A hackathon is like the Apprentice meets Dragons’ Den — you work in teams to come up with a business idea which you then pitch to a panel. I’d travelled down to London to make a name for myself at a MedTech hackathon.
One of the judges was a venture capitalist from California. He probably fit every stereotype of American-ness you could think of. At the open, he asked a roomful of ~100 nervous students to pitch our initial ideas.
I’d later find out amongst one of many eccentricities, he carried around a wad full of cash. If he liked your idea he would give you a $100 bill.
I jumped at the opportunity to pitch first (probably hyped from my latest self-help book). I pitched my idea, an app with which HIV patients could track their CD4 count and thus infectivity (this was back when apps were cool) 🦠
He didn’t give me a $100 note.
Later I saw him looking annoyed so I approached him to introduce myself:
“Who are you?”
“I pitched the HIV app idea”
“Oh yeah, your idea was total garbage”
“Why would anyone want to use that? That’s spam, seriously”
A couple of years later and I agree with him.
This week I want to talk about radical honesty.