This weekend the Startup Weekend tradition continues in Northern Arizona at SWNAZ. Not that you should need any excuse to leave Hades, ahem, I mean Phoenix right now but here are five reasons you should make the trip.
- Avoid spontaneous combustion.
- Meet cool people The people that attend Startup Weekends are the do’ers. Talkers stay home for these events. The participants here are the folks who make stuff happen and from experience, these people are the ones worth knowing. This will be my 5th Startup Weekend and each one has hands-down had some of the awesomest people I’ve met. Oh and the guy who invented Startup Weekend is flying all the way from Zurich coming out of retirement to facilitate this event. No big deal.
- Learn while building There is simply no better way to learn than by doing. You will be exposed to folks from all disciplines including business folk, engineers, designers, SEO experts, social media gurus, investors. Startup Weekend is basically a cauldron that forges friendships and skills at an impossible pace. The first one I went to in San Francisco blew my mind, as did the subsequent one in Chandler and then once again in Los Angeles.
- Put some wheels to your idea This is probably the single best chance to take that business idea you’ve had collecting dust and finally get it built. You’ll have the opportunity to convince a room full of people with the talents and drive to make your concept a reality. More than a handful of companies have launched at these events and gone on to raise funding as venture-backed startups. Not only is this an opportunity to get your idea developed but it’s a stage to get attention and get that initial PR to get it noticed.
- Have fun on the cheap. Seriously, for the price of a modest dinner date in Old Town Scottsdale you’ll get transportation up on a bus with the fun folks from CO+Hoots, meals throughout the weekend, free stuff like a copy of Andrew Hyde’s Travel Book plus rumor has it we’re taking this bad biscuit out on the town Saturday night. I guarantee that nowhere in AZ this weekend will people be having as much fun as the attendees at Startup Weekend.
There’s still a handful of seats left and when they sell out attendance is capped. If you’re ready to lock in your seat, escape the heat and have one of the most memorable weekends of the summer, register here and we’ll see you up in Flag.
Big thanks to the folks at NACET for inviting me to present to their people on the basics of outsourcing. Here’s the Ustream of that talk:
You can get the slide deck here
. Many of the graphics in the deck are linked to their corresponding remote resources. NACET
is a great resource for entrepreneurs in AZ and at 75deg the temp is right especially this time in AZ. We just carved out a new cowork space at their facility and it’s now open for folks who want to beat the heat and work up there for the day. Also put the weekend of Aug 11th on your calendar as they’re hosting Startup Weekend Flagstaff. Should be a great time to get out of Phx and build stuff up in the pines. Rumor has it they’re sponsoring a shuttle up there leaving from CO+Hoots
and they’re mixing in fun night activities like a guided tour of the famous local breweries – stay tuned
I went paintballing with a group of 11 guys this past weekend in the desert north of Phoenix. It was the third time I had ever been and we all had a blast. It was surprising how many people were up there – probably close to 100 when I was expecting about 10… Anyways, while the experience was killer, there’s a simple tweak they could make to take it to the next level.
This particular operation (or any other savvy paintballing outfit) should add a premium feature to their game play. They should learn from skydiving and offer helmet cams and then sell the footage back to the players. I don’t know what the exact economics would need to be but quick googling shows there are sub-$100 waterproof cameras that could easily be mounted on the players masks. Take it a step further and put a close-circuit TV in the deadman box (place where people accumulate after getting shot) , have the helmet cams transmit wirelessly in real-time and broadcast gameplay live from multiple angles. Affix helmet cams on all referees and make it truly cinematic with the ability to see the final firefight showdown after you’ve been shot.
Once you’re knocked out it’s still fun to come back and debrief with other folks in that area but you know you’re missing a crazy final battle that’s happening out of sight. It would incredibly badass for them to add this real-time window into that action without too much cost or extra effort required. The other benefit is that they’s then capture all that footage to a hard drive daily and have the ability to burn you a DVD at the end for $20 ($50?, $100?).
This paintball place doesn’t need more players – it needs a way of extracting more money from their existing player base and making the game more memorable to drive repeat business.
There is an absolute opportunity here to offer something extra that makes the experience more engaging while simultaneously giving the paintball company a high-margin new product to sell for essentially no cost. And the byproduct is footage they can not only sell on-site, impulse-purchase to the players but also to build up a knowledgebase or have fodder for educational DVD’s, to acquire highlight reel film for their promo collateral or best yet: post it to FB on players’ behalf and offload all their marketing costs to them. All of that drives more repeat business and higher-margin business. We used Groupons for this outing but if this place builds up their organic crowd they can cease the Groupons and keep the full price for themselves…
Anyways below is some point-of-view footage I took from my iPhone on one of the rounds we played if you want a flavor of what it’s like. In 3min I managed to run into a cactus, jam my gun, cap some guy in the head and then take a barrage of cross-fire myself. Good times.
