Friday, October 30, 2009

Building a Tech Company in Tacoma and the South Sound

Are you an entrepreneur in the making? Do you have the next big web 2.X idea and just need to fill in the business, finance, marketing, sales and development holes to launch the next Google, Facebook or Serra Media?

Well, your timing is good. Over the next few months there will be plenty of discussion, networking and resources to help you flesh out a business idea, make the necessary contacts and launch your company here in the South Sound.

To whet your appetite you might review the Exit133 post from September on the topic "What is the Condition of Tacoma's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem?"

Also, the Tacoma Angel Network is partnering with six other angel groups for a MIT Enterprise Forum startup demo. You can read about it on the TacomaTechConnect blog.

Plans are in the works for a 72 hour startup weekend in January of next year. If that interests you then talk to me about it at...

Entrepreneurship in the South Sound - Creating Connections

The South Sound Technology Conference, held November 20th in William W. Philip Hall, will start off with a presentation and a panel, both of which you budding entrepreneurs do not want to miss.

Bruce Kendall, CEO of the Pierce County Economic Development Board will talk about entrepreneurship in Tacoma and the development of downtown. His presentation will lead into a panel of professionals, investors and experts that I will moderate.

Brian Forth, SiteCrafting
Graham Evans, Washington Technology Center
John Dimmer - Tacoma Angel Network
Derek Young, Seasonal View
Mark Briggs, Serra Media

Some things of note from this group include:

Sitecrafting continues to grow as a company and recently launched a Spokane office. Brian frequently hosts meet ups and networking events for developers and clients at his company.

Graham will talk about the Washington Innovation Summit which is held annually and next Spring is being hosted by Tacoma.

John Dimmer is an experienced investor and entrepreneur in his own right who is an Entrepreneur on Campus at the University of Oregon and a judge of their business plan competition (as well as my former business partner and high school classmate).

Derek is not only the founder of Exit133 but has recently launched Seasonal Views.

Mark is the former interactive content editor for the News Tribune and author of Journalism 2.0 but is currently building the company he started last year, Serra Media.

Wow. I mean. Come on. Don't you want to hear these folks impart wisdom?

If you do, register for the conference because there are a limited number of spots for the event.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Washington Clean Tech Open Gala

I have written about the Clean Tech Open before, but as a refresher, here is a blurb that they supply about themselves.

The Clean Tech Open is a catalyst for clean tech innovation. A non-profit organization founded in 2006, it provides today’s clean tech innovators with the tools, training and connections they need to become tomorrow’s viable clean tech businesses. The core of the Clean Tech Open is an annual regional business competition, supported by expert volunteers and mentors, that provides entrepreneurs with the crucial business training, services and insights they need to successfully go to market. The Clean Tech Open has assisted dozens of companies in raising nearly $140M in funding, and spurred the creation of hundreds of jobs in California. Fueled by a network of over 400 volunteers and sponsors, the Clean Tech Open unites the public and private sectors in a shared vision for making America’s clean tech sector a thriving economic engine. Past alumni successes include Adura Technologies, Cool Earth Solar and GreenVolts.

This year was the first in Washington, and 56 companies presented. I know that at least two or three were from the South Sound, though unfortunately none made the finalist list. But, and this is an important but, there is always next year. In fact, it is expected that the Clean Tech folks will be part of the morning breakout session at the SST Conference on November 20th, to discuss Clean Energy and Sustainability. More to the point, how companies and people from around the South Sound can prepare for next years Open.

If you want to know more, they are throwing a gala next week on Thursday the 29th at the ACT Theater in Seattle.

Here is more info on that:

Join us at the ACT Theatre in Seattle for the culmination of the first Pacific Northwest Clean Tech Open business competition where we will celebrate the region's most promising clean technology companies and announce the three 2009 Regional Finalists. The three Regional Finalists will have been selected from an initial pool of 56 companies who entered the competition in May 2009. Each will receive a prize package consisting of cash and in-kind services, and all will continue on to compete against finalists from other Clean Tech Open regions for a national prize of $250,000!

Attendees have the chance to speak with the semi-finalists and meet other key regional players in the clean tech industry at a networking reception with drinks and hors d'oeuvres in the elegant Bullitt Cabaret. Enjoy the keynote presentation by a featured leader in the Clean Tech industry, hear from Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire, learn more about the Clean Tech Open's plans for 2010, and join us in enthusiastically recognizing our Regional Finalists as we send them off to the National Competition!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Catching Up with Mark Briggs

Mark Briggs, co-founder and CEO of Serra Media stopped by my class yesterday and gave a number of interesting updates on what has been going on in his life since leaving his position of editor of interactive news for Tacoma News Tribune.

Serra Media continues to grow its customer base even in a down economy. They have not only added several newspapers who are running their "Newsgarden" solution, but have also expanded into crowdsourcing information for shopping deals.

Newsgarden is a social news mapping platform that helps newspapers build community and creates new markets online for them. Already in use by several Washington city papers as well as the Cedar Rapids Gazette, it is being trialed by many others with the potential for a significant increase anticipated.

