Archive for the ‘Adventures in Ventures’ category

#swou OU Start-up Weekend

February 10th, 2012

I just came back from my first start-up weekend opening ceremonies when everyone pitches their ideas and then votes for the ideas they like the most. I’d forgotten how great it is to be around entrepreneurs. Lots of great people with different backgrounds; I was actually surprised at the number of engineers and computer science folks out of the group of 40 that showed up.

After the introduction to the format by the fabulous Ryan Goins (also launching a entrepreneurial community in Kalamazoo, Michigan called Start-Up Zoo) we had the chance to hear from Kraettli Epperson, one of the founders of Venture Spur-Oklahoma City’s accelerator ($25k for 10% equity, in case you were wondering). Great start-up story about the launch a digital book site that leveraged publisher’s old inventory before the internet took off.

Then the pitches which really turned into a brainstorming session as people heard others ideas that weren’t life changing but still well received. Apps were heavily favored with anything from a make me happy app to one that consolidates everyone’s pictures at an event. Social also represented well with a variety of platform from poetry, people quoting to sports fans. Then there was the occasional website that was your own personal dashboard, recipe program, and temporary phone number service. These are just a smattering of the types of ideas that were thrown around. It was interesting to see where everyone gravitated towards. I love entrepreneurs.

P.S. Customer discovery underway-Entrepreneurs tell us what would help you launch your business. 3 question survey: https://atrial.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_3Vnxwb8LJxDAUxC

How to create a start-up community

February 9th, 2012

This is a topic that has been under discussion for several decades, at least in reference to duplicating Silicon Valley’s success.  Paul Graham, of YCombinator fame, has offered his thoughts on How to be Silicon Valley, Why Start-up Hubs Work, and Can You Buy Silicon Valley? Maybe.

He boils it down to people, two specific types: rich people and nerds; specifically, rich people that have experience in technology allowing them to provide advice and connections. Nerds, in this case, are smart people that like to build things and solve problems. In order to attract this kind of combination requires a nice place to live with personality where everyone walks around smiling.

Brad Feld, over in Boulder, also proposed a few key principles regarding how to build entrepreneurial communities such as entrepreneur-led communities with a 20-year timeline and entrepreneurial density. He also is writing, with David Cohen, a book on entrepreneurial communities. Here is the expected table of contents or you can reference a related blog post on building a sustainable entrepreneurial community or you can follow his blog that is highlighting emerging start-up community efforts across the world.

They both point to a set social norms that allow the impossible to be possible and a help to be offered without expectation of immediate return. A pay-it-forward mentality, if you will. Academic research calls this a knowledge spillover but also includes large employers and universities in the prescription for the start-up scene’s success. This encouraging and empowering community is something I had the chance to be a part of with organizations like Launch Up and The Foundry (In Utah, not Mr. Feld’s VC firm). I’m trying to figure out how to get something like that going here in my current place of residence in Oklahoma. There are efforts to do many of the activities that are found in places like Boulder and Silicon Valley but they seem isolated from each other. This is especially true of the more rural parts of the state.

I plan to continue to learn and document here what I experience as I try to build off the work of others and try to find and support a group of half dozen or so entrepreneurs that plan to be here for the next 20 years and want to build an entrepreneurial community. Just to make sure it isn’t all words and no action I’ve launched a very simple website that will hopefully evolve as I figure out what problem my customer wants me to solve. Feel free to check in on my progress at startupsooner.com.

Test 1…Fail

January 19th, 2012

I attempted to organize a entrepreneur group this week by simply posting a handful of flyers and utilized the Meetup website. The result: the person I personally invited showed up and 2 emails from people who couldn’t make it. In doing something (anything) to get going I didn’t expect  much but was curious to see what would happen. As I interviewed and corresponded with my “customers/users” it became apparent the problem that they were hoping would be solved was the lack of network or access to resources and not knowledge or support. They wanted to meet people that would help them start a start-up, their start-up.

So how do you solve that problem especially in order to create a critical mass that it makes it worth it to participate? Who do I believe has this problem? Those that don’t network or have enough work experience that expose them to others or are only exposed to a certain type of person. So the target’s are specialists such as the classic business and technology co-founders. Sell or build-those are the two skills I need to have my kids learn.

 

 

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