December 3rd, 2009
Peter Bodenheimer and I went up the the Web 2.0 Expo the week before Thanksgiving, and spent the week hanging out with some pretty impressive folks. It’s clear there is a lot of energy in the NY startup scene right now, it reminded me of the first FOWA conference in 2006 where the Web 2.0 energy was palpable in San Francisco.
It’s important for me and Flatsourcing, TribeCon, and Launch Pad to be connected to New York. As strong as the New Orleans startup movement has been, its critical we maintain our direct ties to innovation hubs like Silicon Valley & New York. We need to know what they are up to and vice versa. In this post, I’ll summarize some of the exciting things we saw and people we met. In addition, I’ve got a proposal that I want to float to continue to build our ties to NY.
First, what we did and what’s happening in NY:
- Monday night we went to Ignite NYC and ran into Elliott Adams (good to see the state going to these conferences). This was my first Ignite, and we saw some great presentations in preparation for the launch of Ignite NOLA in February which Adele Tiblier and Chris Boudy are leading the charge on.
- Spent Tuesday hanging w/ Andrew Hyde, he’s just ran the NY Marathon and is hard at work on his new startup which I’m trying to twist his arm into locating to NOLA. (He hates winter weather. Advantage: NOLA)
- Watch the keynote by Tim O’Reilly for a great overview of the state of the web. He’s concerned that we may be entering another “closed garden” period.
- Chris Brogan was surprisingly Zen in his presentation, but and great. It reiterated to me how great it was to have his co-author of Trust Agents at Tribecon. Favorite quote: “The difference between audience and community, is which way you turn the chairs”
- Having the tweets running on the screen behind the speaker blew up with the final keynote. IMHO this is a bad idea, and I was glad we didn’t do it at TC.
- Tuesday night Pete and I went to the Net Neutrality Tech Debate at IAC. It was fascinating to see the policy makers who will shape the FCC legislation debate in this forum. Thankfully, the need for net neutrality won the debate with the more convincing argument.
- On Wednesday we went to the Launch Pad to watch startup pitches by 5 companies: Foodspotting, Apstrata, Earth Aid, Neighborhoodr, & Set Jam. All the pitches were strong, and it really pounded home to be how tight a pitch needs to be and how well the constraint of 5 minutes worked.
- Baratunde Thurston brought down the house with his keynote on Wednesday: “There’s a hashtag for that” If you watch one thing I’m posting, make it this.
- The conversation with Caterina Fake (founder of Flickr) was interesting for her commentary on the NY tech scene, and the reasons why she chose to locate her new startup Hunch in NYC.
- I really enjoyed the conversation with John Borthwork, founder of Betaworks. This is probably the most startup company/incubator going right now, and is an inspiration for me for where I want to take Voodoo Ventures. If you like Tweetdeck & Bit.ly, you’ll like where he thinks the web is headed.
- Wednesday night we met up with Mike Karnjanaprakorn, its exciting to hear about the success of By/Association and his understanding and use of the importance of mystery, human curation, and exclusivity.
- He soon spotted a check-in from Foursquare founder Naveen Selvadurai at a nearby bar. The power of Foursquare to connect people was quickly evident as it seemed every startuper in the city was there within 15 min. Chatted with Tantek Celik and Richard Blakeley. I think I finally grokked hype-local from Richard. Basically, the concept behind Neighborhoodr, is that the more granualary you slice a community the more you care about it. You may not care about everything going on in New Orleans (perhaps just the tech scene), but you care about everything going on on your street.
All in all a great week. I know the bullets review like an itinerary of “here’s what we did,” but I’m trying to convey the energy we felt being up there. Some of the clear concepts were mobile, hyper-local, and simplicity of concepts. I heard on more than one occasion from people that they hear “New Orleans has something going on…” but they all wondered “who was our signature startup?” Who is our signature startup? Not just a company that we all know about… a startup that everyone knows about.
So, what about the NOLA -> NYC connection you mentioned?
Well, we’re conjuring up an idea, and though its not ready for launch yet, I am interested to get feedback on it. It is based on a conversation that Brian Oberkirch, Perry Chen and I had at TribeCon. The idea is theirs, I’m just hoping to help implement it:
A visiting scholar program for startups.
The idea would be to bring startup CEO’s down from NYC to NOLA to work here, interact, mentor, and learn about what people are doing down here, and then take that gospel back to NY with them, spreading the seeds of what is happening here. Basically a direct, personal, mentorship and marketing program.
Take it a step further, and reverse it, sending Louisiana startup CEO’s up to NY to work, learn, and engage. Then we’ve got the sharing going both ways.
Economic development agencies like GNO & LED are already spending a lot of money on familiarization tours. I wonder if a program like this would qualify under that kind of budget? My guess is that using the lean, mean, startup fundamentals we all know so well, that we could create a very effective program.
What do you think? Would you support a NOLA-to-NYC visiting scholar program?
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