What a fantastic weekend at the second Bay Of Plenty Mashup competition. I spent the entire weekend at the competition talking to teams, mentors, parents and anyone who decided to pop in and see what it was all about.
Everyone commented on what a great event it was and what a fantastic learning experience for students.
I think everyone, including the teams, was impressed by the level of hard work and professionalism from the entrants. I think we could clearly see that they also got a lot of enjoyment and as one young man put it - "was the best day of my life".
The Mashup competition is not all about coding and like last year there was an emphasis on business planning team work and marketing, it’s one thing to write code and other to turn it into a commercial success.
A lot of the points and a lot of the judging panel’s impressions of a team are based on the final presentations - when the teams have to bring it all together.
This is surprisingly real world with some painful lessons. Lessons we hope these young people learn now and thus have an advantage later on.
For me personally, this was heart breaking as I saw some teams who had worked so hard over the weekend to overcome problems and put their nose to the grindstone, fall at this point.
The most common cause to the eyes of us judges was that they had not prepared. We do not know why, possibly they ran out of time or they felt confident. In the real world too this can be disastrous.
We had some teams back from last year, and for most doing it a second time around gave them an advantage.
Two teams I expected to do well did not. The first presentation left me unable to tell what had actually been presented and the second was too vague it had no clear market.
I know we were hard to please, but when you consider the work being put forward you have to be to try and fine a winner. Something, which will get harder as the organisers provide feedback to teams.
You can see the lists of winning teams on the Mashup site. But I want to give a shout out for those teams who impressed me during the weekend, but did not win.
Whakamashers- always working and had to overcome a weakness in the code, they did and it showed they made good use of the mentors. I expect to see them back and stronger.
Ten Teds found their initial approach faced some major obstacles and found ways around it. Their pitfall in my mind was a lack of focus and process. Sometimes a small tight team works best.
The team of two - Spartans- had a lot of extra work to do to cover the distance. My advice is to start looking for additional members for next year to cover the marketing side. Pretty sure you will be in it to win.
Qwerty- where my highest scoring team who did not make a finalist prize. Some of the guys where back for a second time and I hope they will come back for a third, with an even tighter focus.
This year as with last we had mentors to help the teams, this year we had more and not just coders we had marketing and business people helping out, it showed in the overall level, which the teams achieved. And yes the mentors do just mentor, organiser Bruce Fraser and the judges are very clear on this.
I want to say a big personal thank you to everyone who again or for the first time, gave up time at their weekend to make this event so special.
I want to thank all the sponsors for their kindness and their belief in our young people.
Last year we had a surprise prize paid in by someone who was mightily impressed with the hard work and dedication of the teams.
This year too we had a last minute prize donated by the guys at Reserve Group after they had walked around and witnessed what was going on.
As ever a lot has been learned and things will change for the next one. Judging for one will get harder again as teams return with more knowledge and more skill.
In the background over the next year, teams from the Mashup and the IdeaShed will start to work with schools in the region to provide better access to the very skills, which will lift the competition.
As John Cronin from the Regional Council said after attending - "I feel confident for the future of New Zealand.”