Garage48 2011 Tallinn

Recap & reflection

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Garage48 took place in Ülemiste City, Tallinn 15-17 April 2011.

After fretting about it for a very long time I finally got enough courage to register to a startup-programming event called Garage48. The idea was that for 48 hours (which really is quite a bit less - 2*5h of sleep, 4hrs of initial organizing) I’d fill the shoes of a front-end developer in a team of 4-8.

The first impression of the venue was great - lots of free space, open atmosphere. I had arrived 2 hours too early so I had some time to kill. The name badges and stickers were distributed and one by one, the participants arrived.

A bit later, the pitching of  ideas began. I was one of the lucky ones - the project I wanted to work in had an opening for my position and the 3 members seemed young, active and nice.

And so it happened that I got into then-unnamed team ‘Challengo’ which was about making a social service for challenging oneself. We had a know-it-all, do-it-all multifunctional programmer, an awesome girly-professional marketing wizard/project manager (wearing glasses makes one’s hair fall like a curtain!) and the best designer I’ve ever seen. The whole team spoke mainly in English, with some mixed Finnish/Estonian.

A social network of themed challenges, comes with a Karma profile and level-system. Revenues from ads on the mobile version. Team members: Ando Roots, Kristo Vaher, Valeria Gasik, Jelena Savinen

  • URL:
  • Twitter: @Challengo
  • Facebook:

The first day ended shortly after meeting the team and getting the green light since we had to take the bus schedules into account. To add a level of awesome dedication, the G48 team had arranged a possibility of staying overnight, but none of us thought that necessary for our project. The main body of the work got done the day after.

We started as soon as the venue opened and worked late into the night, taking the last bus back. The designer whipped out her Photoshop and started producing amazing graphics and wireframes from scratch, the backend developer (also the author of the idea) walked me through some backend design principles, the wizard started doing her magic with the social media and I, I was supposed to do something too, but in the end, it didn’t quite end up as ‘useful’.

We shared our cozy room with four other teams and it really was a good working environment. Food and drinks (but no decent coffee, what was up with that?) were always available. There were (mildly dirty) jokes and laughter, frustration - did you know that you can not, can NOT log out of Facebook easily from code? -, confusion, satisfaction and exhaustion. In short, a perfect day.

- No, seriously, it does not log me out! - Do you need Red Bull? - No! No! I need Mark Zuckerberg and a punching bag! They might be the same thing…

The first realization that I’m not a front-end designer hit when I got the first slices for the photosop’d design. I honestly did not foresee that coming, the illusion was that I’d be writing basic HTML, adding in simple pictures and writing jQuery and JS. Boy was I wrong… Luckily for the team, the know-it-all, do-it-all guru had experience in the field and he was the one to come to the rescue. On the upside - I got hands-on experience in working with a designer and positioning PS elements with CSS very precisely, something that’ll prove to be very useful in the future.

At the end of the day - about 13h of work - the design was done, the core functionality was done, the marketing was ongoing and some of the design was actually implemented. Some hours of sleep later, the team was back as we tried to get everything done and working for the presentation. Still a lot to do, the design to implement fully (since I proved to be incompetent in that aspect), features to add and stuff to tweak. We did what we could and managed to make it presentable with enough time to spare. It was weird, watching some of the teams struggle until the very end and we’re just chillin’ there…

I would say we’re live, but our marketing person doesn’t believe it.

The presentation went well, the scary part - speaking, in English, to a crowd of ~200+livestream, was bravely carried out by our market-eer person/superhero, and nothing broke. Yeah, nothing broke during the demo. Lots of other teams had broken/incomplete designs that presumably didn’t do them any favours in the eyes of the judges.

Our design was so well done and the site so… cool that we got the Best Prototype Award. AWESOME! The designer’s work really deserved it too. By the way, compared to some name-not-mentioned team(s), we were 1/2 undermanned and did 1/2 better. Way to go, ‘professionals’, way to go…

To wrap this up…Garage48 is an amazing event, I’ll definitely be participating in the events to come (the next one, in Autumn), but not as a front-end developer any more. Unless I really get the PS+CSS stuff during the summer. Got some experience in teamwork, but most importantly, met three new amazing people, whom, hopefully, I can continue working with in the future.

Why are you still here? Go to and check out the next events date+location. As in, NOW!