So instead of wasting this Saturday on sleeping and lazing around, I hauled my backside over to the E27 Unconference at Biopolis in Singapore. This was my first time and I was curious to find out how such unconferences worked. I liked the general casualness of the whole affair – pretty good food, swag, Guitar Hero contests and a lot of young guys building cool products.
A lot of the products on display were very impressive and I was fortunate enough to talk to the guys behind them and it’s very inspiring to see guys going the extra mile to solve everyday problems. Here are some tidbits:
The Good Parts
- gothere.sg : Easily my favorite product at E27 because it is so useful. gothere.sg is built on web.py, jQuery and is hosted at slicehost.
- homespace.sg : Another very useful web-app (not for me particularly, but I can see it being used widely). This one is built on Ruby On Rails, Prototype and a sprinkling of Flash.
- widgeo.us : I still haven’t got the concept yet, but from what was demoed it seemed an intriguingly good idea. Couldn’t get a chance to speak to the guys behind it, but would really like to know what they use to power instant messaging.
- qweki.com : Another slightly confusing product, but from what I understood it is a service along the lines of Mahalo (customized search results). On the negative side, it had a pretty bad UI.
- podfire.sg : Didn’t know there was a video podcasting network in Singapore and even though the current crop of shows is very limited (and doesn’t really appeal to me) I will keep an eye out for interesting ones in future.
- Preetam Rai’s talk on startups in emerging countries : I thought it was very interesting and the discussions/arguments which followed were edgy and almost worth the admission fee.
The Bad Parts
- The Microsoft Keynote : Don’t get me wrong, the talk did have some interesting view points. What bugged me was how the speaker was using it as a platform to promote Microsoft products. This, despite the fact that Microsoft are clearly late-comers in realizing the value of the so-called trends that he discussed – user experience, collaboration and cloud-computing.
- More Rockstars, Less Groupies : I would definitely have liked to see more ideas and products. Even if there isn’t a monetization plan, a business plan and an exit strategy, people should be encouraged to build stuff anyway and worry about making money later. The E27 event is definitely a big step in the right direction, but at certain points during the event, I got the feeling that the enthusiasm and bubbli-ness was forced. The guys building stuff must be leading the discussion, not the VCs, the angels and the government.
Overall, I had a great time and I will definitely be there next year.