Why I Didn’t Like The Colombo Hakcathon.

Winklevosse Twins

The first ever Colombo hackathon is now over. I first read about the hackathon from indi’s blog post about the event, at first I was really excited about the event because I’m a fan of start-up culture, a thing that is lagging in Sri Lanka. However that only lasted until I heard about the financial backing of the event and the idea behind the event.

I followed the hackathon very closely from the beginning, I know you can’t organize such an event without financial backing, however the hackathon was presented as a non-profit event organized to encourage people in building their own start-ups. There were no mention about the VCs behind it even at the hackathon website. It was only from a blog post by indi I got to read the people behind the event and the idea behind it.

There’s also an exit, ie, you can cash out, theoretically. Venture Engine is looking for business proposals which get polished and put in front of actual investors,including the Indian Angel Network.

Yes, I know you can’t start a start-up by yourself, you need funding, money and the people to work with, and you can’t build a start-up without telling your idea to anyone. But, there is a right time to tell your idea to the world, and you have to be very careful when you present it to investors.

Facebook beat MySapace down under, but one must not forget about the start of Facebook, it was the Winklevoss twins gave Mark Zuckerberg their idea about making a social network, and asked Mark to help with the twins’ project. Mark Zuckergerg stole that idea and used it to make Facebook. The Winklevoss twins told their idea at to the wrong person at the wrong time, and the end result was disaster for the Winklevoss twins. If Winlkevoss twins didn’t tell their idea to someone line Mark Zuckerberg and go on to build a social network? The outcome might have been different.

That’s why people need to think twice when revealing their ideas to someone, and the hackathon is not a good place to reveal your ideas with investors around, putting up the idea to a start-up is  then going for VC is better in my opinion than showing the idea to everyone. There is a clear difference between an idea and a start-up.

The way to beat an idea is to come up with a better idea. But, once you are up and running it’s harder even for a better idea to beat you. This is why no matter how good  Google+ is it still can’t beat Facebook, because Facebook is up and running and it’s hard to take the people away from Facebook.

Can you build a start-up with in 36 hours? No, what you can build is an idea and a business model. And revealing your to everyone, especially to investors is not a good thing. So what guarantee is there for the start-ups that their ideas won’t be stolen? There is no such guarantee that your idea won’t be stolen and used to build something better that your idea.

However, it’s too early to comment right now without knowing what happened to the start-ups. May be I might be wrong, but I’m not the only one with this opinion. For now I’m not a supporter for this hackathon.


This is the whole point about writing this post. . “You need to commit to it and execute”  that’s right but if you reveal your idea to the everyone even before starting it then, someone else will steal your idea and you’ll end up as a Winklevoss twin.


I think most people have missed my point in this post, I never said anyone to work in isolation, or not to get feedback from others or not to collect funding for their projects. All I said was the time and place (cmbhackathon) is not right for an idea to be presented to everyone. Do you need a hackathon to present your idea? can’t you find like minded people without coming to a hackathon. After all an idea is an idea. 

And ipv10’s comment also makes a valid point I missed before :

If the people who went to hackathon are thinking that you did something awesome, why couldn’t you do it before? Without getting excited, just relax and think.  – ipv10

Post Colombo Hackathon post at RandomCoding : http://randomcoding.com/2012/03/working-in-a-vacuum/

Indi’s blog post about the hackathon : http://indi.ca/2012/03/colombo-hackathon-cmbhackathon/


8 thoughts on “Why I Didn’t Like The Colombo Hakcathon.

  1. Interesting viewpoint and I agree with your point in principle. You don’t want to reveal your intentions too soon. Don’t let everyone see the ‘secret sauce’ that makes your idea the killer one.

    But in the example you bought up, the situation they were in could not be avoided at all. They didn’t know tech, they hired a contractor, the contractor built upon the idea and ran with it. How could they have avoided the situation? They could have hired someone else, but then your point would be invalidated because we can conclude that this happened because Zukerburg was less than forthcoming and that this had nothing to do with startup culture or funding.

    • Thanks for the comment. Yes that’s true anyone can steal your idea and walk away with it,partly the blame has to go to the twins, they should have had a tighter grip on Mark.

      However one must think twice to whom they are sharing their ideas. An idea and a start-up are two different things.

  2. Ideas are worthless unless executed well. Its all about delivery. Most first time entrepreneurs are so protective about their ideas, they never get anywhere. Stop being paranoid and start building. By speaking to others, you get free consultancy to fine tune what you are building, and this will help you to find cofounders. The days of strategising for months and even years before you start building is long gone! Your fear of others stealing your idea is the worst enemy. Your No. 1 competition is you!

    • “Ideas are worthless unless executed well. Its all about delivery.” yes point taken, but do you need a hackathon to do it?

      @ipv10 gave the answer for it : “If the people who went to hackathon are thinking that you did something awesome, why couldn’t you do it before?”

  3. I totally agree with you Rukshan. You’re right. In 36 hours, you can’t build a start up. But you can give ideas.

    If the people who went to hackathon are thinking that you did something awesome, why couldn’t you do it before? Without getting excited, just relax and think. If you have any better ideas, work out by yourself. We are not living in a era which we don’t get anything. Now we have every resource to work out our ideas on our own.

    At the beginning you won’t be able to touch the sky, But everything starts with small steps. Just don’t give away your bright ideas to someone who wants to make profit at your own expenses. This is just my thought on Colombo hackathon.

    • “If the people who went to hackathon are thinking that you did something awesome, why couldn’t you do it before?”

      Now why didn’t I think of that before 😀

  4. Pingback: Do Start-ups Really Cost You Money? Money Vs Ideas. | Outcast Life

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