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Hacking, Gangnam Style

Nov 01, 2012

3 months in, living in Seoul, South Korea means that I experience new and unexpected things everyday. One of those "unexpected things" has been the small, but vibrant start-up community clustered in Seoul. It is full of passionate entrepreneurs, and I haven't met a single person that hasn't gone out of their way to help me get plugged into the community here. I instantly felt welcome and 'in my element' as soon as I began to meet people in this community. Entrepreneurs have so much in common.

I had privilege of an invitation to the an in-company hackathon at Zoyi (previously Adbyme) on Monday and Tuesday this week located near COEX(site of the 2010 G20 Summit). Everyone at Zoyi welcomed me to the event with open arms despite the fact that I can't speak Korean. My attempts to use Google Translate failed miserably, but luckily everyone was willing to communicate in English instead.

We formed into 3 groups of six or so, with my particular team consisting of a PM, two biz devs, two designers and myself on development. We decided to work on an idea I had pitched that centered around using the Coo.ki payment platform currently being developed by Zoyi.

The concept, called 3Bullets , was to allow people to post a question or request requiring a simplified summary or answer. The question would have a "bounty" consisting of Coo.ki chips that would be paid to the top response. Each question has a specified expiration, much like an ebay auction.

For example, instead of digging through hundreds of product reviews on Amazon to figure out what the top sets of headphones might be, instead, post a question due to expire within 12 hours, and get 3 recommendations from each of the responders. Your vote along with other interested users help determine which response ultimately gets the payout.

We started at about 3PM on Monday and had a working product ready for launch by 6PM on Tuesday. It was a fun experience for me for a number of reasons.

It was fun to work on my own product idea

I have mostly been working by myself on freelance projects for the last couple of months.

Undisciplined, pure hacking

Sometimes it's fun to throw TDD by the wayside and just solve a problem as fast as you can. Going from 0 to finish on an MVP in 24 hours felt empowering and a bit like letting it might feel to give loose reins to a young horse. It was fun to fly through coding with little fear of breaking something. It was fun to look at the git logs later and see that I had committed 2500 lines of code in the past 24 hours :)

Design-driven development.

A lot of my current projects have been more backend focused, with less emphasis on the user interface. This project was driven by a full design cycle complete with wireframes and mockups by our designer, Nicole (awesome design by the way!). It was to be in the user's shoes for most of the development process. Entrepreneurship is just beginning to reach an inflection point here in Seoul, but based off of all the wonderful, passionate people that I have met so far here in the startup scene, I think the Korean startup scene has a bright future.

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