taking notes. I rush to write down notes on things I know are important but miss out on other important points while figuring out what to write”

The gears began churning as I thought through the never-ending scribble that leads to meeting amnesia at work. All those statements I couldn’t quite remember. All those data points I missed. All those misunderstood tasks I had to follow-up on. What was the point of meeting if I couldn’t remember anything useful?

I google “effective meetings”.

Effective Meetings 101

“Take comprehensive and organized notes. Send out clear highlights. Follow-up.”

Hmmm, sounds simple enough… what if an app could automate this?

“Comprehensive notes”

Tough one to do with a pen and paper, but with your smartphone, you can simply record the entire discussion.

“Organized notes”

Well good meetings have agendas, so how about we let users select the agenda topic under discussion and organize the recording.

“Clear highlights”

People know when something important is said. We’ve all been there when everyone reaches for their pen at the same time. A big button that tags & captures “important moments” can replace the scribbling.

“Follow-up”

Well at this point, sending out notes would be super simple. So why not just email the attendees the notes, each linked to the highlighted soundbites.

As the idea crystalized, I realized how much time this could save me. All that time wasted. Time lost. Time I could use again & recycle. Time to get back to my friends, to the gym, to my life outside work!

I had the simple idea, now I needed to find an extraordinary team. We had 60 seconds to pitch the concept, I think I took 20. I guess that’s pretty simple…

Ayush and Rishav approached me. To prove their chops, they showed me a geo-location based social media app that they built. I was hooked. We had our Front-end and Back-end developer.

Julia waited in the background as I explained the concept further to the dev-duo. Soon enough, she jumped in to help with the User Experience. Another front-end developer, Asem, and a self-proclaimed “growth hacker”, Gokhan, joined the team as well. The rest is history.

In under 24 hours, a thought became a thing, a really freakin’ cool thing.

A fully working voice recorder where you could record and playback meetings by topic. A highlight tag that captures the most important moments for easy reference. A quick note taker that allowed you to annotate the recordings. An automated follow-up that emails notes out to make sure everyone is on the same page.

We call this “thing” Wrappup

Because thats exactly what it does. It wraps up meetings, and its an app. We make a logo. Again, super simple. We present to the judges. They seem interested. We wait to hear the results.

“Today’s winners will receive a place in Angelhack’s Global Hackcelerator program. A 12 week startup course where hackathon winners from around the world compete for a chance to pitch at Global Demo Day in Silicon Valley. That’s right, SILICON VALLEY!
And the winner is…. (drumroll, heartbeats, whispers…)

Team Wrappup!”

It was a dream. They hand us one of those massive cardboard checks. There’s no money amount written. It just says “Angelhack Winner Spring 2015 — Dubai”.

Who cares, we won! We’re going to Silicon Valley! There’s no guarantee, but something tells me we’re already there.

I guess good things take time, but great things happen all at once.