Tag Archives: Ignite Denver

Technology and Conferences, finally some good

Last week was Ignite Denver 7. You can read all about Ignite Denver on the blog, but among all the numerous new things we did to reboot Ignite Denver, we used technology.

It worked awesome!

There were two things we used, Eventbrite’s iPhone app and the Square reader and iPhone app.

First eventbrite’s app

The Upside

It worked really well. We loaded the Ignite Denver account onto Nicole and Shelly’s phones and as people came for Ignite, we were able to to check them off. It was great not needing printed lists, and sharpies to cross off names, etc.

It was great that one phone could see who the other had checked off.

The downside

I doesn’t show “will call” people. Or rather it shows them but doesn’t indicate that they still need to pay. The printed check in lists, put an orange highlight with a note about needing to pay at the door. The iPone app doesn’t do that so folks who don’t remember or choose not to remember that they need to pay, slide right in. Not a really big deal, since there’s ever only a few of those types of tickets at Ignite Denver, but I can see that being a problem for other events.

Square Reader

When I first got my Square at WWDC, I figured I’d have little to no use for it. Maybe we’d be the only garage sale around that took credit cards, but otherwise I couldn’t see many uses. Until we decided that to continue existing, Ignite Denver had to charge $5.

We used Eventbrite, to sell tickets, but always (unless we sell out) sell tickets at the door. Normally it’s cash (or check) only.

This time we could take credit cards, and it rocked!!  I actually wish we used the iPad app, which supports custom “items” but it was still easy to use the iPhone version.

I will say this, the android version. SUCKS. We tried to use it first and got nothing. No user feedback, etc. switched to the iPhone version and it was cake. “swipe faster, bad read” Etc. it was easy to get it figured out.

We didn’t sell a bunch of at the door tickets, but it was nice to just be able to accept credit cards and be done with it.

The app worked great, as did the service. We might have even convinced the theater to look into using Square vs. their existing, expensive POS system.

Over all I’m very very happy with our use of technology, and look forward to using these tools at our larger events. Especially Eventbrite’s app.

How does iThoughtsHD have this and Apple doesn’t?

One of my biggest complaints with the iPad is it’s complete lack of usefulness for content creators. I understand, creators are not Apple’s biggest market, or even a group the ever seem to care about, Shoot, they make “Consumer electronics” LOL.

Still there’s so little that would have to be done to make the iPad SO incredibly awesome for creators, and open doors left and right. I know it’s possible, iThoughtsHD (iTunes Link), a great mind mapping app has already done it!

When building a mind map, like many tools on the iPad, you can save off to the cloud somewhere, box.net, dropbox,etc. Unlike many apps, and all Apple apps. You can load from cloud.

It’s that easy. They did why didn’t/hasn’t Apple?

I caved, and paid $10 for Pages. Complete waste of money. I edit a lot of pages files. Sponsor packets,etc. All the time. I’d love to pull one up on my iPad, edit, and without having to think about plugging into iTunes, copying the files out of iTunes back to my iDisk where they live, overwriting the old one.

Pages, and most apps, come kinda close, you can access the file, pull it in locally, make edits, but then you’re stuck, the document is trapped in the iPad and iTunes.

Why not make the iPad apps (at least the Apple ones) more connected to Oh I dunno, say Apple’s own cloud services. iWork.com and mobileMe. Some of us (still) pay for mobileMe hoping it’ll mature and actually be useful. I have no idea what iWork.com is for, but it seems like it’d make perfect sense to tie the iWork iPad apps (maybe the new iLife ones too) to Apple’s own (though dropbox, et. al. would be nice too) services to extend their usefulness.

Please Apple here my plea! The iPad is great for games and consumer shit, hook those of us who create up! It can’t be hard, a third party did it! You can too!

If it looks easy, it’s not

It’s weird (both flattering and a little insulting) when people look at what you do, and think, “well if he’s doing it, I can do it” vs. possible partnership, etc.

Sure there’s a part of all of us that wants to do things on our own, or own way. But in business especially I think that’s a kiss of death more often than not.

In particular I’m talking about conferences. I’m pretty good at it. I find interesting people, technical experts, etc and get all together under one roof. It’s a ton of fun, I wake up every day loving it. The actual days of the event, I’m moderately calm and collected, because I have my shit together. I obsess, and freak out up until the first day, after that I’m reasonably sure I’m good to go.

So yeah, the days that people actually see me, I’m happy, I’m talking to people, hanging out an joking. That doesn’t in any way shape or form, mean the 6 or so months leading up to that aren’t full of stress, craziness, and working my ass off.

