Friday, January 29, 2010

Startup Weekend Tacoma Starts Tonight

This is a reposting of blog entry I made on my own blog this week, but thought it would be good to include here as well.

Want to join a group of diversely talented individuals in order to suggest, plan and launch a potential business in a 54 hour period?

Here are the logistics to this weekend's get together.

Place: Suite 133 on Pacific Avenue

Derek Young and company are graciously hosting this weekend at their location. There sponsorship for these kinds of grassroots development and business efforts should be fully appreciated. They loaned out their digs for the first barcampTacoma and it worked quite well. Given the loose structure of the upcoming weekend, it is good to have had that experience under out belts.


Friday at 6:00pm. Arriving to the suite at 5:15pm or so I will have made my way down from my office at the Institute of Technology to the premises. We will hopefully have a critical mass of interested folks by 6:00pm, which is the official start time.

Saturday: We will start at 9:00am, but you are free to come and go as you please.

At 10:00am I will be going over a business plan template. I have started, ran or advised on boards for tech companies in the double digits, so hopefully I can impart some modicum of wisdom on the topic. Other speakers, a la barcampTacoma will be scheduled during the day.

Sunday: We will play it by ear, but at 11:00am, John Dimmer of the Tacoma Angel Network will be giving a talk on financing.

I anticipate Clint Nelson of one of the organizers of Startup Weekends will be there Saturday or Sunday, if they are back from New York from a similar event.

And that, my friends is about it.

Hopefully, we will launch a company or product at the end of that time.

How many folks will be there, I don't know. I have gotten email responses from at least one dozen folks so far, so that should make for at least two to three teams.

They first year that the 72 Film Festival ran, I remember hoping for at least three teams and even organized one myself. Twelve teams participated with eleven of them submitting films at the end of the weekend. If we managed half that it would be very cool.

What to bring:

Your enthusiasm. Your ideas. Your strengths and your weaknesses.

A laptop if you have one. Paper and pencils if you don't.

I will bring some water and soft drink from Costco for the offset, but we will be going out for meals and drinks on our own dimes. The official events that we will be exploring for late Summer or Fall have entry costs that cover meals and T-Shirts. I am all over the t-shirt idea but they will need to be an individual or group effort on its own as well.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Tech Support Infrastructure Grows

The William M. Factory Small Business Incubator is about to open their new wing serving applied sciences and information technology entrepreneurs.

The Factory Incubator, located at 1423 E. 29th Street (just off the Portland Ave. exit of I-5), is an incubator with a record of graduating over 200 successful companies.  Their current 30 tenants generate over $30 million in annual revenues.

The new wing is targeted at tech entrepreneurs.  The building has its own data and VoIP infrastructure, an internal fiber optic loop and is directly connected to T-3 backbone.  Technical support from incubator staff includes an IT engineer.

Additionally, there is free use of conference room, video teleconference capacity and low cost access to cooperating lab facilities. 

For more info, contact Tim Strege or 253-722-5800.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sitecrafting Creates Award

Today SiteCrafting announced the creation of the SHIFT Awards, an event which will recognize and honor technology application and innovation in the South Sound.
The event will take place Wednesday, March 10th at Theater on the Square in Tacoma. A cocktail hour will precede the award ceremony, followed by light appetizers and desserts. The event will be open to the public, although attendees must pre-register.

Award winners may be nominated by the public and will be chosen by an advisory panel of South Sound professionals. Winners will create and share a brief presentation about their company and/or technology related innovation.

For event updates, please visit here. More information will be posted as it becomes available.

SiteCrafting is an award-winning website design and web application development company headquartered in Tacoma, WA since 1998. With offices in Tacoma and Spokane, WA, the company serves clients ranging from small non-profits to some of the largest, most recognizable brands.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Where You Stand

For the thirteenth consecutive year, InformationWeek Analytics is conducting its U.S. IT Salary Survey. To date, over 160,000 IT professionals have participated in this survey.

If you complete the survey by this Friday, January 15th, you will also be sent a link to download the 2010 U.S. IT Salary Report once it has been published. This report will provide you insight into how your salary compares with your peers, as well as information on IT skills, training and culture.

You also will be eligible to enter a contest for prizes including a chance to win a grand prize of a Panasonic 65" plasma HDTV valued at $2,703, first prize of a Garmin nüvi® 850 GPS navigator valued at $727, second prize of a Sony home theater system valued at $484, or third prize of a 32GB Apple iPod touch valued at $298.

Information Week is only collecting compensation information from IT professionals working in the United States.

