Please welcome this week's guest blogger; Gerald Kimber White, Senior Managing Director at RF|Binder. Gerald was assigned to Uncharted Play during the MITX Up Hackathon, who recently developed the SOCCKET Ball. Learn more about this innovative product in this article from Co.EXIST!
Last week, I was scheduled to participate in the latest MITX UP “hackathon” but when Wednesday evening rolled around and I ran through my mental “to do” list – preparing for two new business pitches, our agency’s annual meeting in New York, this week’s SXSWedu in Austin, etc. – part of me felt I should skip it and stay focused on my other obligations. As much as I love going to the hackathons, there was simply no way to get it all in. Fortunately, the selfish side of me that loves the hackathon experience overwhelmed the clock-watching side of me and I went to the Harvard Innovation Lab to meet another startup.
I was particularly looking forward to this hackathon since the startup I was assigned was Uncharted Play, a company that has developed a soccer ball that somehow manages to incorporate a power generator inside an almost perfectly standard size and weight ball. The generator converts the kinetic energy from play into electricity that can be stored to power an LED light (with plans to increase the output to be able to charge cell phones, water purifiers, etc.). The SOCCKET ball is designed for communities in developing countries for whom power supply is inconsistent or non-existent. Basically, SOCCKET combines two of my biggest passions – economic and social development and soccer – in a business model.
MITX’s Debi Kleiman and Harvard iLab’s Jodi Goldstein kicked off the hackathon after we had eaten our fill of pizza and we broke into our group to better understand SOCCKET, its business and its marketing challenges. As usual, our group’s mix of “hackers” was diverse, drawing from different marketing disciplines and levels of experience, and as usual the mix facilitated a dynamic discussion that allowed us to quickly agree on the key challenges facing the company (even if we didn’t necessarily always agree on what the best solutions were – we left the executives to figure out which solutions were best for them =) ).
I have grown to love the MITX UP hackathons for the opportunity they represent to regularly connect with great marketing peers in Boston, to meet incredibly brilliant entrepreneurs, and basically have fun. So much of our day-to-day work as marketers consists of some strategy and a lot of tactical execution. The hackathons are like play time for marketers – you have an opportunity to spend some time in the strategic part of your brain, solving an interesting business challenge in an energetic environment with a bunch of whip-smart people. I always leave the hackathons with new ideas for my own clients and a renewed sense of excitement about what I’m doing day-to-day.
I highly recommend everyone reading this find a way to attend an upcoming hackathon. I promise it will be worth your time and you will leave invigorated and inspired. You’ll be contributing to the success of the next generation of great Boston startups and have a blast doing it. So put that “to do” list aside and take some time for yourself. I know I’m glad I did.