We are going to the edge of the United States to see them.
Experiencing this puts a lot of things in perspective for me.
And, happy birthday mom.
Amy and I have been in Homer, Alaska for the last ten days. Above is the view from the parking lot at the ocean in Anchor Point, which is literally “the end of the road on the western side of the US.”
Amy grew up here and it’s one of the places I go when I want to get some distance from everything. When we started coming here in the mid-1990s together, we’d literally have to disconnect in a lot of the places we hung out at. Today, you can only figuratively disconnect, as the internet will find you almost everywhere.
I’ve managed to turn off a lot of the distractions in the world over the past two years. Some, like Facebook, were easy. Others, like Google News, were harder. But even with the noise turned way down, it’s often hard to have perspective.
A 13 mile run to the end of the Homer Spit and back helps. Doing it two days in a row helps even more.
I took the weekend completely off from the computer. I read a lot, napped after my long runs, and talked to Amy. That was about it for the entire weekend.
As I settled into the Monday work rhythm, albeit four hours behind the east coast, I felt like my ten days in Homer has re-established some perspective.
Amy just said out loud, “We both seem cheerier than we did ten days ago.” True that.
I’m lazy blogging this week as I get ready to go on vacation for the July 4th holiday. So, here’s another set of videos to watch, which is the entire Street Level Startups series from Colorado Public Television. I’ve watched them all now and they are a great history of how the entrepreneurship scene in Colorado has evolved recently, along with a bunch of fun highlights of people and companies.
Street Level Startups: The New Gold Rush
Street Level Startups: When an Idea Strikes – Stories of Inspiration
Street Level Startups: Three Phases of a Startup
Street Level Startups: Mentorship & Integration
Street Level Startups: Startups to Watch
The level of histrionics yesterday about the weather on the front range that is coming has been epic. I’ve lived here since 1995 and the amount of fear, anxiety, discussion, preparation, and public commentary is higher than I can ever recall (and yes – I’m now contributing to it.)
As I sit here at my computer looking out my window in Longmont, it’s cloudy and raising episodically (hard a few minutes ago, but it has now stopped.) The clouds are dark and heavy to the east, low and snowy to the west, and light to the south. It’s just weird and made me think of what the eye of a hurricane must feel like.
Everything in Boulder is closing in advance of the storm. I had two meetings in person today – one canceled and I went ahead and canceled the other one just for flexibility. I expect DIA is going to be a total mess although the status is pretty normal right now.
I wonder what this would have been like 30 years ago, pre-commercial Internet and World Wide Web. How much of this is excitement amplified by immediate transmittal of information of an extremely wide variety of accuracy?
Or maybe a snowpocalypse is really coming. I guess we’ll know in a couple of hours (it’s now predicted to start around noon.)
I’ve been in San Diego with Amy for a while but we are returning to Boulder in a week. San Diego has been great, but I miss my dogs, my friends, and the Colorado vibe.
When people ask me about the Colorado vibe, I often talk about GiveFirst. Soon there will be a book (by me) on this, but for now there’s an increasing amount of content on the web building up to explain it. This article in the Colorado Sun – How Techstars’ “GiveFirst” mantra became a road map for the startup community in Colorado and beyond – was excellent and had numerous short examples of how GiveFirst works and influences a startup community.
Next up is a fun article by my co-author of Startup Communities Way (my new Startup Communities book – coming up mid-year 2019) Ian Hathaway. A few days ago he cranked out a post titled Colorado is for Founders. I love that phrase and he led off the post with this great tweet from Phil Weiser.
— Phil Weiser (@pweiser) December 5, 2018
He goes on to explain Jared and Phil’s huge accomplishments and impacts around startups and the startup community. The punch line in the post is:
“By many measures, Colorado is the most entrepreneurial state in the country, a fact that I discovered in 2013 when studying high-technology business formation around the United States. I was struck by just how many places across the state had a high proportion of startup activity occurring—a finding that has been extended to looking across other types of high-growth entrepreneurship as well. Something special is happening there, and it has been for many years.”
I’ll end with the Holiday Gift Guide from Techstars. If you want to give someone you know the gift of something from a Techstars company this holiday season, here are the choices all in one place.
Happy Friday Colorado. See you in a week.
I had dinner with Ian Hathaway a few weeks ago when I was in London. It was a delight to see him in person. While we’ve been collaborating on Startup Communities 2 (which we are now calling The Startup Community Way), which will come out at the “end-of-the-year-ish,” having dinner was a delight and reminded me how much I like him.
A few months ago he wrote a post on Waterloo, and activity in Canada in general, titled The North Star. It’s a good post worth reading but reminded me of a concept that we are weaving into The Startup Community Way.
There is an increasing number of “binary star” startup communities. If you aren’t familiar with binary stars, they are a system of two stars in which one star revolves around the other or both revolve around a common center.
Boulder and Denver is a canonical example of this, where each city has developed a strong startup community, but the relationship between the two makes each stronger as they grow and develop.
Other examples that I’m familiar with that jump out at me include:
- Toronto – Waterloo
- Detroit – Ann Arbor
- Provo – Salt Lake City
- Cleveland – Akron
- Brisbane – Ipswich
- Wellington – Auckland
- Vancouver – Victoria
- Tampa Bay – St Petersburg
If you know of other binary star startup communities, especially if you are a participant in one, leave a note in the comments.
