The Silicon Valley is hacking away.
"I was an engineer by training. I like building things, and marketplaces are hard to get right. You have two sets of customers, and that makes it more than twice as challenging. Their incentives and what they want from the marketplace are not always aligned. The product is essentially the guardrails and rules of the marketplace. Figuring out one cohesive set that serves both sides well is really hard.
Most startups go after one vertical or service. When I joined Thumbtack, they were 20 people and they were already serving nine hundred and some service categories across the US. It wasn’t another SF thing. It wasn’t the textbook approach of get one market right and then scale, they figured out a way to let the demand guide the company where it needed to go. The engineering team is absolutely incredible. They realized early on that growth has to be product and data driven.
I would like to see Thumbtack be the destination for services the same way that Amazon today is the destination for products. I want Thumbtack to be that place where if you ever needed to hire a person to do something for you, you’d come to Thumbtack.”
Yue Zhao | Thumbtack

"I was an engineer by training. I like building things, and marketplaces are hard to get right. You have two sets of customers, and that makes it more than twice as challenging. Their incentives and what they want from the marketplace are not always aligned. The product is essentially the guardrails and rules of the marketplace. Figuring out one cohesive set that serves both sides well is really hard.

Most startups go after one vertical or service. When I joined Thumbtack, they were 20 people and they were already serving nine hundred and some service categories across the US. It wasn’t another SF thing. It wasn’t the textbook approach of get one market right and then scale, they figured out a way to let the demand guide the company where it needed to go. The engineering team is absolutely incredible. They realized early on that growth has to be product and data driven.

I would like to see Thumbtack be the destination for services the same way that Amazon today is the destination for products. I want Thumbtack to be that place where if you ever needed to hire a person to do something for you, you’d come to Thumbtack.”

Yue Zhao | Thumbtack

"In my eyes, hacking encompasses everything you do at a hackathon, from brainstorming to building something novel and cool, exploring possibilities you wouldn’t have otherwise and pushing your limits in the process.
My first hackathon, MHacks, took me on a 13 hour bus ride from UVA, during which time I questioned what I had gotten myself into and whether I knew enough to compete with those who had been programming for years versus my year and a half. However, once I arrived and saw a thousand students like myself, from all over the country with their respective projects and interests, I realized that I had discovered a new field in my area of study that would completely change my perspective. Programming for fun? Why hadn’t I thought of that before? 
I quickly realized that hackathons are less about how much you know going in and more about how well you can leverage the opportunity to expand your skill set and learn from your peers. For me, hackathons are about making myself learn a few small things, not necessarily to the point of proficiency, but enough to inspire myself to learn more about a subject. They’re about proving to myself that I can learn anything I set my mind to and that it’s just a matter of starting and reaching for that goal. Classes put less of an emphasis on that. 
To bring the joy of hackathons to UVA beyond the twenty of us who would attend hackathons at other schools, some friends and I organized Hack.UVA and brought the hackathon to them. Roughly 200 students showed up, which was massive for programming at UVA, and, more importantly, it it reached 200 students who otherwise would not have pursued some thought or goal, whether a fleeting idea or a useful tool for themselves. In addition to fostering learning and providing mentorship for students to help them expand their skill sets, we created a sense of community among a network of hackers who now can reach out to one another for future projects.”
Anat Gilboa

"In my eyes, hacking encompasses everything you do at a hackathon, from brainstorming to building something novel and cool, exploring possibilities you wouldn’t have otherwise and pushing your limits in the process.

My first hackathon, MHacks, took me on a 13 hour bus ride from UVA, during which time I questioned what I had gotten myself into and whether I knew enough to compete with those who had been programming for years versus my year and a half. However, once I arrived and saw a thousand students like myself, from all over the country with their respective projects and interests, I realized that I had discovered a new field in my area of study that would completely change my perspective. Programming for fun? Why hadn’t I thought of that before? 

I quickly realized that hackathons are less about how much you know going in and more about how well you can leverage the opportunity to expand your skill set and learn from your peers. For me, hackathons are about making myself learn a few small things, not necessarily to the point of proficiency, but enough to inspire myself to learn more about a subject. They’re about proving to myself that I can learn anything I set my mind to and that it’s just a matter of starting and reaching for that goal. Classes put less of an emphasis on that. 

To bring the joy of hackathons to UVA beyond the twenty of us who would attend hackathons at other schools, some friends and I organized Hack.UVA and brought the hackathon to them. Roughly 200 students showed up, which was massive for programming at UVA, and, more importantly, it it reached 200 students who otherwise would not have pursued some thought or goal, whether a fleeting idea or a useful tool for themselves. In addition to fostering learning and providing mentorship for students to help them expand their skill sets, we created a sense of community among a network of hackers who now can reach out to one another for future projects.”

