The best conference ever & how we got our start

Awesome crowd at Brooklyn Beta 2012
(Photo by marc thiele)

Brooklyn Beta is the best conference ever. If you can call it a conference. No internet access; no tracks; everyone stays in the same room together; and there’s regularly provided alcohol.

It is incredible.

You can feel the love and attention to every detail. From the hand-assembled name badges with personalized blurbs written by your mom (seriously, they contacted our moms) to the hand-made felt banners sharing the recurring them of “Make Something You Love”. It’s like a birthday party with 250 close friends and those you want to become friends with.

Last year, the Brooklyn Beta ringleaders, Chris and Cameron, opened up a Y Combinator-esque program aptly named Summer Camp, “to inspire web developers and designers to make something they love, and to help remove any barriers that stand in the way.” We applied with our idea of Live Local, later named Farmstand, and were fortunate enough to be accepted as one of five teams. We received $25,000 and in July 2012 vaulted full-time into the mobile version of Farmstand.

Our proof-of-concept was a responsive web app built with Ruby on Rails but we knew it needed to be a native iOS app. We had never built an iPhone app and didn’t know Objective-C but that sure wasn’t going to stop us. The three of us jumped in, got Farmstand in the app store, and announced the launch at Brooklyn Beta on October 10th, 2012. I was so proud and invigorated by the hard work of our team and getting to that point in such a short time.

We also wouldn’t be here without Craig Shapiro of Collaborative Fund. He and his team have invested in a number of groups we love such as CreativeMornings, Simple, and Kickstarter. He made a ballsy decision to invest $50,000 in any of the Summer Camp teams that wanted help progressing. We couldn’t have kept working full-time on Farmstand if it weren’t for his generosity.

So, that’s a snippet of how we got started – Summer Camp; being surrounded by awesome people; and building something we love.

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