Did you know that 28.5714% of the partners at Foundry Group are Texans?
Recently, I was asked if I consider myself a Texan. I answered that I grew up in Texas, live in Colorado, was born in Arkansas, and went to school in Massachusetts. While I have a house in Alaska, I never lived there (that’s where Amy grew up.)
I hadn’t really thought about this before I answered the question. While Massachusetts was very good to me, I never felt at home living in Boston or Cambridge. I left Dallas 35 years ago (although my parents still live there.) I only lived in Blytheville for a year, although I just visited it with my dad a few months ago.
I’ve now lived in Colorado longer than anywhere else (22.5 years). But, I’m occasionally told by people who have lived in Boulder for over 25 years that I’m still a newbie. So, maybe I’m a Texas for a few more years, although Amy says definitively, “You are not.”
Bobby Schnabel has returned to CU Boulder as the College of Engineering and Applied Science faculty director for entrepreneurial leadership, external chair of computer science, and campus thought-leader on computing.
I first met and worked with Bobby in the mid-2000s at the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), where he was a co-founder and on the board with me. Bobby is awesome and I’m really psyched he’s back in Boulder at CU.
While you may not know Bobby, this is a huge add for CU Boulder and the Boulder Startup Community. Bobby has a long history with CU Boulder. He was on the computer science faculty of the University of Colorado Boulder from 1977-2007, and Vice Provost for Academic and Campus Technology and Chief Information Officer from 1998-2007, and founding director of the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society (ATLAS) 1997-2007.
In 2007 when he left CU Boulder to become the Dean of the School of Informatics and Computer at Indiana University I was bummed for CU Boulder (but happy for Bobby and Indiana University.) When he joined the Association for Computer Machinery as CEO in 2015, I had the sense in the back of my mind that he might make his way back to Boulder at some point.
Bobby is returning to CU Boulder to strengthen the partnership between the incredible tech business and startup community we have in the Boulder area and in Colorado, and the tech-programs at CU Boulder.
Welcome back, Bobby! And, if you are in the Boulder Startup Community and want to connect with Bobby at some point, just give me a shout.
I was in Atlanta yesterday for Techstars Atlanta Demo Day. I’ll be here again today for Venture Atlanta and then I’m on to Kansas City for Techstars Kansas City Demo Day.
Rule #1: Don’t eat the bugs on the window of the 23rd floor of your hotel.
I’m being a lot more deliberate about my travel these days. I’m also being more careful about how I do it. I’m eating a lot smarter, not drinking at all, and making sure I get at least seven hours of sleep a night. While I hate shaking hands, I’ve given up trying to do fist bumps because I end up with numerous awkward semi-handshake-hand-grab moments. And I’ve stopped staying up late trying to get all my email from the day responded to like I did for 20 years.
I like Atlanta. I haven’t been here in a while but it’s pretty awesome to see how the startup community has grown in the past five years. While hot and humid today, it’s different from my norm so it’s an intriguing but easy adventure. While the bugs aren’t as big as the ones I grew up with in Dallas, they remind me of my childhood.
I had dinner with my brother Daniel and my cousin Kenny (who lives here) last night at the original Ted’s Montana’s Grill that’s on the corner of Luckie Street and Ted Turner Drive. We sat in the booth next to the one Ted frequents. The conversation was intense and wonderful. Something about all that made me smile just now.
Rule #2: Keep a sense of humor through all the absurdity. And, there’s a lot these days.
It’s a gray and rainy early summer day in Cambridge. As I was walking home from dinner last night through Kendall Square, I had a thought as I passed the Otto Piene designed Galaxy Earth Sphere sculpture. “I will never be lost here.”
I lived in Cambridge for four years when I was an undergrad at MIT. I then lived in Boston for eight more years after moving across the river to downtown while running Feld Technologies. Twelve years as a young adult in one city will cement the place in one’s brain.
While I only lived in Cambridge for four years, the essence of it is woven into the fabric of me. I immediately think of Toscanini’s Ice Cream, a place I at which I ate chocolate ice cream at least four times a week for the better part of four years. Gus’s smile is imprinted on my brain as he hands over the cone with the evening treat in it. Or the greatest food of all for a 170 pound 20-year-old – a giant scoop of chocolate ice cream with hot fudge generously poured over it.
While Kendall Square is all grown up with gleaming glass buildings, as I peer down Main Street to Mass Ave, I can almost see Tosci’s to the right, across the street from the U-Haul place. And then I remember my first real office, at 875 Main Street.
On the drive from the airport, we passed Rogers Street, and I immediately thought of NetGenesis’s first office. The Lotus building loomed large, the Royal Sonesta Hotel was still there, and the zig from First Street to Third Street remained the same. Amy and I were starving so after we dropped our bags off at the hotel, we wandered over to Legal’s for some food
Tuesday I could be anywhere, as I’ll be holed up in my hotel room on an endless stream of conference calls. On Wednesday, Amy and I are spending the day at Wellesley College. I’ve got a fun dinner with old friends each night and will run a few bridge loops if I can shake the time zone fatigue tomorrow and Wednesday.
It feels very comfortable here. And I like that.