There are many people, most talking in small circles of 3 or 4. I looked around, wondering how to mix into any of them as I ramble in the room. Then I saw Brian and he saw me. Brian said “Hi” first and we started telling each other what we do and what projects we’ve been working on. Later, as people start to leave for the night we think we should take each other’s contact. I opened my Twitter app and asked Brian what’s his Twitter handle. As Brian spells his handle I found it hard to catch every character, because it was still pretty loud in the bar, so I bursted out, “You know I wish I could just scan your handle instead of typing on this phone.” “Yeah, we should do it!” Brian replied. “Yeah, why not?” I thought.
A month later, I found myself at another event, CofoundersLab Boston. After I stuffed my stomach with some pizza, I started talking to people. The room was full of startup founders who are looking for developers, so nobody seemed would get anything out of it. Then I met one guy who asked me what I was working on. I told him I am working on an app that makes it easier to meet with people you care. After a few clarifications he passed me his phone, and asked me to leave my email. An idea struck me as I type, “Why are we still typing each other’s contact in this post-smart-phone era?”.
The next day, I received an email from Juergen, the guy I met previous day. In the email he introduced me to Mike, who is also working on an event app. Mike and I met for a few times and I found we share many similar thoughts about how things should work. It’s fun to bounce ideas with him on product design and marketing. One day I mentioned the concept of electronic business card to him, we brainstormed a bit and forgot about it. But the idea kept coming back, each time I see people clumsily typing emails or telephones when they don’t have business cards or run out of them at events. So as soon as I found out the date of AngelHack Boston, I signed up, even though it’s only 4 days away.
I decided to work alone because from my experience at StartupWeekend I knew arguing about features is the best way to get nothing done in hackathons. I swore I would never do hackathon again after 24 hours of non-stop coding but I am proud the mission was complete. I came up with an MVP of Loop that supports exchanging contact information, either by scanning QR code or nearby discovery based on iOS’s multi-peer connectivity framework. No typing is required. I showed the prototype to people in the event and people loved it. Although I didn’t win the hackathon, I’ve got my validation out of it.
I showed the prototype to Brian and Mike the next weekend and they loved the new idea. So we got together to innovate social networking, in the real world.
To be continued…