And as is the case in entrepreneurship and launching a new company, an opportunity presented itself to leverage their platform for a distinctly different use. In a chance meeting with a columnist and blogger from the LA Times, Serra Media was able to create TownLuxe for the Bargain Babe LA site. Bargain Babe Media partnered with Serra Media in July to launch a destination for local bargain hunters to share deals and other shopping insights with local shoppers in the Los Angeles area. There are more locations on tap to launch the TownLuxe solution.

You may be familiar with Mark from his earlier work on both evangelizing the need for newspaper reporters to adopt more interactive and web based reporting tools. He began teaching some web basics, exploring and commenting on the use of blogs and social media tools such as Twitter as speaking on the topics. This led him to write the book and launch the blog Journalism 2.0 - How to Survive and Thrive.. The book has been a success and has been downloaded over 100,000 times in PDF format.

He has a new book out, which will be available for purchase in November of this year called Journalism Next: A Practical Guide to Digital Reporting and Publishing. This book is geared more as a teaching text and I wish him the same success as his first title.

Mark still lives in Tacoma and commented on Exit133 the other day that he wished there were more developer and entrepreneur meet ups here in the South Sound.

We will cover that topic in greater detail on November 20th as he has joined the panelists discussing "Entrepreneurship in the South Sound" at the SST Conference held in William Philip Hall on the UWT Campus. More on that panel at a later date.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tag Cloud of An Exit133 Conversation

Exit133 is pretty pleased with the conversation going on via a post that started with one small twitter comment. To date there have been over 120 comments posted on the topic "Rethinking Downtown Tacoma". The tweet in question was

Tacoma should rethink it’s downtown. Preferably before everyone leaves.

and was posted by Janine Terrano, the CEO of Topia Technology. A Tacoma success story both as an individual and as a company.

Reading through the large quantity of commentary from a wide variety of posters peaked my interest in how this conversation might look as a Tag Cloud. For a short primer on tag clouds, read here. The result is not very elegant, but was quick in the making thanks to MakeCloud. Along with creating clouds from text, they also provide code to create a cloud from your blog.

Larger text means greater emphasis and a more frequent use. I am not that excited to see that "Don't" was the first tag in the cloud, as it seems a bit negative. However without context, which is not provided here, it could just as well come from the phrase, "don't be a hater". Note that streetcars, Tacoma, light rail and downtown are all emphasized.

I would like to see it in a more graphical format, phrasing included and a center point of the key elements. Plus the links only go to Google searches.

But until then, it is interesting in and of itself.

don’t change parking requirements whole downtown plan seems we’re yet moving being sure problem city council it’s people perhaps reason piece coming market tacoma wants posted oct think possible connect tacoma’s neighborhoods streetcars they’re system lots less buildings block large building never once pedestrian businesses can’t enough streetcar buses everywhere anywhere street cars neighborhood day goes take you’re without continue send means always step away walking there’s planning david koch convention center shopping time support retail place live portland seattle built move instead potential 000 idea put routes signal priority traffic everyone else done tacoma1 i’m i’ve happen morgan got talk talking long next needs love isn’t small business streets bigger than land etc anyone drive stores urban years understand level many someone stops few something thinking provide vision around rather actually getting already nothing that’s comes i’ll least outside area university real issues plans options even transportation near might town close waterfront 6th regional maybe mass transit reasons lot still used areas density huge light rail park within dome walk development trying find great future pretty bus allow leave home using station anything because give cities let stop try doing too north roads cool didn’t work connecting help ever somewhere south ride mofo hood hill commerce bad tcc however high pierce money increase feel times own days having projects build agree looking entire plaza together uwt funding point college far life car above say during service avenue minutes along year district stadium population county same sound million tax authority create lid side space project cost local economic demand end broadway save elks sense while i’d keep janine kind mind post both start hopefully major current mall line defiance currently ideas hotel erik foss design mile saying mean free access easy store important ave popular successful brewery aren’t learn route ridership won’t dedicated efficient expensive federal remember imagine caring worth about? jesse lightrail vegas speed funds tag cloud

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

APWG eCrime Summit in Tacoma

eCrime is the internationally focused topic of discussion next week in Tacoma and the discussion has never been more timely. (Check out Mount Rainier in the background of the graphic). Here is a few words from a recent Anti Phishing Work Group report that came across the Reuters news network.

I found it timely as I received to phishing emails today in my inbox. One from a poorly formatted "B a n k of America" site and one from an online payment company. Both bogus of course.

LOS ALTOS, Calif. and CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(Business Wire)--
The APWG`s latest Phishing Activity Trends Report illustrates electronic crime`s innovation and apparently unchecked ambition with new records being reached for such felonious instrumentation as rogue anti-virus software, phishing websites
and crimeware designed to target financial institutions` customers.

The APWG H1, 2009 report found that the numbers of detected rogue anti-malware programs, fake security software that actually infects computers to animate assorted electronic crimes, grew 585 percent between January and the end of June 2009.