Yet somehow it’s caused at least a few folks I know of to decide they want in on the action. Fair enough, after all, it’s business.

It’s business!

You don’t go into business without a plan. Heck, the first 360|Flex, wasn’t a business, it was a one off, a completely lark. After that Tom and I realized it was fun and we enjoyed it, and other people seemed to like the event. THEN it became a business. A not profitable business the first few events.

This ain’t the field of dreams!

You can’t just say, “Hey everyone! I just made up a new event, come on out” and expect to be a success. Well if you live in Boulder that seems to work ok, otherwise not really. You have to get people involved, wrangle speakers and sponsors, etc. I’ve seen one event almost implode costing the organizer a buttload of money because it seemed they thought, that just organizing the event was enough. That people would flock from near and far to attend. I’ve also seen a recent event (most likely, sadly I’m the only conference organizer that believes in transparency as far as I know) lose a ton of money because the organizer didn’t realize how much everything costs, didn’t realize how much to charge attendees, etc.

I’m no expert, I don’t intend to stop learning, but I did learn the hard way, what works and what doesn’t. I’m still learning that.

What really irks me about this “problem” is that not only does it impact my business in the short term, people choosing that event over mine (when they’re in the same space) but it hurts consumers/attendees, and even sponsors. They waste their money on what turns out to be a less than awesome event, with little chance of repeating, and are now jaded.

Thankfully I have a history of success now, but still, kinda bums me out.

Oh and if someone tries to tell you conferences are dead, just turn around and walk away. They’re either an online event snake oil peddler, or out of touch with the realities of business and events.

Just sayin.

Looking Forward, Looking Back

It’s been an interesting year. More so than normal years. It’s also the end of a decade, so I’ve got some thoughts on that too. Fair warning. This is a longy.

Decade first:

in 2000 I worked for a company that was basically an IT Staffing firm that decided to get into software. I worked internally on a web app that would (in their terms) revolutionize staffing. I bailed, they failed, it was 2000, that happened a lot to a lot of people and companies.

I spent most of the 2000’s as a programmer, first doing ColdFusion, then moving to Flex. It never occurred to me to try out M$ tools, or any other. I liked Macromedia (Now Adobe) offerings and stuck with them.

I was my own boss several times as an Indie contractor, and was a cube monkey several times. Each (except one) was a good experience, a ton of fun, and formed lasting personal and business friendships.

I bought my first house in Perris CA, and my second in Riverside CA. Both were awesome in their own ways, despite being an hour or more from where I worked.

Most importantly, I met my wife Nicole.

We met thru a mutual friend whom I used to work with years past, and she was currently working with (Props to Scott Dunn for the intr0)

We moved to Denver. We were supposed to move a few months after meeting. Before I proposed, even. She had an opportunity to come out to Denver, and I had no major ties to CA. That opportunity dried up, and re-emerged 6 months later, and here we are.

We bought a house in Highlands Ranch, before we realized what Highlands Ranch was. 2 years after that, we moved to downtown Denver.

I started a conference that was supposed to be a one off, just for kicks event. It’s grown to be 3 distinct events, a few one off events around the world here and there, and my full time job (more in 2009)

2009

I’ve gone full time, totally dependent on 360|Conferences for income, lost a business partner, brought Nicole into the business, learned how to use Quickbooks, stopped writing code, just to name the big ones.

Going full time with the conference business wasn’t part of the plan, not in 2009 anyway. I was at EffectiveUI as the Community Evangelist, sadly a position, not enough of the company was on board with. When i left, I decided, well if the conferences are going to support me ever, they might as well start now. Since taking the job at EUI, i had stopped writing code, well I wrote a little, building small apps for internal/sales use, but by and large, i had stopped being a full time developer.

So I jumped. Eyes wide open.

All in all it’s been what I expected, stressful, awesome, a struggle, the best decision (Next to marrying Nicole) I’ve ever made.

Tom leaving was a shock in many ways, though I suspected we wouldn’t stay partners thru 2010, I just wasn’t sure how it would come down.

Our approaches to business are too different. When we’re “on”, we’re “ON” a totally creative innovative powerhouse. When we’re “off”, we’re “OFF” sadly we were off more than on.

After dealing with the shock and other feelings associated with going from partnership to “just me” basically, i had to learn to use quickbooks. That ain’t fun. I’m fairly comfortable with book keeping but quickbooks is a kludge IMHO. But oh well it’s what we’ve got. I’ve paid a book keeper to clean the books up, then I’ll take 100% ownership of that.

