I have written about HackFwd before and I am an adoring fan of the concept. I think the whole IT industry should acknowledge what Lars Hinrichs has done by starting this movement. Obviously many have seen the enormous potential and HackFwd is now being copied more or less exactly all over the world.
Well I am writing now, because I have just attended the 6th Build event (at least that was when I wrote the post, but I wanted to wait for all the videos) –the HackFwd conference for all HackBoxes (Investments) and the HackFwd network. With 50+ attendees this was the biggest build event so far and in my opinion also the best one.
You may follow some of the content of the conference on Twitter when looking for the hashtag #build06. Still I want to give my summery here to make it more concise and because I think HackFwd should get much more publicity (and that is after Germany´s most known management newspaper just wrote an article about it)
I would like to share my take on two of the HackBoxes in a future post – that does not mean I think any of the others have less potential, I just picked out two stories I like and if I get around to writing more posts on HackBoxes I will cover the other ones, because they are all great. I also want to recommend some of the speakers at the event. If you ever get the chance to see them at an event, stop caring about entrance fees, just go, it will be worth your while.
Let´s start with my favourite four presenters and their presentationhere. I will list them in alphabetical order so don´t read any preference into this.
First I would like to recommend Mike Butcher – not that he needs any more recommending…, but…. This was the most entertaining and well-presented talk I ever heard about PR and dealing with the press. Ok, Mike is a well-trained presenter and all, but his presentations are very obviously coming from “within”. I also had the chance to talk to Mike, and even though I would have much preferred to talk about automation instead of past merits and eccentric holidays I can now – from personal experience – say that Mike is – despite his tremendous reach in the industry – a polite guy, someone who actually listens to what people have to say and someone who understates his knowledge of the industry up to a degree where modesty seems too weak a word. Yes he comes across as an ego, but that is part of the job or would any of us read his articles otherwise? I was seriously positively surprised, because I was actually expecting a super arrogant know-it-all as I have experienced before with other journalists with less insight into the industry. Don´t get me wrong, this is not brown nosing; as you know TechCrunch does not cover our customers or industry focus but is just a source of up to date information and opinion read by a lot of people in our company – so there is nothing to gain for us from praising TechCrunch or its senior staff. This is my opinion and as I believe positive surprises are worth mentioning I do.
Second I would like to recommend Stephanie Kaiser. She is product lead at Wooga and responsible for three of their games – two of them being under construction and one of the being “Monster World“, their biggest hit. And in my books it is no wonder that her projects work out. She is KPI driven, yet passionate about every detail (let me just mention orange monsters for those who were at the event). Stephanie made me think that we should start looking at enterprise applications as games and she made me look at the topic of user tests and user relations in a completely new way. If you want to see someone who is PASSIONATE about her job, talk to her or let her talk to your audience (if you can persuade her to take time off from grooming monsters that is).
Third I would like to recommend Josep M. Pujol, who is now working at 3scale.com. Very few people want to talk to me about algorithms but with Josep I was in the details within 5 minutes. In some areas he has a very strong opinion coming out of commercial research, which I prefere much to the pure intellectual discussion of theory. I would love to regularly talk to Josep, just to check up on my thoughts on parallel programming, AI and distributive development. Well, one thing that we definitely agree upon is that it is the API you need to standardize, not the program itself. He is one of the smartest guys I have met lately and he is so modest about it that you only find out when you listen closely. If you ever need advice on APIs, distributed systems or AI data structures he certainly is a good starting point.
Last but not least I would like to recommend Charles Wiles. His distinguished career as a product manager at Google in Europe should tell us a great deal about his abilities. The talk he gave at the event – 7 good tips for startups – was not just applicable to startups. I felt like telegraphing most of the points home to my guys at arago right away. Absolutely great! And he definitely knew what he was talking about. And then at lunch he showed me the iPhone App he was programming at night over that last 6 months (Huntzz), which is not only educational, but also a lot of fun. So if you are looking for someone who knows where startups can go wrong and need to avoid exactly that, Charles is a great contact. Other than that, just download Huntzz and you can judge yourself, what kind of a guy would program an app like that at night besides his day job.