In the Thick of Things: Startup Weekend Boulder

BoulderStartupLOGO 300x95 In the Thick of Things: Startup Weekend Boulder






Startup Weekend Boulder 5 is going on as I write this. I'm actually blogging from the TechStars Bunker where the event is being held. The din of the 8 teams busily working on designs, demos and pitches surrounds me. For so much intense work going it's actually pretty calm and quiet.

If you don't happen to know, Andrew Hyde created Startup Weekend over a midnight conversation with the intent to get smart entrepreneurial types in together to create a small project over a weekend. It's now grown to over 233 events as a 54 hour high intensity marathon focused on building a web or mobile app that could turn into a viable startup.

I'll be writing more after the event ends. For now you can get a glimpse into some of the teams and watch a mid-event update from Jon Rossi, one of the organizers of Startup Weekend Boulder.


Community Building Tip #394

While community building has been around as long as our cave dwelling ancestors it's undergone a revival in recent years with the rise of social media. In a more connected world it's both easier–and much harder to build a strong community. People often ask me how I built a strong network–in Boulder within a few months from basically zero and how my Twitter following grew 1000% in less than a year. Let me start with one of the biggest tips.

Don't game the system. IMAG0023 179x300 Community Building Tip #394

In the Twitter world this looks like following hundreds of people in an attempt to get them to follow you. Once they do–poof! you unfollow them. This is usually done in an attempt to gain followers as well as boost your ratio between followers and following. This is bad, bad, bad. Don't do this. You may build a following in the short term but once people figure out your game you'll lose followers–and credibility. Don't be that guy.

In the professional world this often shows up as  a one-way relationship where you receive or only focus on getting your needs met. You know these people. It's all about me, me, me. And when it's finally your turn it's as if a black hole swallowed them whole and they're off to their next "meeting." Don't do this.  It doesn't engender trust, pisses people off and takes you farther away from your goal. And? When you encounter a professional dark alley like needing a job or new clients–people are much less likely to help you.

So you want to build a strong community?


Take time to understand how the "system" works


complete the cycle of giving and receiving.


P.S. Don't worry. You didn't miss 393 other tips on building community. Since Letterman has already perfected the Top 10 list I thought I'd be just myself and create something different. Which…is a community building tip for another day.



A New Beta Launch in Boulder

Boulder is pretty well known for its plethora of networking events–especially in the tech and startup space. There's the Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup (BDNT). Boulder Open Coffee Club (BOCC). Entrepreneurs Unplugged. Startup Women. They're all different but amazing groups that I enjoy deeply. You'd think with all these events we'd have it covered.

Enter Boulder Beta.

IMAG18601 300x179 A New Beta Launch in Boulder

This new entry to the Boulder community was founded by Tim Falls, a recent CU MBA graduate who works at SendGrid to bring entrepreneurial community together in a less scheduled, more social environment and to bring the community and CU's campus closer. I admit–I was a little skeptical that Boulder needed yet. another. event. I decided to go because I was curious like a four legged animal with whiskers and a bunch of my friends were going to be there. So, I went.

I was wrong. This event is different. Boulder needs Boulder Beta. 

What worked about Boulder Beta 1.0

IMAG1862 300x179 A New Beta Launch in Boulder

  • Massive turnout. Hundreds attended the inaugural event (I think I heard 350). It was great to meet so many cool new people who work in or are interested in the entreprenuerial community.
  • Demos. I love having the opportunity to have a close-up demo of local companies AND the ability to talk with someone at the company–often a co-founder.
  • Pop-in style event. The length (3 hours) and style (ongoing demos) of the event really worked well. At times it was so crowded you couldn't get in to see the demo but was able to get back to the ones I missed a little later in the night.

The only things that I didn't like was that it was tough to get a drink at times and it was so dark in there that I accidentally stepped on the Sphero (Orbotix's new product). Thankfully I didn't break it since a. It's a prototype and 2. I have no idea how much it would have cost.

Boulder Beta 1.0 Companies

All of the companies were super professional with great products. Many of them of were pretty early stage with a few in private beta. They include: BlipSnips, Deliverss, OneTrue Fan, swaglove, rainmaker, YapTime.Unfortunately I didn't get to spend quality time with all of the companies. Here are a few of my favs that demo'ed that night. It's a total coincidence that my favs each have TechStars graduates behind them. Or is it?

  • ForklyBrady Becker and Martin May are really intelligent, cool guys who are now two-time entrepreneurs. With Forkly they're creating a new application that's cool mash-up of taste and geo location that allows you to easily figure what to eat when you're out and able as this non-cook often is. Fingers crossed I get in on the beta.
  • Occipital – A HUGE photography fan, I love what Vikas Reddy and Jeff Powers are up to with their cool real-time panorama creation app. Now if it were just available on Android or someone would give me an iPhone. My birthday is in June just in case you didn't know what to get "the girl who has everything but an iPhone."
  • Orbotix – I was intrigued with Ian Berstein and Adam Wilson when I saw them go through TechStars. Orbotix's first product the Sphero (the one I stepped on), was the belle of the ball at the recent Consumer Electronic Show and for good reason. This ball is just plain fun. And as a closet gamer (not anymore!)  I'm really looking forward to the product launch later this year.
  • Torbit - Since I spend up to 12 hours a day online, having fast internet is paramount.  Co-Founders Josh Fraser and Jon Fox were also tired of slow loading pages and created Torbit as a way to remedy this ever-growing problem.

Missed Boulder Beta 1.0? You can still check out the demo companies. If you want to experience it live, rumor has it there's going to be another one in April.  If you'd like to present or attend at the next one, I'd suggest following them on The Twitters or checking out their Facebook page.

And next time…

Go to Boulder Beta. You need it.


Good Decision? Bad Decision?

Dad cover 774x1024 Good Decision? Bad Decision?

My dad (the one wearing the pocket protector) was a design engineer who developed prototypes for GM back in the day. Being an engineer he liked to break things down into nice tidy aphorisms that made things black & white. My favorite is one he used often.

It's simple but highly effective.

Whenever I have a decision I feel confused about or that am going back and forth on I invoke it. It helps me move past the "sunk cost" rationalizations or anything else that might confuse me as to whether it was a good decision or not. Here's the secret.

Good decisions get better.

Bad decisions get worse.