It was a crazy idea that quickly took on a life of its own. Earlier this semester I happened to come across an advertisement for a competition that RedBull was running: the RedBull Can You Make It? Challenge.
The idea was simple enough: submit a one minute video showcasing your team, and then work to collect as many votes as possible on that video in one week. The winners were promised the adventure of a lifetime: a free, week-long trip to Europe where teams would compete to travel across the continent using only cans of RedBull as “currency”.
It was one of those things I got excited about but figured I would never actually pursue (let alone have any shot at winning). But, I happened to come across this ad while I was at HackCville, and I happened to tell a room of full of HCers about the idea. Before I knew what was happening, other people were excited about the idea too – and serious about forming a team and actually submitting a video.
Only one week from the submission deadline, fellow HackCville members Yash Tekriwal and Holland Cathey were 100% in on the idea. All of a sudden what had been a really not-serious announcement about a cool contest had snowballed into a real, all-hands-on-deck team that wanted to make it happen.
This was the first lesson RedBull taught me about HackCville: if you have an idea, odds are someone else will get behind that vision – and maybe be even more excited about it than you. I never would have followed through on this project without Holland and Yash to keep me going. We all took turns keeping the energy up and reminding each other that our team really did have a shot. When we started filming, I had a blast watching Holland do literal flips for the camera and seeing Yash show off his breakdancing skills at the IX park.
Footage acquired, it was time to turn our clips into the perfect video. This is where lesson two came in. I realized that even though I might not have all the skills I need to pull something off, somebody in HackCville inevitably does. As our team scrambled to storyboard, film, and edit our video in only a few days, other HC members jumped in to contribute the skills they were best at.
HC Member Sarah Dodge threw our footage into a rough outline of a video in Adobe Premiere in probably twenty minutes – at least three times faster than it would have taken our team. Other members Leeraz Zuo and Daniel Willson jumped in to help add cool titles and transitions to make our video stand out, and I came back to HackCville one afternoon to find that another member, CC Cura, had cleaned up all of the messy cuts in our video.These contributions all seriously made our video come together in the crunch time before the submission deadline.
So, with some help from HC, Yash and Holland and I got our video submitted. For only a few days of work, we were proud of what we’d pulled together. When our video went live on RedBull’s website, along with thousands of others, we were ready to tackle the next part of the contest and start asking everyone (everyone) we knew to vote for us.
The best part? People could vote once every 24 hours. For a week.
We bothered a lot of people during that week. Yash messaged, I kid you not, 273 friends on Facebook to get votes. I even resorted to emailing my professors asking them to solicit our video in class, and one had me stand up during lecture and stammer my way through an explanation about the contest in front of my 300 classmates.
HackCville contributed quite a few votes too. With some prodding from the three of us, the HC community rallied to help us share our video. People voted. They posted our video to Facebook, asked their friends to vote for us, and didn’t hate us for asking them to vote a second, third, or fifth time.
This is where I saw the true power of the HackCville community, my third lesson. We are a serious force to be reckoned with when we want to do something. With this rallying power our team was one of the 25% of teams that made it to the next stage of the contest, where RedBull’s judges would make the final decision on whether or not we’d compete in the final contest.
A few weeks later, we found out the RedBull judges did not select us to move on to the competition in Europe. We were disappointed, sure, but I think I can speak for the whole team when I say we were still proud of what we’d pulled off and that we had a good time doing it together.
The RedBull video was the first project I worked on in HC that wasn’t for a program, The Pioneer, or because I had to. It showed me that HackCville is a place where a weird, cool idea can turn into something real. HackCville is a place where people want to and actually do make things happen, and it’s a place where those same people will both encourage and help others out while having a damn good time doing it.