To take this year's survey, please go here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Spotlight on Local Tech Companies

Andrew Fry, UWT Institute of Technology has made real one more idea that came from the SST 2009 held late last year at his university.

During afternoon panels, it was suggested that one tool for the local entrepreneurial community of individuals to network and to know what industry is here, is to build a knowledge base of those companies.  Andrew, who had announced earlier that day, suggested a regular blog spotlight on the Tacoma metro companies, would build that base.

Well!  Andrew has published his first company spotlight, and he is promising to post a spotlight weekly on his blog, Living and Working in a Virtual World.  In just a short year, by the next SST in 2010, the local entrepreneurial and technology sector, should have a substantial knowledge base. 

That knowledge base should help our local entrepreneurs, our local tech-savvy personnel and our tech industry.  Way to go Andrew!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Puget Sound Small Businesses Are Wired

Local small businesses are utilizing company websites and other online tools more than the national average.

Puget Sound, good job. You have done something that the majority of businesses across the nation aren’t – marketing their business online. A recent survey conducted by a graduate student at the University of Washington’s Masters in Communications and Digital Media (MCDM) program shows that nearly 82% of small businesses in the Puget Sound have a website. Other surveys conducted nationally show that only 44% of businesses are online(1).

The difference between the sites is not only the industries their businesses represent, but also how they are created. Practically 46% of small business owners hired out the creation of their site, while the other 54% employed various methods. The most popular choice was the help of a website, followed by the help of software, templates, raw programming and help from a friend with experience.

So, what does this mean for you?  As a marketing and branding professional, I see two main takeaways from this survey for small business.

First, your website alone is no longer enough. The online listings for businesses through searches on sites like Google, Bing and Yahoo are becoming saturated and making it harder for patrons to find you. Optimize your sites potential by utilizing other online tools like blogs, social networks and micro-blogging. Content on both Facebook and Twitter is now appearing on search results in Google and can no longer be considered a fad or simply a trend. By engaging with consumers through these channels and others will show them you’re authentic and willing to work for their business. The types of conversation to promote through online technologies need to be original and beneficial but do not need to be of expert quality.

Second is that with such a heavy saturation in the Puget Sound of businesses having an online presence, something about your site has to be better then the next guy. How you get there can be done through various strategies. Maybe you need to not only present your companies contact data on your site, but start to contribute informational articles for your customers about new products or “how-to” techniques. Integrate a more solid brand presence by doing a simple redesign with uniform layout, colors and text styles. It could also boil down to being honest with yourself about not having the knowledge base or time to build a presentable website and your ready to hire a professional. Where ever your sites at, don’t neglect it. By not strategizing and brainstorming ways to build your web presence, you are literally turning away customers. You wouldn’tlock your door during business hours would you?

The Puget Sound is unique in a lot of ways, and the way your are doing business is no different. With almost 82% of businesses having a website, business owners cannot afford to think they’re online therefore, they’re covered. Almost half of these sites are being professionally developed, so the need to present your business in a unique and trustworthy manner is more important here then if you were doing business in another part of the country. Don’t let your website or any other online tool sit idle. Employ them daily. By simply setting aside 10 minutes of each day to converse through your chosen channels, a business can increase authenticity, increase their ROI for their web strategy and grow their customer base.

Guest Blogger:  Scott Loughran is a Marketing Strategist and local entrepreneur, currently working on a dot com. Having worked with Fortune 500 and small businesses alike, Scott brings a diversified perspective that is based on applied common sense. Dedicated to the success of local businesses, Scott consults companies with various needs and is well networked for those situations outside his expertise. The survey mentioned above was managed by Scott for his graduate work at UW MCDM and can be contacted through his site.

(1) Are you really connecting? (2009, March 23). Furniture/Today, 33, 2-2. Retrieved November 4, 2009, from Business Source Complete.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Washington's Innovation Summit 2010

Washington Technology Center is pleased to present Washington's Innovation Summit 2010 at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center on April 9, 2010 from 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.  The Summit will bring together the region's leading companies and thought leaders -- such as CEO, scientist and astronaut Dr. Bonnie Dunbar -- for a full day devoted to accelerating creativity and innovation.  Breakout tracks for 2010 are aerospace, defense and energy.

In recognition of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber's assistance, the WTC extends to individuals of the member firms of the Chamber a 5% registration discount.  Use the discount code: "TacomaPartner10" to apply the 5% savings during registration.  Please click on this link to learn more about the Summit and to register. 

The Summit's flyer and agenda are also posted immediately below this blog entry for your easiest access.

Washington's Innovation Summit 2010