Guest blog by Siddhartha Chaturvedi from Microsoft Independent Software Vendor team at Microsoft UK
A few weeks ago, we held the Imagine Cup 2017, UK Finals – and what a day it was! We saw a bunch of amazing ideas – which I shall keep embargoed till they do the final pitch this July in Seattle – but the experience for me was more about the people behind the ideas, the way they thought – solving problems in creative ways, sometimes stuff that we are isolated from, and never think about, but use daily.
While this was a primarily a technology focused event – where you had to build some bit of technology to do something, it transcended a pure technological conversation – to talking about tackling the biases, the present socio-economic scenarios, an understanding of the millennials and the markets of the future.
I was inspired at many levels – both from the participants and my colleagues who organized this, and there were ideas that made me think about the way we think about solutions in today’s world.
Personally speaking, it allowed me to follow a team that took part in a hackathon earlier this year, didn’t end up in the top 3, pulled themselves together, took some of the advice that the Microsoft Student Partner’s gave them – and came back stronger than ever. The transformation was heartening to see. They did end up winning the UK Finals. For me it spoke about perseverance and determination, and truly treating every step as a learning experience.
While the hacks and such events are great singular experiences, there is also an underlying constant feedback loop that we have, to keep learning, building and partnering with other people who we share our vision with. Be they Accelerators, Student partners, Universities or enthusiasts – there are multiple parts of the ecosystem that work together to make amazing stuff happen.
That said I have some small bits of advice for the contestants (in case you’re reading this):
- Know who you’re presenting to – every single pitch you do, will be slightly different – and build a MotivationGraph – and how your product addresses that Motivation. (if you want to know how I personally use a MotivationGraph – please feel free to reach out to me)
- Break your model. Fix It. Break it again. That’s better than the judges breaking them for you in the finals.
- Be passionate but be open to pivoting. Too much of an emotional investment could sometimes cause you to look for only positives.
- Talk to people. Plan a proof of concept. Or better still – do it. It may not have to be the way your product will work, but still gives you an idea if it would work.
It’s been an absolute honour to be working with the person who organized this – Emily Byle. Her tenacity, creative thinking, and the appetite for trying something new, has been refreshing. Thank you, Emily, for this opportunity an good luck to the finalist who will be representing the UK in Seattle at the World Wide Finals in July.