Here’s What You Need to Know!
Last night we officially kicked off Go Code Colorado 2018 with a fun event hosted by Great Divide Brewing Company. So, if you missed it, here are the important take-aways from the event. Apologies, that we haven’t figured out how to turn this blog into a virtual-beer-drinking-and-delicious-snack-eating reality experience, but we’ll keep working on that.
Fundamentally, Go Code Colorado is a series of events. We kicked it off last night, and now we’re proceeding with our Road Show Events in cities across the state.
At the heart of Go Code Colorado is Challenge Weekend, Friday April 13 – Sunday, April 15, 2018. We host the event in five cities across Colorado all at the same time. You can register to participate in any city; doesn’t have to be the city closest to you.
Here’s how Challenge Weekend works.
You can show up on Friday with a full team and a product that you’ve already started building. You can show up with an idea, a few team members and look for additional skills to round out your team. You can show up looking to become part of a team. It’s up to you. If you’re looking to join a team, make sure you come prepared to tell others about your skills and experience.
Saturday is roll up your sleeves and get-to-work day.
Sunday evening, teams pitch their ideas. Two teams from each city are selected as finalists. And, new for 2018, each of those teams receives $2,500 to help them keep moving toward the Final Competition Event. Each finalist team also gets to attend a Mentor Weekend in Boulder, April 27 – 29, 2018. We promise, this weekend alone is worth competing for. Go Code brings in some of the best and brightest in entrepreneurship and tech from across the state. These mentors help teams move their ideas to a minimal viable product by June 7, 2018, for the Final Competition Event, where teams pitch their ideas to a panel of distinguished judges who select three winners. Each winner gets in-kind awards and a cash award of $15,000.
But, seriously, don’t wait for an event, if you don’t want to. You can get to work on your product right now! Start forming a team or look for a team to join. When you register for Challenge Weekend, you get access to the Go Code Colorado’s workspace on #Slack. You can use the #findateam channel to look for team members or find a team to join. Be ready to talk about what skill set you offer or which skills your team needs.
What’s the Challenge Statement Already?
Drum roll please. The 2018 Challenge Statement is: Build a product that uses public data to deliver insights for a business decision maker.
Ok, to some of you that may look a lot like last year’s challenge statement, but there is one key difference. You may note that the word “application” is nowhere in this statement, and that’s intentional. We’re agnostic about what you deliver. This is your product. We don’t know what you’re going to build. If we did, we could probably just build it ourselves. Instead, we’re providing access to the public data, and we’re asking you for your creativity and ingenuity to deliver something that will be useful for business decision makers. It may very well end up being an application, but we want to be as expansive as we can and allow the maximum amount of creativity from participants. So, do it! Create something awesome!
And, in addition to the new challenge statement, be sure to check out the updated participant rules and judging criteria for 2018.
What Makes a Good Team?
Two words: multidisciplinary and diverse. Teams need data people. This is a data competition after all. Public data is its beating heart, no doubt about it. Think data analyst, data scientist or maybe both. A software developer will come in quite handy. Teams also need strong design skills. Don’t forget about marketing; teams need to know who’s going to use the product and how best to get them to use it. And, teams need people who can just get stuff done. It also helps to have someone on the team who’s gone through the entrepreneurial experience before, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Why? Because Go Code is going to help. If no one on your team has ever gone through the process of building a product, bringing it to market and delivering it to customers, we’re here to help. Your team just has to be willing to put in the work.
Start Some Conversations!
To get started, go talk to business decision makers. Go Code will provide the data and mentorship support for teams, but it’s up to each team to deliver what business decision makers actually need. So, go talk to folks who make decisions for their business: the head of a small business or middle management in a large business. Whoever that is, start asking them: How do you make decisions? What information do you use? What kind of research do you conduct? And, very important, what are the gaps that you would like filled? Find the data that can help fill in those gaps, and that’s your idea. Now, get to work on the product.
