Richard Bucker

Startups, Incubators, and Hackathons are Evil!

Posted at — Mar 31, 2012

I want to build my own startup!I remember a conversation I had with my father about 30+ years ago. He was recently retired for the second time when we were talking about potential businesses. There was a time when he was the president of his own company and I always thought that when he retired I would take over. Anyway that was the message in the media in the 70s. Now it was time for a new future. As we discussed businesses he mentioned that over 90% of all new businesses fail.Shit… what was I going to do now? (if I had to do it all over again I would have minored in computer science instead of majored)I don’t know what the numbers are today but I cannot imagine that they are any better. And let’s be specific… the percentage of tech startups that succeed has got to be lower that that.I want to be at a hackathon!Until I decided to include hackathon in this article I had no real idea what it was. Some weeks ago I wrote about the social aspects of hackathons and the hiring process. I don’t think anything new or interesting is here. Frankly why would I want to sit around a table with a number of programmers etc… working on some idea that some else may or will cash in on. This is akin to the programming challenge and if you’ve read anything I’ve written then you know how I feel about that.Hackathons are a way for employers or projects to get some concentrated and potentially high powered thinkers in a room to solve difficult problems. What happens to the results are anyones guess. They are also a way for companies to audition potential employees. And for junior programmers to leapfrog the apprentice process.I want to be accepted by the next incubator class!I have a great idea. If I can get some VC money it will totally disrupt a $100B market in the US. The problems here are serious.  First of all it’s $100B dollars. Once I start to pitch VCs it’s going to be a race to market. Patents or not it’s going to be about who delivered. Everyone else is going to be in court trying to figure it out for the next 100 years and in the meantime I’m standing in breadlines.And if the incubator takes me on the first pass… then there is the huge chunk that I have to forego as compensation. Not to mention that’s when the Silicon Valley types start to insist that I have ping pong and foosball tables… and ask interview questions that have programming challenges.The real question?How does one become the 10 or 15% successful startups, that did not have to trick or social engineer it’s way into prominence, and did not give up too much of it’s equity…. and famously do no evil … in the process?PSI really do have a $100B-USD disruptive idea.