Category Archives: Denver

GoCode CO 2015 (Year Two)

I just finished the AAR (After Action Report) Meeting, so now I figure it’s time to put my thoughts down, on this, my second year being a part of such a fun project.

tl;dr; GoCode CO 2015 was better than it’s predecessor, and a huge success. Both of which are kind of expected, you always want to improve, and we did.

I was much more involved this year over last. That was good, last year I felt under utilized, and never really involved beyond, “Show up and be put to work”, so it was nice to actually be involved. The team changed from last year to this, and while I enjoyed last years’ team, I think this year’s team really crushed it. We enjoyed working together, laughed a hell of a lot, and dealt with issues with style.

I was tasked not just with Challenge Weekend (I ran Ft. Collins again this year) but with all event logistics. Four events, two of which were weekend long events, two more party/reception/gala style, was a stretch and a fun challenge.

This year I’ve tried to branch out a bit and take on some event consulting work between my own events. Overall it’s been fun, but definitely a lesson in time and resource management.

I won’t go into granular details of each event, that’s not needed, they all went well, nothing went sideways, or at least overly sideways. My adopted city Ft. Collins took 2 out of the 3 winning spots, which is awesome. I’m sure my team is over hearing me crow about Ft. Collins, sorry all, can’t help it. :)

That said, this year every single team really brought their A game. The Apps were polished, the presentations (mostly) amazing.

It’s been very fulfilling to be a part of something like this, 5 cities around CO (Ft. Collins, Grand Junction, Durango, Co. Springs, Denver) sending 2 teams each to the final event. It’s awesome to see this kind of thing at the state level. Colorado is lucky to have such a cool project, striving to make CO even better than it is.

Oh and I will say, our current Sec. of State is a hoot! I got a chance to chat and hang out with him during Challenge Weekend (i think he hit 3-4 out of 5 cities, that’s impressive), and a little during the final event. Both times he was super cool to talk to. Hard to not like someone who laughs that much!

2014 in review.

I know, everyone does one, blah blah. This is mine. Read it or don’t :) But I think 2014 was a pretty big year personally and professionally. It saw me recover from a massive blunder in 2013 to the tune of about $80k. It saw me cancel my first event, and sign on to do event consulting on an event I’m excited about. It also saw lots of travel, and bonding with friends near and far.

Things that happened in 2014:

  • Once again helped organize Denver Startup Week
  • Helped organize and run GoCode CO 2014
  • Cancelled 360|intersect 2014
  • Recovered from 360|Stack 2013
  • Held what’s likely the last 360|Flex
  • Helped organize AltConf 2014
  • Brought 360|iDev back to downtown Denver. Sold out a month in advance
  • Held a successful and the first of many [360|iDev min] in beautiful Greenville SC.
  • Spent 10 days in Hong Kong with my Pal Tom.
  • Spent a week in Amsterdam with my amazing wife and friends (Mike, Judy and Samuel)
  • Took on my first event consulting gig
  • I found awesome people to take on Ignite Denver

All in all not a bad year, some ups, some downs.

Denver Startup Week, as always was a great pleasure to help organize. It’s a week long celebration of the entrepreneurial side of Denver, that’s growing each year. It’s an exciting time to be in Denver, and I’m thrilled and thankful to be a part of such an amazing community and City.

GoCode CO is the first of it’s kind, multi city, multi month civic hackathon. Organized by the CO Secretary of State, it was a big pleasure to be asked to be a part of the team that executed this event. On top of being involved in all the primary events I was part of the team that ran the Fort Collins hack weekend. It was great, I worked with a member of the Sec. State and got to spend a weekend in the basement of OtterBox. GoCode is back in 2015, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be involved. Oh and the winning team? From Ft. Collins… not that I had anything to do with it, but since I was on team FoCo, i get bragging rights :)

360|intersect 2014, was the biggest fail of my professional life. I had a line up of amazing people (some I knew, some I hadn’t yet met in person) ready to share their passions, but I couldn’t get people interested. Several things worked against me, so I learned and am excited for 360|intersect 2015.