Visit the Data section of the Go Code Colorado website, and you’ll find info on data resources from Colorado agencies, other organizations and the Federal government. Go Code has an entire team of data experts. In addition to running the challenge, Go Code works year-round with state agencies to publish their data to the Colorado Information Marketplace (CIM), Colorado’s open data platform, in a useful format (e.g., machine readable, and with meta data for context). The Go Code data team is knowledgeable about which data and resources are available, so reach out to them. When you register for Challenge Weekend, you get access to the Go Code Colorado’s workspace on #Slack. You can use the #data channel to ask questions (confidential or not) of the data team. You can also email the data team. The data team will also be available during Challenge Weekend at all the locations around the state.
What Else is Different in 2018?
Funny you should ask, because there is a pretty big change. In years past, as a creative solution to state fiscal rules, the Secretary of State’s Office had to procure each winner’s intellectual property (IP) for one year. No more! Now Go Code can operate more like a traditional competition with a more traditional cash award. We still expect you to use the money to further your product, but we don’t need the same level of complex contracting to get it done.
Each team can still form a business entity, and we recommend you strongly consider it as an option. If you’re going to continue on with your idea, this is important from liability, tax and other perspectives. Fear not, we have the resources to help you make that decision and form that business entity.
But, wait, there’s more! Do you want to develop an open source product? Yes, new for 2018, you can! The procurement requirement prevented this in the past, but this year, you can go for it—open source away!
Last night at our Kick-off Event, we had some great speakers, so we wanted to share a few juicy quotes about why they’re such die-hard Go Code Colorado supporters.
Brian Watson, Proximity Space , Grand Junction
“In Grand Junction, we’re really trying to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem for Western Colorado, and Go Code is a great catalyst for that. There were no tech or start-up events before Go Code. Now there are thousands of members participating in the tech, start- up and entrepreneurial community because of Go Code. We started a co-working space and a software development company that helps manage co-working spaces. It all came out of Go Code. It’s free—the space, the time, the mentorship, the food and the beer—it’s great!”
Chris Coleman, Faculty Innovation Fellow for Project X-ite, University of Denver
“I use public data in my own artwork. I have had to deal with awesome data sources with great APIs and those with 1-gig PDFs of scanned documents that have to be OCR’d, so I’m super excited about Colorado’s efforts to make data accessible and then to have people like you really engage in and unpack that data to reveal the needle in the haystack.”
Shawn Meek, Professor of Communication and Design, Metropolitan State University
“I want to get students involved. I’ve seen what happens when students link up with professionals and put themselves in uncomfortable situations and solve problems. Beyond competing, beyond outcomes, it’s all about networking. I have many students that are interested in partnering up with UX, UI and front end. Talk to me. I can help and can connect you with my students.”
Michelle Parvinrouh, Peak Start Up, Colorado Springs
“For all of us that represent maybe a smaller, less-known community, it’s nice to have this experience where the spotlight is shined on you, and where you’re equally represented. We’ve had a winning team three out of the four years. It’s been great for the community. It’s been great for pride. It’s been great to say, hey, here’s this thing. Entrepreneurship matters! How do you get engineers in here and connect them with marketers, and how do you make something that works, that’s real, that can make your community better and make your economy better? We love Go Code, and as long as it exists, we’ll have it down in the Springs.”
Big Thanks to our Partners!
You’ve heard it before, and we’ll say it again, Go Code Colorado is free! And, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office and its posse of amazing partners works hard to ensure Go Code stays completely free. Sponsors offer in-kind services, and access to tools and expertise for participants to make the competition a great experience. Our current sponsors and community partners include:
We will continue to add sponsors right up through Challenge Weekend. Are you interested in joining us? If so, please send an email to Go Code organizer, Heather Stafford.
And, Finally—Introducing, the Go Code Scavenger Hunt!
To help you understand what kind of data is out there and get your creative juices flowing, we’ve started the official Go Code Colorado Scavenger Hunt. Watch our social media channels for questions. Mine the public data for the answers and you could win some fun prizes.
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