Tomorrow night (Tuesday, 1/29) I’ll be doing another Entrepreneurs Unplugged – this time I’ll be interviewing Jeremy Bloom, the co-founder of Integrate.
We are investors in Jeremy’s company which is doing extraordinarily well. Jeremy has been a total joy to work with and has an amazing story. If you recognize his name, “olympic ski champion”, “college football star”, and “NFL football player” may come to mind. He’s also the founder of a dynamite non-profit called Wish of a Lifetime.
We’ll be at the University of Colorado Law School, Room 101 from 6:15 – 7:45 PM with a reception to follow.
Register to join us for a fun and interesting evening.
Defrag and Blur are only two weeks away, and if you’re not yet registered to come, you should find a way. Why?
1. Makerbot will be there with the Replicator 2 in hand. And is there anything cooler than 3D printing right now?
3. The networking will be intimate and awesome, as usual.
You’ll see and interact with everything from social business software to big data stuff to robots to 3D printers to augmented reality.
If you’re not a student, use “ejnvip” to take 25% off of your Defrag registration , and if you’d like to come to Blur — use the super secret handshake code of “bifr12” to take 60% off of your blur registration (shhhh)….
Don’t miss it!
On Friday I spent three hours at Tufts University meeting with Chris Rogers and a few of his colleagues at the Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach. We had an awesome, wide ranging conversation about what they are doing, how the accelerator model could apply, and how education, especially around engineering and computer science needs to radically change, as well as some concrete suggestions about how to change it. I also got a tour of the research lab which had an enormous number of legos everywhere as one of their key sponsors is Lego.
James Barlow, the Director of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Program for The Gordon Institute at the Tufts School of Engineering was also in the meeting. He was as awesome as Chris and was able to speak from experience around a lot of accelerator activities, especially in Europe.
Yesterday, he emailed me a brilliant RSA Animate talk by Sir Ken Robinson on Changing Education Paradigms. I just watched it and found myself nodding my head up and down for most of the 11 minutes it took to watch the video.
I encourage you to invest 11 minutes of your life and watch it right now if you are interested in getting an insight into why much of our current approach to education is broken (the “why”) along with some of how it can be fixed (“the what”).
I believe strongly that accelerator programs like TechStars have become a very effective “education program” for entrepreneurs. While we’ve figured out pieces of it, we are now taking it up a level by trying to figure out the longer term arc around multi-year programs, along with additional programs linked to entrepreneurship, but not necessarily for entrepreneurs, such as Boston Startup School. Academic accelerators, like the one that MIT ran this summer called the MIT Founders Skills Accelerator, are introducing and experimenting with this in an academic setting. Finally, my friends at Startup Weekend are working on something called SW Next that they’ll be rolling out soon – we talked about it extensively at our board meeting ten days ago.
When we look back in 40 years, I expect another dramatic impact of the Internet and the web will be a massive shift in the way education is packaged and delivered. And that’s a good thing.
A few weeks ago at Thinc Iowa I noticed the tradition they had of giving a standing ovation to the speaker when the speaker took the stage. I had never seen that before and thought it was awesome. Speakers also got a standing ovation after their talk. As someone who does a lot of public talks, the first sixty seconds of warming up a room are often awkward (even if well executed) and the standing ovation at the beginning eliminated all of this for me.
I just spent an awesome day at the EO Entrepreneurs Masters Program 20th Anniversary. This program started out as Birthing of Giants 20 years ago and had a profound impact on me when I was 25 years old and running Feld Technologies. We were 12 people at the time and were just at the $1 million annual revenue minimum for applying. It was the first time I had really found my peer group and it helped me understand the value of peers and mentoring at a very young age. It also resulted in me getting involved in Young Entrepreneurs Organization, starting the Boston and Colorado chapters, and serving on the YEO board for several years. As icing on the cake, I met Verne Harnish, who became a good friend, was the only person I knew when Amy and I moved to Boulder, and has continued to have an amazing impact on a huge number of entrepreneurs over the 20 years since I first met him.
I was on a panel with a few of my colleagues from that first Birthing of Giants class that graduated in 1992. The room was full of warmth and there was no awkwardness, plus I was the last person on the panel to talk. Our assignment from Verne was to discuss several profound life moments and try to work the notion of “a billion” into the examples as one of the themes of this year’s class was “a billion.” The audience of 500 was engaged for our entire panel (which is a big deal for anyone who has ever sat on a panel as they can be soul crushing experiences to sit and watch people disconnect in the audience – well – reconnect with their iPhones – while disconnecting from the panel.
We got a standing ovation and the end which caused me to flash back to the Thinc Iowa event and made me wonder why the tradition of giving a standing ovation at the beginning hasn’t taken off. I hope Eric Norlin incorporates it for Defrag and Blur – it so changes the ton of the transition from speaker to speaker in a powerful and positive way.
I’ve been involved in Startup Weekend events since Andrew Hyde held his first event in Boulder in 2007. As you know I’ve recently joined the board and have enjoyed watching the organization flourish. One interesting development is the growth of industry-focused events and it’s especially exciting to see Entrepreneurs and Educators collaborating Education-focused Startup Weekends. A team of organizers in Boulder has put together a Startup Weekend Edu for next weekend (October 5th-7th) in Boulder and I’d love to see the tech community come out in support of entrepreneurship that focuses on making the lives of students, teachers, parents, and administrators better.
The judge panel is pretty impressive. Glenn Moses (Denver blended learning guru) and Dan Domagala (CIO for the Colorado Department of Ed) both signed on as judges, and Congressman Jared Polis will be joining SWedu-ers on Sunday morning. They need a few more sponsors for meals and have plenty of room for attendees. Please forward this out to your network and, if you haven’t confirmed your attendance, please do that now!
