Let’s face it: Being too privileged is a heavy burden. You have so much and others, so very little. If only there was a way to help the have-nots have some (for a price!). Welcome to WellDeserved: “a marketplace for privilege.”
“Privilege goes unused every single day–why would we waste any of it?” says WellDeserved “founder” Kasima Tharnpipitchai in a promo video. “Our business plan is that VCs will just give us money because this is San Francisco and we have an idea.”
If it’s not clear by now, this is a spoof. But in the self-satisfied world of startups, you can almost picture it being a thing–and therein lies the commentary. The team behind WellDeserved is the newest grand prize winner of Comedy Hack Day, a weekend-long hackathon that brings together comedic talent and developers to create unique and hilarious apps. Produced by creative agency Cultivated Wit, Comedy Hack Day’s primary mission, aside from getting everyone lifted from free-flowing whiskey, is to bring together two worlds that don’t intersect as often as they should yet could benefit greatly from each other. (Disclosure: Baratunde Thurston, Cultivated Wit’s CEO, is a columnist at Fast Company).
“Oftentimes developers don’t have a great stage presence,” says Craig Cannon, Cultivated Wit cofounder. “For comedians, more often than not, they aren’t developers and so they’ll have this idea but won’t know anyone who can build it. It’s cool seeing that creativity overlap.” Comedy Hack Day has the framework for a regular hackathon, intense collaborations to solve problems nimbly and efficiently, but it’s the addition of comedy that casts everything in a fresher light.
“Everyone gets a lot from approaching problems from a different way or even embracing a new way of thinking about technology–especially the comedic side of it,” says Brian Janosch, Cultivated Wit cofounder. “You’re looking to make a joke–you’re not necessarily looking to make something the way you normally would. You’re analyzing on a different level.”
Over the course of three days, comedians and developers break off into groups, formulate an idea, and present it in front of celebrity judges and an audience. This Comedy Hack Day saw the likes of ScreenShop, a Photoshop-like tool to up your phone screenshot game; and White Man Dance Catalogue, which is exactly what you think it is. As ridiculous as some of these ideas may sound, they’re actually fully functioning products. In fact, two entries from past events, Magic Story Maker and Timesify, have found life after Comedy Hack Day.
“We continue to feel it’s a new type of comedy. That might be a little too arrogant to say, but it definitely does feel like uncharted territory,” Janosch says. “These aren’t just people talking about a funny concept, they’re actually showcasing a constructed, usable, downloadable, entity and the jokes are the in the UI. The jokes are executed in a way that as you click through an app, the humor is coming out in that way instead of being revealed in a sketch.”
And to help further execute those jokes, Cultivated Wit has produced its first “vision video” (watch it above) with the WellDeserved app team. Not familiar with vision videos? Of course you are:
“[Comedy Hacker Day] is intended for a live audience, but that’s not how you learn about or discover a new product when you’re on the internet,” Janosch says. “We felt like we were missing the mark slightly with trying to explain what these products were to people online when they may not have been at the event. It also opened up the satire of it all to tackle this type of video, which is so common with startup culture.”