The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge

A few weeks ago was the Overnight Website Challenge put on by The Nerdery and congratulations to the team from TST Media for winning the competition portion of the event. I’ve had a few interactions with TST through shared clients and I was happy to see Greg and the others come through. However, the overnight challenge if far more than a competition for local tech firms and ad hoc groups of do-gooding-geeks to compete. The overnight challenge is a 24 hour nonstop event that brings web, content, PM, and design professionals together and pairs them with a non-profit in need of a website. Seriously, how awesome is that. There are other weekend events in the Twin Cities that focusing on building and bringing new ideas to market, including a few startups in the process, but how can you compare with the real and effective change that comes out of an event like the overnight challenge.

I had to get involved. The only catch was finding the right team to partner up with. Many of the teams were filled with people from companies like The Nerdery and TST and orgs like Ruby.Mn and I could have tried to crash the party with them but decided against it as I’d be the other guy…and they were full anyway. (Interestingly enough I was chatting with The Nerdery at the time re: employment and it would have been a great way for us to get to know each other; I ended up accepting another position before we could get intimate.) Instead I settled on a strategy of aligning with the teams that were close enough to meet the threshhold of volunteers and weren’t obviously aligned to a particular company. My other choices where to join groups with few volunteers, those centered around technology platforms I didn’t align well with like a product suite they sell, or to start my own team but finding 9 other volunteers in a few weeks seemed unlikely.

So I joined a team and put a little blurb out there and waited. And waited. And waited. And then started to think if my approach had been misguided. Typically when you’re meeting with someone you want to know better  you put on the sell and in this case my thought was “hey, I’m volunteering and by that fact I’m vetted as only good people would volunteer to work 24 hours with strangers so they have to take me.”

What I didn’t do was detail my years of startup experience, my 10+ years of web development and database work, my years leading teams, managing projects, writing content, cutting up designs back in the day when I led a team of devs in a U.S. top 40 interactive agency. I didn’t describe my 6  years running my own consulting business. Also, what I didn’t do was share my years of volunteering at places like Sharing and Caring Hands, serving Thanksgiving meals with my family in years past, working with Special Olympics for years and how last fall I spent a weekend at the Special Olympics Leadership as a mentor to an athlete.

Anyway…you know where this is going. I was rejected as a volunteer when I read this well crafted Dear John email.

This is the hardest part of an automated email’s job: I’m sorry to inform you that your request to join the “Push & Run” team was not accepted by that team’s captain. On behalf of The Nerdery and a good number of nonprofits with questionable website, thanks for volunteering. You can check out other teams that may be looking for a few good web pros or even start your own team on the website at:


The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge

Pretty funny to me. At least there were still sites being made for the NPOs.



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