Anat Gilboa

"As a child, I watched my parents work numerous odd jobs in order to have enough money to start their own small business, so I wanted to continue to have that sort of connection in college. Charlottesville has a very well-supported local small business ecosystem that I wanted to learn more about. I joined a student startup incubator the summer after my freshman year to work on implementing the idea of utilizing crowdfunding to raise capital for small businesses. One business we worked with was a local organic donut store, and with the community’s support, we were able to raise enough capital for them to purchase a new food truck to expand their operations. Starting my own company got me really interested in computer science, so I also began to attend hackathons and work on side projects to pick up new skills. Software is eating the world, so no matter what industry I decide to tackle, my technical skills will be useful."  
Jessica Lee | Secret

"As a child, I watched my parents work numerous odd jobs in order to have enough money to start their own small business, so I wanted to continue to have that sort of connection in college. Charlottesville has a very well-supported local small business ecosystem that I wanted to learn more about. I joined a student startup incubator the summer after my freshman year to work on implementing the idea of utilizing crowdfunding to raise capital for small businesses. One business we worked with was a local organic donut store, and with the community’s support, we were able to raise enough capital for them to purchase a new food truck to expand their operations. Starting my own company got me really interested in computer science, so I also began to attend hackathons and work on side projects to pick up new skills. Software is eating the world, so no matter what industry I decide to tackle, my technical skills will be useful."  

Jessica Lee | Secret

“You live in a city like San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, wherever you are, there’s so much stuff you could be doing in your free time. There are all these great restaurants, there are bars, there are shows, there are art exhibits, there are hikes you could be doing, there are weird, crazy bizarre things that only exist in your city. 
The problem is, it’s really hard to find out about it. Sosh is trying to be that for you. We’re trying to gather all the best things in the city and present what you should know about what you’d want to do. 
The beauty is, this is what excited me four years ago and I’m still hand-waving excited four years later. We haven’t solved it. We’ve come a long way, one in six people aged 20 - 40 living in San Francisco is a Sosh member, and there’s still no shortage of things we can do.”
Rod Begbie | Sosh

“You live in a city like San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, wherever you are, there’s so much stuff you could be doing in your free time. There are all these great restaurants, there are bars, there are shows, there are art exhibits, there are hikes you could be doing, there are weird, crazy bizarre things that only exist in your city. 

The problem is, it’s really hard to find out about it. Sosh is trying to be that for you. We’re trying to gather all the best things in the city and present what you should know about what you’d want to do. 

The beauty is, this is what excited me four years ago and I’m still hand-waving excited four years later. We haven’t solved it. We’ve come a long way, one in six people aged 20 - 40 living in San Francisco is a Sosh member, and there’s still no shortage of things we can do.”

Rod BegbieSosh

Tagged: #rod #begbie #sosh
"My bachelor party was almost like Hangover 3. I can’t remember much. One of our groomsmen was missing. We only found him the next day. When we woke up, we couldn’t remember anything, and we checked our Facebook, our WhatsApp, our WeChat, and we deleted everything - especially my WeChat because my wife keeps checking my WeChat. 
Not only did we have to make sure that our night disappeared on everybody’s phones, we made sure that when we returned, we’d tell the same message to our wives, our girlfriends and our finances. It’s very embarrassing. 
Interestingly enough, whenever I tell people this story, they have something similar. We need to find a way to make sure that people can enjoy the moment for the day and don’t have their histories remembered on social media. That’s why Sobrr comes to the stage.”
Bruce Yang | Sobrr

"My bachelor party was almost like Hangover 3. I can’t remember much. One of our groomsmen was missing. We only found him the next day. When we woke up, we couldn’t remember anything, and we checked our Facebook, our WhatsApp, our WeChat, and we deleted everything - especially my WeChat because my wife keeps checking my WeChat. 

Not only did we have to make sure that our night disappeared on everybody’s phones, we made sure that when we returned, we’d tell the same message to our wives, our girlfriends and our finances. It’s very embarrassing. 

Interestingly enough, whenever I tell people this story, they have something similar. We need to find a way to make sure that people can enjoy the moment for the day and don’t have their histories remembered on social media. That’s why Sobrr comes to the stage.”

