Seattle Startup Weekend 2012

As many of you know, I’ve got tons of ideas for apps, software companies, and who knows what else sitting in any number of sketchbooks around this office. But I’ve never had the means to bring any of them to life. Being an art director, I’ve got a good handle on design, but no idea how to write code, develop software, or create something that’s actually usable for you, the end user. So it’s really frustrating to have all of these ideas, and just sit on them. I’d actually thought about just putting them out on my blog for someone to take and do something with, so at least they’d be out there. 

Then, two things happened this week that may have changed my fortunes for the immediate future. 

First, I went to check out the Pioneer Square coworking space The Hub (@hubsea). I met with Justin Knechtel (@justinknechtel), founder of the Northwest Freelancers Assocation. We had coffee, chatted business, and his plans for NWFA. It’s a great idea, and it’s really what I feel AIGA Seattle should be doing. I told him to let me know how I could help, and I’m looking forward to chipping in to develop that organization in the very near future. He then took me up to The Hub, a “protoHub” space while they build out and eventually move into the old Elliot Bay Bookstore space. I met with the founder, Brian Howe, and got a great vibe from the space. It’s wide open, gets lots of light, and will have a great view the the viaduct gets torn down.

Brian told me about Seattle Startup Weekend, which is a weekend-long experience where entrepreneurs, budding entrepreneurs, developers, and designers get together to pitch startup ideas, see if those ideas are viable, and build startup companies in the span of 54 hours. From scratch. Here’s a video from the Startup Weekend website that gives you a peek into the process: 

That looks absolutely terrifying, right? Of course, my interest was piqued, especially since the theme for this weekend is “Rise of the Designers”, and I happen to be exactly that. Brian had one comp pass remaining, would I perhaps be interested in it? Why yes, Brian, I would. 

Secondly, this morning I got up at the unTebowly hour of 7:00 am to make my way to South Lake Union for Creative Mornings (@Seattle_CM), a monthly breakfast lecture series for creatives. I was especially interested in this talk because Jenny Lam (@helveticagirl), was speaking. She’s the designer and co-founder of Jackson Fish Market, a Seattle agency and startup responsible for, among other things, A Story Before Bed (http://www.astorybeforebed.com/), a service that allows you to read and record children’s books for the PC, Mac and iPad. Jenny was a designer at “a small software company in Redmond” before she left to start her own company.

Jenny talked about a number of very popular startups that were started by designers, such as Pinterest, Instagram, Foodspotting, 37signals, and Design Commission, and declared startup companies “to be the biggest opportunity for designers” in the coming year. She talked about how she wound up where she is, and why she started out on her own, and a lot of it sounded very similar to the reasons why I decided to stop looking for jobs, and start being a business. Maybe it would be more appropriate to start referring to myself as a startup also. She’s also going to be a judge at Startup Weekend this weekend, and I’m hoping I get a chance to chat with her a bit.

This year, I’m all about making things happen. Stop talking about shit, and start doing shit. Part of that is taking advantage of the opportunities placed in front of me, and cultivating resources and relationships so that I can make those things happen. I’m terrified of walking into this Startup Weekend thing, and I almost slept through the Creative Mornings talk this morning. The old Dwight would’ve bailed on both. The new Dwight is jumping in with both feet. We’ll see how I look on Sunday. 

See you in (roughly) 60 hours.

Dwight Battle

Studio Battle, 9410 35th Ave SW #A, Seattle, WA 98126, USA

Dwight Battle is an award-winning independent art director specializing in mobile and digital design, branding, and creative direction. Dwight has been an art director and designer for over twelve years, and have worked with a variety of clients in a variety of stages of growth, from Fortune 500 companies to small family businesses, and from established companies to early-stage startups.