What am I looking at for 2010?

360|iDev will over take 360|Flex as my biggest event. Short of Adobe being more supportive of it’s third party developer eco system that is. If they figure out how to make third party developers thrive on their platforms, 360|Flex will grow. 360|Flex will and does rock, but there’s a distinct lack of love for third party tools built on and around Flex. That will be HUGE.

Apple may not give them love, but they at least don’t hinder their third parties.

360|Mobile, which was the ill-fated InsideMobile will grow and become it’s own thing. I’ll keep it small, but the non apple mobile space is hot, and quite frankly exciting, I can’t wait to see what’s going on there.

360|Whisperings will reach critical mass. Of the small amount of content on the site right now, it all sells monthly. A few purchased only, but something. The day I write checks to the authors, will be a huge day for me!

I’ll have a reliable, livable income coming from conferences/events. The business will reach an as yet unattained level of stability.

I’ll spend more time with Nicole, we’ll do more fun things, travel more, and enjoy life and each other’s company even more than we already do.

I really want to see The Flex Show grow. jeff and I love doing the show, and I want to see more the Flex Community get involved.

i’d like to do some more Denver community stuff. Ignite Denver is going strong, and I hope 2010 sees it grow and become a staple of the community. I really want to see something eventwise around literacy. A Festival of Books, something.

IgniteDenver October 14th

I’m back again with Ignite Denver. We’re rocking Casselman’s again! October 14th!ignite_denver

For the most up to date info, make sure you follow the Ignite Denver blog, that’s where speaker and sponsor announcements are made, etc.

We’re looking for help! Ignite Denver is looking to grow from a 2 people operation, to a committee run deal! We need more awesomeness to grow Ignite Denver!

Denver, raise your hands! Get involved!

Ignite Denver 3 Lineup

I posted the line up for Ignite Denver 3 on the Ignite Blog, but wanted to post here too. Nicole and I went to check out the Irish Snug the other day and meet with the Manager. Very impressed with the Snug. I know the single biggest problem with past Ignites Denver has been the venue, and hopefully I’ve made it clear, it’s an experiment. Denver is too big and too cool a place to settle on a college classroom, when there’s so many great places. Unfortunately that also means we try some ‘less than cool’ places. I think the Snug will make amends for the last two venues!

We’re going to have some seats setup in the front area nearest the screen for folks who just want to sit and watch. Behind the screen will be tables and such for the folks that want to chit chat through the entire event (there’s always a few, and usually they’re also the “this isn’t Ignite Boulder” complainers). The audio is piped through the rooms speakers, so there shouldn’t be an “I can’t hear” problems.

I’m torn on weather to have a brightkite wall. thinking I’ll set it up before we start the presos and during the break, but will learn from Refresh and not have the wall up during presos, LOL. Not a good idea.

  • Booze on the Brain! (or the neuropharmacology of alcohol)
  • Does This Make My Ass Look Fat?
  • Ignite the entrepreneur within: 50 Interviews
  • History of Rome (For those have have been to Ignite Denver 1 and 2, RJ promises he will not have family trouble and scheduling conflicts! He swore it on the flying Spaghetti Monster.)
  • Trinkets and Nuggets about the Modern Japan
  • The Similarities Between Emperor Palpatine & Our History
  • Leveraging the Internet To Land a Book Deal
  • Pie and the contemporary psyche
  • Mucking Out Your Inbox: How to Be More Productive with Email
  • Toys for relieving stress in the office
  • Slammed Doors and Phones: Or the Saga of a Young Organizer
  • How a Video becomes Public Access TV in a Web2.0 World

There’s a few tickets left, and if we sell out I’ll have to actually have some one man the door and check names, and do the whole waiting list thing. Make sure you RSVP, we’re gonna have a good time. Ignite is an excellent time to meet people you might not otherwise meet in your regular circles, which is reat because it opens so many more doors and opportunities.

Ignite Denver 3! in the works!

ignite_denverIgnite Denver is set up for May 13th!

We’ll be at the Irish Snug, watching some awesome, interesting people talk about awesome interesting things.

Ignite is a fun time for all. If you’re in Denver, and reading this, you should definitely RSVP. It’s gonna be fun.

If you think you’ve got something cool, interesting, education, or downright mind blowing awesome, submit a topic on the uservoice site!

Spread the word!

Irish Snug
1201 E Colfax Ave
Denver, CO 80218