Friday, February 11, 2011

Melbourne Azure BizSpark Startup Camp

Congratulation to the team at Rome2Rio for taking top honours at the Melbourne Azure BizSpark Startup Camp and winning first prize -- I am sure those Windows 7 Phones will come in handy when you are realising your mobile strategy, and Pavel Chuchuva's mobile version of your site created for the competition was a testament to your existing API.

I was very lucky to attend this event as my BizSpark membership was only approved on Thursday, the day before the event started; thanks again to Catherine Eibner for expediting my approval.

The Windows Azure platform is so comprehensive that after Friday's technical presentations I had to talk myself down from trying to implement something that used NoSQL Table/Blob Storage, Background Worker Processes and Queues, all of which were described in tantalising detail by Graham Elliot who also gave us a sneak peek at features that are still in CTP, like Federated Identity.  All this information really helped get my creative juices flowing for what I might achieve over the next couple of days, and I have never taken so many notes in all my life!

I did have a little bit of a head-start having read some of Programming Windows Azure, and having used Windows Azure Compute and SQL Azure as a staging environment for a previous project, but the presentations provided so much more context that they were much more worthwhile than any book or article I have read.

Coming up with an idea on Friday and implementing it over the following 2 days was challenging, but very rewarding, as there is nothing like green fields development to keep you motivated.  The co-working atmosphere was great and the assistance provided by Steve Nagy and David Burela was indispensable in keeping the flow of development happening.

I feel like I bombed in the practice presentation, but the advice the "pre-presentation" judges gave me helped me tighten up my pitch which I think helped immeasurably, allowing me to be one of 2 runner-up prize winners alongside TrendFrendz.  This was a total surprise as there were so many great and varied presentations; I am so glad that my presentation was first and I did not have to follow the other killer presentations.

Overall, this was a great experience to meet and work alongside some great startups and I would highly recommend getting along to any BizSpark Startup Camps that are running in your area, or even flying in from another state like the guys from Mexia!

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