Washington DC had it’s first Startup Weekend event two weeks ago drawing a crowd of about 70 techies. The idea behind startup weekend is for a group of people to get together, conceive, build, and launch an Internet business in under 72 hours. The only thing more stressful than executing a new idea in such a short period of time is managing such a large group of random people. I didn’t have the pleasure of attending but I did follow along via the official blog and twitter posts from friends that attended.
The group settled on an idea about a social network for communities, later dubbed HolaNeighbor.com. The site is meant to help people plan events, share important information, meet the neighbors, and generally be a better member of the local community. It has been more than a week since the site launched and it is still far from even a proof of concept.
So far Helo Neighbor is a Google Maps mashup. You can search for communities by zip code which displays the location on a Google map with an exclamation point as a marker. Clicking on the marker lets you check out the community which only includes a list of members and three crude options: name of founder, public or private, and invite or open. There is also the capability to upload photos though there is nothing taking advantage of this feature yet.
The idea is half baked at best. I imagine there must have been way more ideas during the pitch of this business proposition to keep the team excited about this. I don’t see any advantage of launching HelloNeighbor as a standalone site. In hindsight it would have made much more sense to build on top of an existing social network like Facebook. By making this product a Facebook app the team could spend more time working on the features instead of building up the basic infrastructure like the sign up process and user management. As the site stands now, users are better off creating a group on Facebook to keep in touch with local events.
I hope the gang had fun, because the end result certainly falls flat.