POV of Paintballing in the AZ Desert from Sean Tierney on Vimeo.
Here’s a simple proposal: if you’re calling yourself an Angel Investor at an event, you should wear a standard name tag that gives an objective measure of some basic facts about your “nutritional content” as an Angel.
At least in AZ, the term “Angel” seems to have been co-opted by anyone who has ever bought a piece of real estate. After holding a piece of dirt and making money, these people are somehow magically imbued with divine powers to forsee why your technology startup won’t possibly work (and they’re happy to prognosticate about it).
I was at an event last night helping a friend pitch his company and one of the panelists (who shall remain unnamed) made the repeated feedback to the presenters that “you didn’t specify what my return will be.” Sir, frankly if that’s the only feedback you have for these entrepreneurs pitching their early-stage, pre-revenue technology startups, you do not deserve the title Angel. Go buy a treasury bond and the bankers will happily explain what your return will be.
At this stage in the search for the repeatable scalable business model, companies have no f’ing clue what the return on your $50k is going to be. And it’s a silly tapdance you put them through when you force them to fabricate and justify one. The idea is to make it as big as possible – we all agree on that right?
If you’re a VC adding fuel to a finely tuned business model where the formula has been determined and tested, by all means ask the entrepreneur to calculate and substantiate what the return will be. At that point that exercise makes sense. But at this pre-revenue stage by asking this question you’ve self-identified yourself as being unsophisticated, focused on the wrong motivation of Angel-stage investing and frankly you’re not someone whose money I would want at that point. At the Angel stage the entrepreneur has demonstrated the ability to create a product which appears viable. You’re funding their search for the repeatable scalable business model, not putting gas in the engine of a working model. Think of it as a more interesting/rewarding alternative to throwing your $50k down on a craps table in Vegas. If you’re treating it like a blue chip stock and can’t afford to lose that money you shouldn’t be doing Angel investing.
Note: I’m not proposing regulation on Angel Investing, I’m proposing a standard for Angels self-reporting some basic traits to the folks who are pitching you. This objective label would do two important things: 1) for the budding entrepreneur, it gives him/her the ability to assign a level of credence to the words coming from the person telling them why they’re going to fail. 2) for the Angel, it forces them to admit publicly how many deals he/she actual does at the end of the day. The guy with the “Deals last year = 0″ label on his breast pocket will likely think twice next time before he publicly craps on a guy starting a company for the first time.
I don’t usually use my blog for this type of thing but if you’re in Phoenix, AZ and are in the market for computer equipment, musical gear or furniture check out the virtual yard sale below:
I recently moved my office and residence and have a ton of stuff that I’m selling cheap. I’m out on the 1st so as the cheesy sales guys on TV say “Everything must GO!” Some of the more noteworthy stuff that might interest fellow nerds:
- 300lbs of technical books (that’s right, measured in lbs not qty – O’Reilly and many others)
- Guitar gear: Line 6 150W amplifier and a Lexicon effects processor
- A pair of Klipsch computer speakers with sub woofers
- Brand new pair of Audiotechnica noise canceling headphones
- Cannon MP500 multi-function printer/fax/scanner and HP Photosmart 7960 printer
- Wooden slatted futon with cushion
- Matching maple desk, file cabinet and bokshelves
- Maple full-sized bed with mattress
There’s also a mountain comprised of every computer and sound cable ever made plus plenty of other house and office items I didn’t have time to photograph. I’ll be camping out there playing car salesman tomorrow so call if you have any questions and make an offer if you see something you like – 602.492.4218.
TempeNerds got its 300th member today. This is a monthly lunch gathering I organize to bring together techies from Phoenix Metro. The thinking is that the better we know each other’s talents and businesses, the more we can make appropriate referrals. This group has been growing steadily since its inception a year ago and saw a significant influx of new members with the last lunch we did at Terralever.
Groups like Nerds, Geek ‘N Eat, Gangplank activities and Reopen Phoenix are badly needed to compensate in metro areas like Phoenix that suffer from massive urban sprawl and fragmented communities. If you’re here and know a fellow techie that hasn’t been to one of these group events, follow the action on Eventification and bring that person out to the next event. Help the nerds prevail.
We. Are. SpartaaAAAAAA!
Any other worthy local tech groups I failed to mention?