360|Stack 2013 was a dud. It was 2013’s big fail. I didn’t make it clear what it was about, I moved my focus from Flex too soon, and as a result an event I had planned for hosting about 300, hosted 100 (40 of which where speakers). I started 2014, owing 80k to the hotel we hosted 360|Stack at. Not a great way to start the year. I also learned that community doesn’t always support.

360|Flex 2014, was not an experiment, but was exploratory. Was there enough interest in what was left of the Flex community to do a Flex focused event. While it didn’t lose money, it didn’t make any, and while my heart is with the first event I ever organized, and what was the flagship of 360|Conferences, i decided that 2014 was probably it for 360|Flex. We brought it back for a last hurrah and everyone enjoyed it, but I think that’s it.

AltConf 2014 is something I love. In 2013 I sponsored with money. In 2014 lacking much spendable cash, I sponsored with my time. I volunteered the entire week; helping set up, being the safety monitor, and generally making myself useful. AltConf started (IMO) as a thing that existed along with WWDC. Something you could come to if you didn’t have a WWDC ticket (or if you did) but wanted to be in San Francisco that week. AltConf is now it’s own thing, the team behind it has worked hard to bring in amazing speakers, and provide an amazing (free) event for folks and really while it still happens during WWDC week, that’s more of an “oh yeah WWDC is this week too”. I go to SF that week now, to be a part of AltConf.

360|iDev 2014 in Downtown Denver. This was a big deal. It’s not that we didn’t like downtown it’s that downtown is expensive. We had used the same venue that while great, wasn’t downtown, for a few years. The time came to make a change. Almost a leap of faith, would enough people come, to justify the much higher costs associated with being downtown? Turns out, yes. 360|iDev sold out a full month in advance. We’ve sold out the last 3-4 years, but usually only a week before, sometimes only a day or two before. This year we spent the last 30 days focused on making the event great, vs. selling tickets. It was a bit freeing.

[360|iDev min] have been a mixed bag for us. We went to Vegas a few years back, it was meh. Nothing specific was wrong, just not the place for us. This year we tried going someplace we’d never been. Greenville SC. It was great. We had an amazing line up of people who spoke at 360|iDev in Denver and folks who hadn’t so the content was fresh and meaningful. It went great. So great we’re working on the 2015 version. It’ll be better than 2014! Stay tuned!

Hong Kong is a long ass flight from Denver. That said the trip was worth all nearly 30 hours of travel. What an amazing place. You can read about my trip here, but suffice to say for this post, it was time/money well spent. Tom is one of my best friends and it was a great chance for us to re-connect and hang out.

Amsterdam is one of my favorite places. Helped by the fact that three people I adore live there. Nicole and I spent my birthday in Amsterdam. The upside of going in February, no tourists. It was amazing and not crowded with americans :). The downside, it’s cold. it’s winter, LOL. Sadly all we got was rain, no snow. It was worth packing the extra layers though. Any opportunity to hang out with Mike and Judy and Samuel I’ll take. Spending 10 days in a foreign place with my awesome traveling companion and wife Nicole was also pretty great. I can’t imagine us not traveling together.

RWDevCon is my first time doing event consulting. It’s gonna be a great event, i’d say grab a ticket, but it sold out already. Ray and the raywenderlich.com team are great, the content he’s got planned is amazing. I’m excited to run this event!

I started Ignite Denver in like… 2009? I honestly don’t know, we’ve done some 20 events so far. Ignite Denver was the first Ignite event in Colorado, and up until this year I’ve been the head of the organizing team (sometimes that team was just me and Nicole). I’m super stoked that folks like Terry Cabeen, Dan Stones et. al. are involved and want to take Ignite Denver to the next level. I’m excited to attend Ignite Denver and not be the sole driving force behind it continuing. I’m immensely proud of Ignite and the stuff we’ve done, it’s only gonna be more awesome in 2015.

All in all, a busy year. Not without it’s challenges, but a good year. I hope yours was good, or at least didn’t suck too bad. I’m excited for what 2015 has in store for us all. See you there!

