Tag Archives: Ignite Denver

Ignite Denver Turned Twenty-Five

Last week we held another Ignite Denver, number 25. I hadn’t really given it much thought, we do three a year, the team is awesome and I love them immensely. This one was set to be every bit as awesome, we’d sold out, had great food trucks lined up, had great speakers ready to inspire and amaze.

Then.

Dan gets on stage and starts talking, and as I lean over to Vanessa, to ask why he’s vamping, and where’s Kat our emcee, I realize what he’s doing. This awesome group of people, behind my back, decided to bring me from the background to the fore.

Before I finish that story though. Ignite Denver is eight years old. In eight years we’ve held 25 events all around downtown Denver, from bars to event spaces to our current home, a 500 person old-timey theatre in the Highlands. The team has changed over the years; starting as just Nicole and I, then growing, then contracting over the years. This current committee is amazing and solid, and despite personality differences, busy (REALLY busy) lives, we get together and pull off an amazing show that leaves the audience laughing, crying, and inspired. They’re also stuffed with good food and beer.

We started in a small side bar at Fado, where the most memorable part was a robot falling off the bar. From there we hopped from bar to bar to event space, to bar. We landed at the Oriental a few years ago, when it was still more creepy than not; sections of the ceiling falling in, HVAC failing the day of our summer show, etc. The theatre has grown with us, now booked more nights than not, and Ignite Denver either sells out or gets close every event now.

Being a part of the Denver Community all these years has been awesome! Meeting so many amazing people with things to share, has been inspiring.

It’s been amazing, and more than once I’ve thought about throwing in the towel.

Ignite Denver WhiskeyOk back to the story, so Dan is talking about me, and telling me I have to go on stage. I get up on stage, and Dan proceeds to talk about Ignite Denver’s start, and the changes over the years, and the consistency of me. Then gives me two really amazing gifts, from him and the rest of the committee.

I’m not a whiskey drinker (that’s what that is right?) But it will definitely sit on a shelf proudly, because that label!

Also two special, “never to be made again” shirts :) We just ordered a new run of shirts for the team, and apparently we slipped these in.

To say I was (and still am) touched is to put it lightly. Ignite Denver has been a labor of love since I sent the first “Wanna do a talk that’s five minutes and the slides advance automatically?” emails eight years ago.

Here’s to 25 more!

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!

Bike to Work day is June 27th!

If you’re not in or around Denver/Boulder this doesn’t really do much for you, you can stop reading.

Ok that’s done. So… Bike To Work Day. Nicole and I have participated in Bike to Work day for I think 3 years now. It’s an awesome event, and a fun morning. Even though I worked from home and now work from Uncubed, the coworking space I run, I still go out and “bike to work” because it’s awesome. Denver is a bike city. And it’s great to see so many other cool folks on the road doing what (usually) they do anyways, but with a celebratory edge.

The day starts with riding around downtown Denver stopping at various stations for breakfast and energy (courtesy of great companies!) and ends with an awesome party at Cactus.

I threw a banner up on the side bar, click that and check the site out, it’s a great reason to go outside!

See ya around town!

2011 in review

I was traveling by car from Denver to Vancouver WA during the holidays and didn’t get much laptop time. A blessing and a curse for sure :) but wanted to take a few minutes to put down my thoughts on the year that just ended.

It’s been a roller coaster for sure, in both good and bad ways.

Continue reading

We’re all busy, stop saying it and do something

I see this on twitter, and in real life face-to-face conversations a lot, “blah blah, working on something awesome, super super busy” or some other fairly douchey version of that sentence. Typically said by the same people over and over, as if saying something like that makes you cool, as if repeating it somehow makes you cooler. Maybe being busier than the rest of us makes you feel better? Hate to break it to you but you’re not busier than us.

I have something to share with you ‘busy’ people. We’re all busy, just some of us are busy doing shit instead of just saying it. Shut your pie hole, and get shit done!

I’m sure it’s a ‘for lack of more interesting things to say’ type of problem, but really if you’ve got time in your startup or whatever to tweet about being busy… you’re doing it wrong. Run your damn business, stop telling us about it.

I have no respect for people who say (or tweet) that type of thing. As if running 360|Conferences, Cocoa Magazine, and everything else I do, didn’t keep me busy, you don’t see me telling anyone who’ll listen how many hours a day I put in, what time I get up or go to bed, etc.

It’s simple, when you think to yourself, “Oh I should tweet some cryptic tweet about how awesome I am because I’m really busy, and that will make people think i’m even cooler…. STOP don’t do it, take 30 seconds… breathe, then get back to work.

sometimes you want to quit

As is typical of life, I’ve had this blog post sitting in a Safari tab to be written about. I’m in a blogging mood today so I sat down to talk about this post, and turns out it’s a company who just signed on as a sponsor of 360|Flex. There’s no real correlation, but I like that my interests intersect those of the people I work with.

 

360|Conferences is a weird startup. Well not really, but in the circles I travel it is. People I know and interact with are starting the next foursquare, the next yelp, etc. I’m running a services business, organizing conferences. Something that very few do outside publishing companies… I am in a venture with two friends, that while not in stealth because that’s lame, there’s just not much to talk about yet except to say go here

I’ve wanted to quit several times. Back when my business partner was Tom, and even more recently when it was just Nicole and I. Whether it was the fickle nature of speakers and attendees or sponsors who I give my all to, to support them, and who in turn also sponsor events that treat them like just one more logo on the site.

 

I stole this from Jason’s post (which if you haven’t already, go read in it’s entirety!)

This graphic really sums up the experience for me, so far.

It’s a roller coaster and I wouldn’t trade, but like all things theres lots of lows, to slog thru if you want to succeed.

The post is a good read and I’ve had similar experiences where the value of my product (the conference, my email list, the attendees) has been under valued, and bargained for, and where I’ve had to choose the high road or the low. I’ll be honest I’ve chosen both, but am now more comfortable taking the high, and living the the nagging feeling i chose wrong (even when I know I didn’t)

Tom and @GaryVee made my day

Tom was at a Thank You Economy reading last week, and stuck around long enough to chat with Gary. To my surprise and pleasure, they talked about me, and 360|Conferences.

We’re in our 5th year. They (i hate ‘they’ and if I meet them they’re getting punched in the neck) say most startups don’t make it past the 5th year. This year is truly going to be 360|Conferences’ crucible. We’re doing 3 events (plus a few of our smaller things) and if they don’t make enough money to buy out Tom’s interest and pay me a salary that’s livable… That’s probably the end of things.

This post isn’t doom and gloom tho, quite the opposite. This the year I’m rocking the business. Sponsorship for 360|Flex is the best it’s ever been, even when we were doing two events a year. Attendance while lower than I’d like, is going well and there’s still a few weeks for the fence sitters to realize what they’re missing. 360|iDev is already 1/3 sold out, so that event is likely to be a complete sell-out show!

This short clip is why I’m doing what I’m doing, it meant a ton, more than I can express to have Tom ask Gary for his thoughts, and to capture them on video for me. If you think I don’t play this video every morning, you’d be wrong.

I love what I do for many reasons.

1. I want to support the Flex and iOS/Mac (and maybe Android ;) ) communities. I want to give them a place to share and learn that’s about them, not someone else, not about greed and milking attendees, etc.

2. because I want to have the free time (i know that comes later, LOL) of running my own business, to work where I went when I want so that Nicole and I can enjoy our lives together

3. Because I want to become financially stable in this business to be able to grow, maybe hire people and contribute to the economy, and most definitely start taking vacations with my family again. For the last several years those have been back burnered.

 

I can’t wait to say hi to Gary when he comes through Denver in April.