Hackers gathered at Geekdom Friday night to socialize, listen to a speaker and build stuff.
About 50 people attended Start-up Ignite’s second all night Hack-a-thon in downtown San Antonio.
The event kicked off at 7 p.m. with pizza and soda and socializing, followed by a candid presentation from start-up entrepreneur Vid Luther, CEO of ZippyKid.
Luther launched ZippyKid, a wordpress hosting site, in May of 2010, with three customers. He received his first round of angel funding this past April. ZippyKid now has more than 1,000 customers and Luther’s hired four employees.
ZippyKid just turned profitable, Luther said.
Luther told the crowd that he didn’t have a clue what he was doing when he started the company. In fact, he just did it as a hobby at first. He helped people with their WordPress sites during his spare time, while working a full time job for Pear Analytics. But he soon realized the value in providing personalized service to people who have WordPress blogs.
“I could charge $100 to fix a problem that took me five minutes to fix,” Luther said.
Some larger hosting sites didn’t always have time to provide the best help to non-technical WordPress bloggers, and that’s where Luther found his opportunity.
Luther encouraged the crowd to try their own ventures. He tried several other ventures and had some great ideas that didn’t pan out before he found success with ZippyKid. He attracted his angel funding through a blog post he did explaining his vision for the site.
ZippyKid competes with other WordPress specialization sites like WPEngine in Austin. But ZippyKid focuses on non-technical customers, Luther said. Since launching, ZippyKid has lost only 11 customers and half of those went out of business, Luther said.
Following Luther’s talk, the crowd dispersed and began working on their laptops in small groups.
Stephen Young, Igor Gregorio and Daniel Semmens created Start-up Ignite because they wanted to work with other like-minded people.
San Antonio lacked a catalyst to bring together its technology community, Gregorio said.
“We heard that there were more and more people in San Antonio doing start-ups but none of them were connected,” Young said.
A few people came from Houston and Austin to attend the event, Semmens said
“The focus is on getting things done and helping people,” Semmens said.
Building a strong community of people working on start-ups only helps make the existing start-ups stronger, said Young.
Young and Gregorio travelled to San Francisco earlier this year and when they hopped in a cab, the cab driver asked them if they ran a start-up and asked them for their pitch. Then he gave them his pitch. They want to see that pervasive entrepreneurial spirit in San Antonio, Young said.
“It’s possible,” he said
The next Start-up Ignite Hack-a-thon is Dec. 9th and features Dirk Elmendorf, co-founder of Rackspace, as its guest speaker. They have 100 people on the Start-up Ignite mailing list and they’re hoping to attract even more as word of mouth about the events spread, Semmens said.
“Bring what you have and come and work around like minded people,” he said.
Niyolab CEO Toyin Akinmusuru travelled from Austin for the event. He’s also co-founder of HubAustin, a co-working space on South Congress Avenue. He was seeking feedback on his new venture, Niyobooks, an online customized children’s book site for families.
“This is the perfect environment for people to come and get feedback,” said Gregorio.
Dan Stuckey attended 3 Day Startup last weekend and learned about Startup Ignite’s Hack-a-thon there. So he showed up Friday night to work on a new idea.
“This is the perfect place to meet people who code,” Stuckey said. “Coders are like the golden Unicorns. They’re hard to find.”
Tim Peters, president of MartFlash.com, an e-commerce site, that he plans to launch within 18 months, attended the event to look for talent for his new venture.
“The next step is putting together a team,” he said. He’s looking for 5 people and he found some potential employees at the event.