Denver Startup Week 2014 Review (Part 2)

This year i had the pleasure to be in charge of our headline events for the week (basically the 6-9 slot each day), and it went pretty well. Last year three of us manned the top spot, and it was kinda chaotic, and stressful. In the end it all worked out, but was exhausting. This year i decided to be more relaxed. Matt and Kerianne were on the team and between us we divided the headline events and empowered each organizer to make their event rock, and scream when they needed us. It mostly worked.

So what fell under my ownership?

The opening night Party (Elyse and Maggie executed it). It was awesome. Nearly a thousand people in the Union Station main hall, DJs, interactive street arcade games on the ceiling (Courtesy of Oh Heck Yeah!) and lots of tasty drinks. The entire event was a blast, and everyone seemed to really have fun.

Insight Night (Executed by Terry, Rick and Jared) was one of my favorite events. For a few reasons really. Based on Ignite, run by members of the awesome Ignite Denver team (Ignite Denver 18 is coming up soon, get your ticket now!), and taking what’s great about Ignite, and what’s great about DSW and mashing them together. I’m excited to see Insight Night grow and become a major part of the week.

The Startup Crawl (Rocked, by Elyse) was finally awesome. Each year it’s tried to be this massive city wide showcase, and each year it becomes this massive city-wide boondoggle. Elyse decided to limit it to those companies actually in downtown, and offer up spots at Basecamp by Chase for others from farther outside downtown. It was awesome. I stopped a few places, and each had lots of folks enjoying the hospitality of some of our most awesome Denver Startups

Denver Founders Network (Chris and soon to be dad Josh) is easy to work with. It’s an awesome monthly meetup and they know their shit. They had a great panel lined up. It was fun to watch.

The only day time Headline event this year was the Startup Resource Fair. Which was like a Job fair (which was awesome, packed and amazingly attended) but for service providers. I think this year laid some great groundwork for that being a cool addition to DSW. Cari rocked it this year. For the Startup Job Fair, a packed room is a blessing and a curse, but for sure show’ed how hot the tech job market is in Denver. Derek and Josh killed it as usual. Who doesn’t like a job fair with a DJ!

Lastly was the closing party, at Galvanize. Brady did her usual awesome job bringing food, drink and the Denver Startup Community together. There had to be over a thousand people inside and out of Galvanize, and it was amazing. Bumping into people who had a great week, were pumped about the community, and excited about next year. I even ran into an old co-worker from CA, who moved to CO after I did, and now works for a company downtown.

 

Anyhow, kinda long, but wow, Denver Startup Week 2014, was all kinds of awesome and amazing and I’m proud of the work the team did this year. See you in 2015!

Denver Startup Week 2014 review (Part 1)

What a ride.

Timing wise, this year was great, 360|iDev was behind me, [360|iDev min] (still time to buy your ticket!) was in front, and DSW fell in the middle. I was able to enjoy the week a lot more than i did last year.

I spent most of the week at the “Basecamp by Chase” (I think we have to call it that, LOL) and it was great; good internet, meals, and plenty of coffee (and beer in the afternoons). It was a great central place for me to work from for both 360|Conferences stuff as well as my DSW duties.

Basecamp was always a hub of activity, not only was there a lot of awesome programming taking place, but people were having meetings, folks were bumping into each other, etc. There was so much energy at Basecamp by Chase it was hard to not get excited each morning when I walked in. The politicians all stopped by for a visit, which is always kinda cool.

Oh yeah, I got to meet and shake hands with the Governor. Funny story…

I was overseeing the Startup Resource Fair, our only non 6-9 event, and I had just walked 8ish blocks at my typical fast pace from Wynkoop Brewing back to Basecamp by Chase. I knew the Governor was there, or had been. When i arrived Tami Door was outside and I joked about being inconvenienced by our elected officials dropping in willy-nilly. We chatted then she blurts out “Let me introduce you”

Oh crap! I had just power walked 8 blocks, os quickly wiped sweat and dried palms. Hick was making his way clear of the crowd and Tami jumps up and does the intro. We say hi, shake hands, Tami tells him my role in the week. We make a little small talk about the week and Basecamp by Chase. Then when you’d expect us to part, we don’t so now I’m standing there looking at Hick, and trying to decide what say next. I stammer a little more about the Week and such, babble about it being an honor to meet, and back away. All this happens while shutters are clicking all around me. That was fun..