Bruce Yang | Sobrr

Tagged: #bruce #yang #sobrr
​”​Everyone here is so completely mission driven. People really care about the open web and making it free. That drives everyone everyday. If I write standard HTML, CSS and Javascript, it should run everywhere, on any browser or any phone. 
It feels like everyone who’s an engineer wants to solve great technical problems, but it’s hard to do that and have your conscience clear about what you’re doing. Here I get to work on really cool technical projects and make a difference, actually do something that’s good. That’s really important to me.”
Ian Connolly | Mozilla​

​”​Everyone here is so completely mission driven. People really care about the open web and making it free. That drives everyone everyday. If I write standard HTML, CSS and Javascript, it should run everywhere, on any browser or any phone. 

It feels like everyone who’s an engineer wants to solve great technical problems, but it’s hard to do that and have your conscience clear about what you’re doing. Here I get to work on really cool technical projects and make a difference, actually do something that’s good. That’s really important to me.”

Ian Connolly | Mozilla​

“When I was young, I never imagined I could become a hacker. It seemed lonely and somehow unappealing, and I didn’t know any girls who did it. I stumbled into a computer science course at MIT by accident, and it wasn’t until I discovered Leah Buechley’s lab at MIT that I realized: hacking, engineering, computer science — it’s not about solving problems using some algorithm — it’s about gaining the freedom to create whatever you decide the world needs, to solve otherwise unsolvable problems.
I wanted to show other young kids — especially girls who thought like me — that programming is fundamentally about creation, which is why Leah and I wrote Sew Electric. Sew Electric speaks to kids in their language, teaching them how to build electronics and code through a series of creative projects, including an interactive plush monster and a touch-sensitive fabric piano. 
My hope is that Sew Electric will expand the culture of computer science, and make it less intimidating and more appealing to diverse kids from all backgrounds who want to create.”
Kanjun Qiu | Sew Electric

“When I was young, I never imagined I could become a hacker. It seemed lonely and somehow unappealing, and I didn’t know any girls who did it. I stumbled into a computer science course at MIT by accident, and it wasn’t until I discovered Leah Buechley’s lab at MIT that I realized: hacking, engineering, computer science — it’s not about solving problems using some algorithm — it’s about gaining the freedom to create whatever you decide the world needs, to solve otherwise unsolvable problems.

I wanted to show other young kids — especially girls who thought like me — that programming is fundamentally about creation, which is why Leah and I wrote Sew Electric. Sew Electric speaks to kids in their language, teaching them how to build electronics and code through a series of creative projects, including an interactive plush monster and a touch-sensitive fabric piano. 

My hope is that Sew Electric will expand the culture of computer science, and make it less intimidating and more appealing to diverse kids from all backgrounds who want to create.”

Kanjun Qiu | Sew Electric

“In high school, I refused to take Intro to Programming. I didn’t want to be one of those high school nerds. Finally, in my last quarter of 9th grade, I took the class, and it was incredible. I was coming home after school every day and re-implementing simple games. Tic Tac Toe, Tetris, Snake, Space Invaders. It was so easy to get something I could send to my friends right away - Visual Basic was a fantastic tool for that.
I ended up taking the rest of the CS Curriculum (AP Computer Science, etc) but it wasn’t nearly as exciting - all these data structures and C++. I drifted away and focused on other interests. By the time I went to college, I was undeclared. I didn’t take a single programming class my first semester there.
Then, as Israelis will, I got drafted into the Israeli military.  They had me doing manual QA for this giant defense project. My Hebrew was barely passable, like follow the line with your finger Hebrew.  In order to test, I had to read hundreds of pages of specs. I was pretty horrible at it, but they found out I knew Java. After that, I became the engineer for the testing team, building lots of test automation scripts. I was bored, so I started reading this new blog that had just come out, TechCrunch.
By the time I came back to school in 2009, it was obvious to me that I was going to study computer science. It was so mentally stimulating to have to think hard about problems, rather than just writing and maintaining scripts in the army. College was heaven for me.
I assumed when I got to college that there would be a bunch of students excited about making things, but that turned out not to be the case at all. Starting PennApps, I tried really hard to make it so. Now PennApps has become this giant, 100-schools, 1,000 students, six-figure event, and it’s helped inspire similar events at tens of other schools, there’s even a Hackathon League now - It’s not just me ranting anymore. As an entrepreneur, there’s no greater pleasure than causing this little micro-change in reality. It’s incredibly addicting once you realize you can turn your rants about ‘how things should be’ into reality.”
Alexey Komissarouk

“In high school, I refused to take Intro to Programming. I didn’t want to be one of those high school nerds. Finally, in my last quarter of 9th grade, I took the class, and it was incredible. I was coming home after school every day and re-implementing simple games. Tic Tac Toe, Tetris, Snake, Space Invaders. It was so easy to get something I could send to my friends right away - Visual Basic was a fantastic tool for that.