In approximately seven weeks, Defrag will be happening again. It’s the sixth incarnation of Defrag, and over time it seems to have become an annual Fall rite of passage.
This year’s Defrag is no different: an intimate gathering and great conversations. Speakers like Kevin Kelly (founder of Wired Magazine), Jeff Ma (inspiration for the movie, “21”), Bre Pettis (of Makerbot), and many, many others. Topics like mobile development, identity management, social business, big data, and APIs.
One key difference with this year’s Defrag, though, is the addition of Blur. Defrag and Blur will overlap for half a day. This means that in three days time, you can get the experience of Defrag, and then stick around for robots, 3D printing and all kinds of cool HCI stuff at Blur. Two shows in three days in one place. (Note: we’ll also be having the Boulder is for Robots meeting at Blur, and opening up some “hacking space” to build stuff.)
In short, you should plan to be at Defrag and Blur (November 14-16). Early Bird registration expires this Friday, and “brad12” takes an additional 10% off. See you there!
On Monday night 9/24 from 6:15 to 7:45 I’m co-hosting the first Entrepreneurs Unplugged session of Fall 2012 at CU Boulder. We’ll be at ATLAS in Room 100 and I’ll be interviewing Rustin Banks (CEO) and Holly Hamann (VP Marketing) of BlogFrog.
If you are interested in coming, please register here. It’s free, but we do have a limited number of seats. I love doing the Entrepreneurs Unplugged sessions – it’s a chance for me to interview some of the great Boulder entrepreneurs, especially up and coming ones like Rusty and Holly. I’ve known Holly since her time as VP of Marketing at Service Metrics, a company in which I was an investor in the late 1990’s and was a huge Boulder success story when they were acquired in 1999 by Exodus for $280 million. I met Rusty more recently, a few years ago when he was just starting BlogFrog. While I’m not an investor, I introduced him to a few friends of mine including David Cohen of TechStars who helped him put together his angel round.
Since Rusty and Holly started BlogFrog, they’ve create a rapidly growing company that is another Boulder success story. They raised a $3.2 million round in the spring and have gained national visibility in the past year for creating a great new approach to influence marketing.
Rusty, Holly, and BlogFrog have a great story. Come hang out with me Monday at CU Boulder and hear it.
We’ve been investing in our Glue theme and Protocol theme for a long time – well before we started Foundry Group. Many of our Glue investments and our Protocol investments are growing quickly and becoming integral parts of the Internet and web software infrastructure.
It made me smile to see a recent post from Promoboxx titled We’re Powered by TechStars Companies. It’s a great post about focusing on what matters for your product while leveraging great technology infrastructure from other companies. Several of the companies we are investors in are mentioned, including SendGrid and FullContact, each which are TechStars companies that we invested in after they finished the program.
For as long as I’ve been involved in writing and creating software there has always been a deep philosophy of creating building blocks that you can leverage. Something magical happened around this with the web and in the past five or so years there have been a number of amazing companies created that are easy to quickly integrate, either through a little bit of code or an API. It’s part of thing that has changed the dynamics of creating and launching a web software company, dramatically lowering the price of just getting something out there so you can start getting real feedback from users and customers.
When I reflect on this year’s Glue Conference, it feels like we’ve finally reached a tipping point where this concept is ubiquitous. I expect we’ll talk about it at Defrag and Eric Norlin’s post from yesterday titled The 20 Year Cycle hints to some of the deeper ideas about how this affects enterprise software and corporate IT, in addition to all the obvious consumer implications.
It’s a great time to be building software – the innovation curve is speeding up, not slowing down, and I expect when we look back 20 years from now we won’t recognize what we were doing in 2012.
If you are a web developer in Boulder who does stuff with APIs, I encourage you to join our friends at Singly on Thursday 7/26 at the Bitter Bar from 5:30 – 8:30. They are building an organic network of friends and evangelists around APIs and looking to have a conversation with anyone interested. Several Foundry Group companies who are API-centric will be there including FullContact and SendGrid are co-sponsoring the event and helping to promote it.
When: Thursday July 26th
What: APIs and IPAs. Free drinks and appetizers; Sign Up Here
Where: Bitter Bar Boulder | 835 Walnut Street | 5:30pm – 8:30pm
Singly is an API abstraction layer and data service for developers who are building apps that consume data from multiple authenticated/private social data sources. They handle/unify auth, data syncing, unified access patterns for query, cleaning (deduplication, etc) and storage. In general, they are seeing more apps being built that are “smart” apps that create new data/experiences drawing from the growing body of already generated data/experiences and are aiming to make it increasingly easy and cost/time efficient to do so.
This week I’ll be kicking off the second day of Big Boulder with a talk about how the Boulder startup community has come to be what it is today. Big Boulder is a conference on social data held by our portfolio company Gnip.
Last year Chris Moody wrote a blog post about how companies should pursue thought leadership. To me, Big Boulder is the embodiment of this. Gnip believes that social data will change the world. To that end, they’ve brought together some of the biggest players from social media publishers including Facebook, Twitter, Klout, LinkedIn, StockTwits, Disqus, Tumblr and WordPress. They’ve put together a killer agenda talking about the many uses of social data and how publishers are thinking about it and what is enabling people to do.
Part of Boulder’s ability to grow as a startup community is our ability to bring high-level events to Boulder. To that end, Foundry Group has worked hard to bring and keep Defrag and Glue in Boulder. We’re excited to have Big Boulder as another high-profile event attracting people to our city. This affords more people to see everything Boulder has to offer a startup community and for our community to interact with attendees. I know that some Big Boulder speakers like Daniel Ha of Disqus are also sticking around to speak to the TechStars teams.
If you’ll be at the conference, please come and say hi.