So yeah, Denver Startup Week was awesome. I enjoyed being a part of it. I think Next year will be even more epic.

 

Would you like to mentor teams Competing in GoCode CO?

UnknownIf you didn’t know, i’m helping organize events for the GoCode CO campaign. It’s a pretty cool thing that the Secretary of State is organizing. It starts with hackathons taking place all over CO. Actually there’s a kick off event, but the fun starts with the hackathons.

I’m running the Fort Collins event (feel free to sign up!!) but there’s going to be events in Boulder, Durango, Grand Junction, and Colorado Springs as well.

The hackathons are the weekend of the 21st. Teams will compete around building apps around state data. Solving problems that exist now.

Here’s where you come in. We need mentors for a check in event that follows the hackathons. April 5th at the awesome Convercent office we’ll be bringing the winning teams from each city together to spend the day talking to mentors from all corners of startup’ness.

We’ve got a sign up form, here. We need about a dozen or so more mentors than we have at the moment. We want to make sure each team has the opportunity to talk to lawyers, business people, sales people, tech people, etc.

Unlike other hackathons, the winners don’t go home at the end of Sunday, done. With money and possible State contracts up for grabs, the teams that win the hackathons are just starting a journey that ends May 9th.

To make sure the teams are as supported as possible, this mentor checkin day is a big deal. If you have something you can share with aspiring new startups, please sign up, there’ll be snacks and coffee, I promise :)

If you’ve got any questions, just let me know.

My Hobby Isn’t Worth a Single Life.

I was at the gym the other night and this notion popped into my head. I was on a cardio machine and the numerous TVs around the space were covering the recent shooting at a high school in CO. It was incredibly sad to watch, whether it was teens rallying around a wounded classmate, or the sad statement from the devastated parents of the shooter. How do you reconcile the grief of loosing your child, against the evil he committed against others? I can’t even begin to imagine their pain.

This was the thought as it popped into my head. I captured it on my iphone so I wouldn’t lose it.

“If someone said kindles were directly responsible for thousands of deaths a year. I’d smash it on the ground and go back to reading paper books. I wouldn’t shift blame.  I wouldn’t posture about how it was the authors that were responsible or the readers. I wouldn’t propose half measures like making kindles softer or capable of loading fewer books. I’d smash it and never look back and be thankful so many lives were spared.”

I know that’s an over simplification but in many ways it’s not. I know a lot of ‘gun collectors’ who rarely if ever hunt. Not that i think hunting is an acceptable use either, but I can respect it as an activity. And frankly collecting guns is the same as collecting anything and in my case, it’s books. My hobby isn’t worth a single life.
I know guns is a hot button topic, and honestly I’m not interested in debating it, because I’ve come to terms with the fact that there’s no negotiating on this matter. This is my opinion, everyone is welcome to theirs. By all means leave a comment, but if the discussion turns nasty, I’ll shut it down. I just wanted to share an insight I had.

I hate asking for things, but

I need your help. Chase has a community grant program and to be in the running, you need to get 250 votes. I’m almost there, Just 60 more votes needed.

Once I get the votes, I’m at least in the running to get a grant from Chase for 360|Conferences. Why do I want it?

Well I want to grow my company. I want to do more events, explore more communities that would benefit from a dev conference focused on them, vs. selling a roadmap, or worse a product or service.

I want to be able to buy gear that will let me do my events in more places and not spend a ton of money on costly AV rental.

I want to be able to give to more causes I love (appcamp4girls, iOSDevCamp, Appsterdam, and Ada Academy, more!)

I want to be able to be more active in Denver’s entrepreneurial scene, by being able to support more things like Refresh Denver, Denver Founders Network, Denver Cocoaheads, and more.

It’ll only take a minute, please help me out and vote. THANKS!