Tag Archives: Denver

360|iDev 2015, What an amazing thing we did.

So i just finished my big event of the year, 360|iDev and wow. What a rush (as always).

TL;DR; So honored to share a room with so many awesome people being awesome. Making amazing things, being parts of amazing teams, etc. I honestly feel this event not only has a positive impact on my life each year, but also does on others, which is humbling to say the least.

There’s an amazing photo pool here.

Now the long form.

I start planning 360|iDev the moment the preceding event ends, so yes, I’ve already begun work on next years event.  A 4 day conference with 55 speakers, 400 attendees and a handful of sponsors isn’t something that comes together in a few weeks.

There were a few good, and one bad thing this year. One of the things I like about doing 360|iDev is that we bring about 400 people into Denver, more than 85% of whom aren’t local to CO. Many who aren’t local to the United States. Sure when compared to city wide events, that’s nothing, but to me it’s a big damn deal.

360|iDev is my bread-n-butter. It keeps enough money coming in, my wife hasn’t forced me to get a job… yet, LOL. I get to see people from around the world that i may only see once (maybe twice if I’m lucky) a year. I get to show off my home town (by claim, if not birth), and show everyone why Denver is so awesome, why it’s where I’m where I am.

There was a lot of great stuff this week, much of it conference specific, so I’ll talk about it on the conference blog, but some of it more personal and Denver specific.

Lunch (good)

Last year we ate lunch outside the hotel because yeah $50/person for conference lunch is stupid and well hotels are often stupid. One place however can’t handle 400 ppl, no matter what they think or say. Lunch last year wasn’t awesome. Long lines, long waits, etc. As experiments go, it failed.

This year I had 3 (4 on Tuesday because of Civic Center eats) options for attendees. Lunch tickets were available for each place, people picked what they wanted to eat. It was awesome to see groups form on the fly each day to explore someplace new. We spread the lunch tickets, so no single vendor had more than 150 people a day. So far (bills are still coming in) it looks like i spent half as much this year as last, and had 3x more options for people. That’s awesome!

The only thing that went a bit sideways was my failure to account for vendors not being open on weekends. Out of 3 only 1 was open on Sundays. Oops.

Local Community (good)

One of the things being downtown has afforded was the opportunity to spread some money around vs. bottling it up in a hotel chain. This year we spread about $18,000 to local restaurants in the downtown area. I think that’s pretty awesome, i know i’m not a rain maker, but i think any time I can give money to local businesses, that’s a great thing. Not only am i not paying for over priced hotel food, but I’m boosting (in a small way, sure) the local economy.

While small, i think every dollar helps. I think as a conference organizer, it’s my job to not just dump money into the pockets of a massive hotel chain. It’s my job to better the city that is hosting my event. Whether that’s financially or even just from exposure like not keeping everyone indoors all day and night.

Police (Bad)

During lunch on Tuesday, the attendees ate lunch at Civic Center Eats. A few attendees were enjoying their meal on the grass when some Denver PD officers came over. Sadly instead of assuming these folks weren’t criminals, vagrants or some type of malcontents, they treated a group of international visitors to Denver like criminals, demanding they all present ID while telling them they were sitting in the wrong grass. Not cool Denver PD, not cool. I get we’re trying to revitalize the grass in the park, but maybe wrap that section in tape, vs. the handful of tiny ass signs. Also maybe, just maybe assume people (wearing conference badges, even!) aren’t trying to kill the grass or break the rules and start with “Hey guys, can you move elsewhere, this grass is off limits for now.” vs. oh i dunno, accosting people eating their lunch, making them all present ID before letting them go.

back-side-black-textAs someone who brings people from around the world to Denver, i’m not super thrilled that happened. Small incident, yes? bad experience for people in Denver the first time ever, yup. In the end we all joked about it, but is that really what Denver wants people to remember about it?

I have much respect for law enforcement, I know their jobs are hard, but that’s not an excuse. Be better please Denver PD.

If you’re one of this years’ attendees, thank you, really, truly, thank you. Being able to do this event, and make even a small living is huge! I can’t thank every single speaker, sponsor and attendee enough for being a part of something so truly amazing. Conferences are hard, harder still when balancing making a living, with making an awesome experience. I already can’t wait until next year.

