Stretch Goals Are Important (Or WizzyWig Won $100k in 48 Hours at a Hackathon)

[ Summary: Stretch goals are important, and the ones we set for the first LAUNCH Hackathon this past March resulted in a team of three unknown 20-somethings from Pittsburgh building a killer product in 48 hours, landing over $100k in investment on the spot and later earning a slot at a prestigious accelerator. On November 8-10 we host the second LAUNCH Hackathon with stretch goals of 1k *actual* developers, $250k in investment prizes and five teams funded or accepted to accelerators. ]

At some point 10 years ago I overheard the buzzword ‘stretch goals’ and it stuck in my brain.

It might have been from an ex who was at Harvard Business School, or from reading Jack Welch.

Stretch goals, as far as I understand them, are lofty goals that you set even though you have no idea how to reach them at the time.

My Three Stretch Goals

Last year I started setting stretch goals for myself and my kick-ass teams.

Three notable ones at LAUNCH:

a) the largest startup technology conference / hit 5k attendees for the 2013 LAUNCH Festival
b) the largest hackathon with 300 *real* participants
c) the largest hackathon prize ever

Well, we had 6k folks come to the LAUNCH Festival in March, resulting in folks coming to me for the past six months saying, ‘That was amazing! It was huge!’ We blew past the stretch goal by 20%. Wow.

At the end I got a standing ovation from thousands of folks, and for the first time in my professional career I choked up on stage. It was perhaps, professionally, the highlight of my 20-year career.

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