Entries in ignite boulder (8)

Boulder Startup Week 2012 - Review

Reviewing anything I do is an inevitably flawed mission. My perspective is skewed not only by knowing waaay too much about what went down, but also by fatigue. Boulder Startup Week 2012 wore me out. If you didn't know, I've served as the five-day event's head organizer for the past two years -- guiding it from a creative, purpose and community standpoint.

It's a sprawling, distributed affair that requires loads of communication across many fronts in order to stay afloat. It concluded a few days ago, and I've laid relatively low in the meantime, gathering my wits with gardening gloves. Despite my current double-vision and hazy gaze, I wanted to jot down a few notes before they slipped from my memory.

What we did right:

  • Started early. According to my email records, we got started planning this business in December 2011. 
  • Added more team members. Last year's BSW consisted largely of myself and Ryan Wanger. This year, we added Elaine Ellis (on PR) and Sarah Jane Griesemer (on scheduling). If I were going to run 2013, I'd add even more folks.
  • Flew in more people. One of the big imperatives of BSW is to drive acquisition of tech talent. There are so many open tech jobs in Boulder that we decided to gather as many sponsor dollars as possible to fly in candidates with the hope that they'd fall in love with Boulder and move here. It's happened before. Last year we flew in 6 folks. This year we flew in twice that number. Shall we double it again next year? Yes.

What could use improvement:

  • Moar shirts. I made quite a few enemies after ordering only 200 shirts this year. Sorry, all.
  • We need to be a little meaner to people to ensure that the event's purpose(s) are kept in mind. Being a pushover is fine if you're hovering above a ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese. It's not fine if you're hovering over an alligator pit. Mo' backbone at all times.
  • Better RSVP system. We used Plancast this year and last year. It's easy, but it lacks a few items. I'm sure the team will track down something solid.

I wish I could say that I'll do everything I can to make Boulder Startup Week 2013 even better. I can't. I'm moving to Amsterdam and have left the event in other people's hands. However, I'm absolutely certain they'll bring the flava to your doorstep, drastically increasing the property value of your abode.

If you made it out to Boulder (or out of your house), thank you. If you didn't, circle the month of May on your 2013 calendar. Boulder wants your bones.

Ignite Boulder Sweet 16 

I let the dogs out.

Thanks to everyone who attended Ignite Boulder Sweet 16. And a super special HOWDY to Mary Rotman of O'Reilly, who came out to see what all the noise was about.

Ignite Boulder will return in December. The dog costume, however, will not. ;-)

All photos courtesy of Kia Ruiz. Gorgeous!

Ignite Boulder Sweet 16 Rehearsal

One of my favorite parts of any Ignite Boulder is the mandatory rehearsal we hold about two weeks before the event. As I explained in this lovely interview I did for the SlideShare blog on how to organize an Ignite event, rehearsal is critical to ensuring that the speakers are ready to bring maximum heat.

This photo may not look like much, but what it captures is hugely important: a roomful of people, earnestly working to make an idea better.

We're doing our best to make our Sweet 16 extra special. I hope you'll be there. (Tickets here!)

[Photo credit: Andrew Hyde]

Ignite Boulder 13 Recap

I believe in luck. And I concede that the number 13 is usually a harbinger of roaring disaster. So it was with a subtle timidity of the soul that I approached Ignite Boulder 13, perhaps our most festive event thus far.

We tried a lot of new things, often pinning our hopes on the community’s willingness to accept winking, well-intentioned change.

We wanted to make our sponsors a more significant part of the night, so we added interstitial slides with a sprig of humor. We wanted to loop in local stuff that we believe in, so we provided info tables up front. We wanted to create an atmosphere of winter whimsy, so we pushed folks to get all dressed up. We wanted to create a spectacle, so we added inflatable decorations at both ends of the venue.

It worked. It rocked.

I love how the event has developed over time and am eager to announce the date for the next one. (Working on it.) I talk about Ignite a lot in person (so I’ve been told), so I’ll try to rein it in as a New Year’s resolution.

It’s a big, brassy part of my life – you’ll have to excuse my ardor.

(Photo credit: Yann Ropars)

My Favorite Photo from Ignite Boulder 8

This is essentially the last thing I see before I launch into the opener at each Ignite. I look over at Andrew, wait for my cue, try to forget that more than 800 people are staring at me – and put my withered heart and brittle soul into each note.

Ef at Ignite

 Thanks to Matt Gist for the shot.

Ignite Boulder 7: Ponderings

Ignite Boulder 7 was our most successful and feverish outing yet. If you aren’t aware, I’m one of a small group of organizers of the event. We work absurdly hard to keep the whole thing in one piece so that everyone can have a nice night of listening, learning and laughing.

Here are a few thoughts. If you were there, I hope you had fun. If you were not there and live nearby, please explain why you would hurt me so in the comments.

Ignite Boulder 7 (10 of 50)

Artful heckling is rad; Clumsy heckling is bad
Not everyone is cut out to be a heckler. If you are clever and witty in real-life, you stand a good chance of being a good heckler. Bruce Wyman springs to mind. If you are only clever and witty online, odds are you’re going to be a lame heckler. Drinking exacerbates your shortcomings. So keep that in mind.

People need stimuli
I work in public relations. As a consequence, I think about people all day long. Audiences, demographics, consumers. I am paid to unearth ways to reach humans with something that will trigger a positive reaction. So it’s pretty apt that I regularly open Ignite Boulder with a blast of jolly nonsense (known as “The Sacrificial Deck”) that sets the tone for the evening – expectation, curiosity and surprise.

Powerpoint is poison
Whenever I describe the event to people, I see them get apprehensive the moment I mention Powerpoint. Yes, the event is essentially comprised of 15 or so Powerpoint presentations (for the record, we convert them to Keynote because it’s oodles cooler), but I really must stop describing it that way. I fear that many people don’t give Ignite a chance because Powerpoint is innately boring and there’s no way they would pay $10 for something like that. Can anyone think of a better way to sell someone on Ignite?

(Photo credit: Jason Janelle)


Ignite Boulder 6: Video Evidence + Voice Cracking

My performance from Ignite Boulder 6 has been posted to the Internets. You can view it below. My voice cracks. I forget my lyrics. I look a little dizzy.

In short, I am a deeply flawed, deeply silly boy.

Big thanks to Craig Kendall for editing the video and adding the sweet graphics.

The next Ignite Boulder is on December 10 - mark yo' calendars!

Ignite Boulder 5: Epic Achievement

In just one week, I have achieved the following:

The cause? Ignite Boulder, a local event that blends slideshow presentations with humor, social value and geek power. I had the honor of being on the planning committee for our 5th outing and pushed myself to make it our finest effort yet. That included amazing local media coverage, a concerted social media push and enough good ideas to make it work.

In all, 741 people packed into the Boulder Theater last night to hear presentations about corn, bacon, and magic. My contribution was a soaring musical opener that set the tone for the rest of the evening: energy, creativity and luck.

I still haven't come down from the high caused by performing for 741 people. I love Boulder and every single person that made it down to the theater for Ignite. I have seldom been in such a good mood.

Now here's a pic of me dressed as an "Igknight of the Round Table," taken only hours ago from the stage:

(Photo credit: Yann Ropars)