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!

Just Vote

I don’t really care who you vote for, though I certainly hope you align with me :)

Really though, i don’t care. I care about Americans being so apathetic we sit around, bitch about political ads, bitch about whomever is in office, and then come voting day, we’re “too busy”, “Don’t care enough, the other guy’s gonna win anyway, the news said so” etc. We’re often our own worst enemy.

On Columbus day I saw tweets going around about taking Columbus day as a national holiday and giving it to Native Americans (which is certainly better than Columbus day) but the one I liked the most, make Election day a national holiday. 

Remove the biggest excuses for low turn out.

Until that happens, though, it’s on us. I’ve voted in every election since I turned voting age. I’ve asked to leave work early, I’ve waiting in hour plus long lines. It’s important to me.

I wish my voice carried more weight, I wish we put .. well all things, above who can spend the most, maybe someday we will. Maybe when voter turnout nationwide is closer to 90% than 60% (honestly I was surprised it was that high) the will of the people will matter.

All that to say, please vote. If you live in a state (Like CO) with mail in ballots, you have NO EXCUSE. You’re a terrible, person, and worthless ‘merican if you couldn’t even put a stamp on an envelope or go for a walk and drop the ballot in a box. If you have to go to a polling place tomorrow, I sympathize, but still urge you to do it. You may not think your vote/voice matters, but it’s hard to ignore a chorus.

GO VOTE.

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.

 

Some common fails in events

So I went to an event over the weekend, and frankly it was a 100% absolute shit show. No lie, it was packed to the gills with fail.

And there wasn’t any reason for it, other than poor planning. Like I said, events are easy.

In no particular order, here’s a few pointers to make sure your event rocks.

  1. Have an ID checking line? don’t have vendors checking IDs, have them looking for marks and/or wrist bands. It slows everything down needlessly and pisses off everyone. Why did i wait 30+ minutes in this line if i could have waited 30+ minutes AND ended up with a beer!
  2. Prepare vendors, make them aware of expected attendance, even if it’s a wild assed guess. Overage is never fun, but it’s better than shortage. Donate it, give it away free the last 30 minutes, whatever you want to do, but running out of your product in the first 40 minutes of a 6 hour event…. big fail, and 100% avoidable. I will never give my money to that vendor now.
  3. Free events are hard to gauge expected attendance. Add in weather, location, etc. It’s tough. Guess high. An event in a public park? An event with an active user base? Guess high. Have an RSVP list, use it as a gauge and bump by several factors (depending on when you cut it off, or whatever makes it “stop”).
  4. Is the event largely to move something of yours? Have enough of them!!! My main reason for going to this event (Other than being supportive of a cool sounding event, and the people who organized it) was to get a certain product that was advertised as “Come here and get it at the pre-sale price” and by the time I found the booth (Still in the first hour the event was open) the product was gone, sold out, but I could put my name on a list in case they get more, or i could not give my money or support to you ever again.
  5. Having food trucks? Have more. Food trucks are tough. Pick trucks that can move food fast, and have as many as possible. Prepare them for attendance, then remind them every time you communicate with them so that they don’t forget or ignore you. This event had four (That I recall), and each (remember this is the first hour of a six hour event) had a line almost 100 people long… in 40 minutes.. wonder how long the food lasted?

I had RSVP’ed online which entitled me to my first beer bring free. I spent about 20 minutes in line to get my ID checked, after asking those around me what the line was for, and sending my wife up to the front to investigate. Then another 15 to get my Beer ticket. I couldn’t buy more beer tickets from this booth, it was just to get my beer ticket, so my wife was going to have to wait in the beer ticket line which looked at least as long as the ID check line. We walked to the beer tents, those lines were each about 70+ maybe 100 people and was also checking IDs. I opted to not have my free beer, then we walked the row of booths on one side, first one that looked like tasty food, “Sorry guys, we’re sold out”, Oh ok, weird this thing just opened. Get to the food trucks, hundreds of people in lines. We’ll eat later. Head to find the thing I want to buy, almost can’t find it (there was a tent with hair dressers and shit in it, and when we shoulder our way to the booth, “Oh sorry, all sold out”

Next year it won’t be on my calendar, I certainly won’t recommend it to others. Totally avoidable.

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.