I really just did this on a whim. I bumped into my friend Peter at an event not long ago and he described how he was organizing hackathons but for marketers. A little banter and I was signed up; and last weekend it all happened. The basic format of a StrategyHack looks like this:
Startups apply to have their strategy hacked. Be it their launch for a new feature or product, a PR campaign, branding, or a general triage of their overall approach. Marketers apply for a chance to put their skills hacking away at the startups. Everyone show up in the same place at the same time (in our case it was the Stackexchange HQ down near Wall St.), people are divided up into teams 4 or 5 marketers per startup and everyone gets down to business. The day ends with each team giving a slide deck presentation of their work over the course of the day.
Our group was paired up with a young TechStars alum whose startup is based around a “smart trench,” a stylish trenchcoat with built in Wi-fi, mobile device charging, and other sensor technology. Sort of a James Bond (or Archer) garment for the stylish techie gentleman or lady.
If you’re feeling cynical about the idea, well, we were too. Our team took half the day dissecting the concept and challenging the founder to explain the decisions he made, and how he arrived at his feature set, justified his BOM costs (that’s still a mystery to me, actually), and so forth. It was a little grueling but it was also super fun.
The second half of our day was building up our presentation and pinning down our ideas in a way we could share with the group. In the end what we arrived at was a coherent high-level overview of what the product is, who the market will be, and why there’s a need.
I’m not going to try and claim we rocked this young entrepreneur’s world with our strategy savantism necessarily, but he insists he got quite a lot out of it. I got on the phone with him later in the week following to just see if he had other reflections. I still don’t know if he felt he got his $650 worth, but I do know I got my $25 worth, to be sure.