I ended up taking the rest of the CS Curriculum (AP Computer Science, etc) but it wasn’t nearly as exciting - all these data structures and C++. I drifted away and focused on other interests. By the time I went to college, I was undeclared. I didn’t take a single programming class my first semester there.

Then, as Israelis will, I got drafted into the Israeli military.  They had me doing manual QA for this giant defense project. My Hebrew was barely passable, like follow the line with your finger Hebrew.  In order to test, I had to read hundreds of pages of specs. I was pretty horrible at it, but they found out I knew Java. After that, I became the engineer for the testing team, building lots of test automation scripts. I was bored, so I started reading this new blog that had just come out, TechCrunch.

By the time I came back to school in 2009, it was obvious to me that I was going to study computer science. It was so mentally stimulating to have to think hard about problems, rather than just writing and maintaining scripts in the army. College was heaven for me.

I assumed when I got to college that there would be a bunch of students excited about making things, but that turned out not to be the case at all. Starting PennApps, I tried really hard to make it so. Now PennApps has become this giant, 100-schools, 1,000 students, six-figure event, and it’s helped inspire similar events at tens of other schools, there’s even a Hackathon League now - It’s not just me ranting anymore. As an entrepreneur, there’s no greater pleasure than causing this little micro-change in reality. It’s incredibly addicting once you realize you can turn your rants about ‘how things should be’ into reality.”

Alexey Komissarouk

​”We were at the crossroads of our careers. We were thinking, we should work on something exciting, and at the time, we were all working on products that we weren’t the primary users of. We’ve always thought that if we were working on developer tools, it would be so great. We wouldn’t even need product managers because we know what’s wrong with the product because we’d be using it everyday. 
We saw development environments as a problem that we all face but hadn’t been solved yet. We were confident that if we put our minds to it, we’d be able to solve it once and forever. People wouldn’t be talking about developer environment problems, similar to how people don’t talk about web app hosting problems anymore because of Heroku. We wanted to be that company to solve it.”
Arun Thampi | Nitrous.io

​”We were at the crossroads of our careers. We were thinking, we should work on something exciting, and at the time, we were all working on products that we weren’t the primary users of. We’ve always thought that if we were working on developer tools, it would be so great. We wouldn’t even need product managers because we know what’s wrong with the product because we’d be using it everyday. 

We saw development environments as a problem that we all face but hadn’t been solved yet. We were confident that if we put our minds to it, we’d be able to solve it once and forever. People wouldn’t be talking about developer environment problems, similar to how people don’t talk about web app hosting problems anymore because of Heroku. We wanted to be that company to solve it.”

Arun Thampi | Nitrous.io

“I love being on the frontier of what’s happening. DNA is everything, it’s us, it’s the code for every living creature on the planet. It’s solar power, medicine, everything. The fact that we can now manipulate it at will, that we can sell maker kits and random people can do genetic engineering at home is so exciting. What’s already possible blows my mind, but it’s nothing compared to what’s coming in the next years and I love being a part of that.
Cells can be thought of a little bit like compilers. They run DNA instructions as code. We download sample code from the internet for genes from glowing bacteria, and rewrite that in such a way that it’s readable by a plant. That then gives us a nice DNA sequence, and when we’re ready, we press print. We email the file, this file of ACT and G’s, and boom, there’s an outsourced company that makes the DNA. It takes two weeks, and they ship it back to you in Fedex. It’s kind of crazy if you imagine there’s always pieces of DNA whizzing around in the mail.”
Antony Evans and Kyle Taylor | Glowing Plant

I love being on the frontier of what’s happening. DNA is everything, it’s us, it’s the code for every living creature on the planet. It’s solar power, medicine, everything. The fact that we can now manipulate it at will, that we can sell maker kits and random people can do genetic engineering at home is so exciting. What’s already possible blows my mind, but it’s nothing compared to what’s coming in the next years and I love being a part of that.

Cells can be thought of a little bit like compilers. They run DNA instructions as code. We download sample code from the internet for genes from glowing bacteria, and rewrite that in such a way that it’s readable by a plant. That then gives us a nice DNA sequence, and when we’re ready, we press print. We email the file, this file of ACT and G’s, and boom, there’s an outsourced company that makes the DNA. It takes two weeks, and they ship it back to you in Fedex. It’s kind of crazy if you imagine there’s always pieces of DNA whizzing around in the mail.”

Antony Evans and Kyle Taylor | Glowing Plant

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