“Inspiring,” “visionary,” “challenging,” “high-velocity,” and, simply, “dope” are some of the adjectives Go Code Colorado finalists used to describe their Mentor Weekend experience. When the ten finalist teams were chosen at Challenge Weekend, each was given the opportunity to participate in the incredible (and incredibly-intense) Mentor Weekend in Boulder, April 27 – 29. In addition to the Mentor Weekend experience, each finalist team also receives $2,500 to help move their idea forward. Go Code Colorado and its fantastic partners hosted the teams for Mentor Weekend, and dozens of experienced professionals gave their time as mentors, offering teams a dizzying array of activities designed to get that motor running and humming along all the way to the Final Competition Event (RSVP to attend!).
Mentor Weekend is like a micro-accelerator for the finalist teams with how-to-build-a-product guidance from people with direct experience envisioning products and building successful teams and businesses. The weekend in Boulder kicked off mid-day Friday at Twitter, where teams enjoyed a panel presentation about engineering, data science and marketing, and got to tour the offices in which so much Twitter magic happens. That evening Google Boulder hosted a reception celebrating the finalist teams with networking and even some early mentoring, fueled by the inspiring surroundings of Google’s brand-new digs.
Saturday morning got underway early at CA Technologies with some sage advice from our host and scrum master pro Jeff Ditillo. James Capps and a group of brilliant minds with House of Genius offered teams the collaborative “genius” method by questioning, suggesting and providing insights. Each team spent nearly an hour with their House of Genius panel getting help on one big thing in the way of their success.
Early Saturday afternoon dozens of mentors arrived to impart their wisdom and help move the teams forward. Mentors fell into several different categories. Basically, everything you need to build a product and successfully bring it to market.
- Data Scientists/Analysts help teams find and use data to answer questions and deliver information, while also providing a sounding board for methodology in analysis.
- Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters deliver hands-on coaching in scrum, kanban and lean project management processes.
- Senior Developers have experience in a variety of common languages and provide strategic technical help.
- Marketing Pros help teams build a compelling story that will resonate with the end-users of the product they are developing.
- Startup Veterans advise the teams on the hard truth about which ideas are relevant, solve a problem and have a market, and which ideas don’t.
- Business Community Members provide context to teams to help keep them focused on providing value to Colorado businesses.
- Legal Pros provide input on issues like intellectual property, privacy and user terms of service issues, as well as business formation.
After an intense day of one-on-one mentorship, the teams enjoyed pitching and presentation advice from Boomtown Accelerator’s Erin Stadler on Saturday evening.
Sunday started early again with a workshop from John Maxwell Certified coaches Nancy and Bob Kittridge, who provided the teams with a framework and strategies for how to relate and communicate with team members. The weekend wrapped up with each team running through their pitch presentation and receiving valuable feedback from the wealth of experience and talent on hand.
We think one participant described Mentor Weekend beautifully, with the phrase, “humans at their finest” working together toward a common goal of turning public data into business insights.