Sometimes when an idea's time has come it literally bursts forth into the world and you'll have a hard time controlling it. The #GiveFirst HackFest has definitely been one of those ideas.
Not to long ago, I was sitting on my coach, pondering how to make a contribution with my iOS skills. I thought of the Boulder Food Rescue (a local charity that donates unused food to families who need it). They really were doing something I believed in. So I did some research and BAM! there it was on their website. They needed a way to communicate with their volunteers more effectively. To be exact, they needed a mobile app! I was in business.
I signed up and attended one of their intro sessions, and while I was there listening an idea came to me. I had been attending the wonderful hackathons at QuickLeft and having a great time. I'd won 3rd place at the last two :-). But at the end we would just ditch what we built. What if you could get that many hackers to work on real tech problems for nonprofits? I could do so much more than build one app for one nonprofit. I could help facilitate building 10 apps for nonprofits over a single weekend!
I didn't sleep well that night, I was so excited about the idea. The very next day I went to work at TechStars, and excited about the idea I pitched it to Julie Penner, the program manager. Julie is not one to drag her feet when she hears a good idea. The minute I told her about it she said, "That's a great idea! Let's call it the GiveFirst Hackfest, and hold it right before Thanksgiving!"
"Um, what?" I was dumbstruck. I had been thinking of doing this maybe 6 months down the road. Nothing like a kick in the ass from Julie to get your projects moving. No wonder she's so good at mentoring young companies.
We just put our landing page up last week and we've already had 25 people RSVP! If you'd like to participate you can RSVP here.
I'm still a bit shocked at how fast this has all come together. It's a grand experiment and I can't wait to see what we're able to accomplish with it.