Some of the more interesting data points from the report.

Highlights of the H1, 2009 Phishing Activity Trends Report include:

● Unique phishing reports submitted to APWG recorded a high of 37,165 in May, around 7 per cent higher than last year`s high of 34,758 in October.

●The number of unique phishing websites detected in June rose to 49,084, the highest recorded since April, 2007`s record of 55,643.

● The number of banking trojan/password-stealing crimeware infections detected increased during more than 186 percent between Q4, 2008 and Q2, 2009.

● The total number of infected computers rose more than 66 percent between Q4 2008 and the end of the half, 2009 to 11,937,944 - now more than 54 percent of the total sample of scanned computers.

● Payment Services became phishing`s most targeted sector, displacing Financial Services in Q1 & Q2.

So with all this going on, what are we going to do about it. How can we combat it or even keep it in check. These important discussions are going to take place in a city that is active in industry supporting data integrity and information assurance and educational institutions doing research and education to promote cyber security awareness and defense.


As the report concludes.
Those members and researchers from around the world will be considering the results of the H1, 2009 report at the eCrime Congress | Tacoma on Oct. 19-21, a three-day event that combines the APWG`s General Members` Meeting (member-restricted) on the 19th and the eCrime Researchers Summit on the 20th and 21st, (open to the public) a peer-reviewed research conference on electronic crime that the APWG holds annually in conjunctions with the IEEE Standards Association.

Note that there is an open to the public segment on the 20th and 21st.

Barbara Endicott-Popovski, one of the adjunct faculty at the Institute and the Director of the Center of Information Assurance and Cybersecurity at the University of Washington will be on the panel and many of the Institute students and faculty will be in attendance.

Our friends at Internet Identity were an instrumental part of getting this conference here and putting it on.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Show People do "Curtains" at the TMP

photos by Kat Dollarhide

I am excited to be heading into the second weekend of performances for Curtains, at the Tacoma Musical Playhouse. The musical is set in 1959 Boston, Massachusetts and follows the murder investigation of cast and crew when Jessica Crenshaw, the supremely untalented star of "Robbin' Hood of the Old West", dies during her opening night curtain call. Making things more interesting is the clever and competent detective in charge of the case, Lt Frank Cioffi, who is just as interested in seeing the musical succeed (while falling for a young starlet) as he is in solving the case.

This is an ensemble piece and the cast is full of great characters and talent. I have worked with almost every member of the cast before on other shows and am having a wonderful time working with them here. In "Curtains" there are two stories playing out at once, the show within the show, "Robbin Hood", which has been savaged by critics and in need of a work over, and the whodunnit of the murder. Highlights from "Robbin Hood" feature some great dance numbers including amazing young talent in numbers like "Thataway" and "Kansasland".

Anyone and everyone who was part of the curtain call of in the first scene of "Curtains" finale of "Robbin Hood" is a suspect, including the Producers of the show Carmen and Sidney Bernstein, the backer Oscar Shapiro (me), the esteemed director Christopher Belling, the once married song writing team of Aaron Fox and Georgia Hendricks, the stage manager Johnny Harmon or any of the cast members, including lead dancer and choreographer Bobby Pepper and starlets in waiting, Niki Harris and Bambi Bernet. To make matters worse, they have to contend with horrible opening night reviews, including one from the Darryl Grady of the Boston Globe, and an intrusive investigation led by Det. Frank Cioffi

Sooooo... quick lists
These are the actors playing the roles mentioned above. To give a sense of how theater people build friendships and connections I am listing (guaranteed incomplete) shows that I have done with them in the past.

Carmen Bernstein : Karen Christensen (vocal powerhouse)
Babes in Arms
The Phantom Tollbooth
A Musical Mystery Dinner

Sidney Bernstein : Darrel Shephard
This is my first time working with Darrel but I love what he is doing.

Oscar Shapiro : Andrew Fry
This guy is hot or cold depending, but I have done every show with him.

Christopher Belling : Jon Douglas Rake
Radio City Music Halls - A Christmas Carol
Jon is the artistic director of TMP so many shows directed by.

Aaron Fox : Gregory Conn
South Pacific
The Producers

Georgia Hendricks : Heather Malroy
Pinocchio (I was the Fox, she was the Cat) great song.

Johnny Harmon : Chris Serface
The Wind in the Willows (I was a Toad, he was a Rat)
My Fair Lady
The Phantom Tollbooth (he directed)
The Producers

Bobby Pepper : John Huddlestun
My One and Only

Niki Harris : Ashley Coates
The Producers
My One and Only

Bambi Bernét : Hailey Hays
The Producers

Daryl Grady : John Miller
South Pacific

LT Frank Cioffi : Mark Rake-Marona
The Boys From Syracuse
The Fabulous Fable Factory
My One and Only

And for good measure:

Randy Dexter : John Hunstman who sings "Kansasland"
Big River

So when we sing "Show People", pictured above, early in the first act, I am certain we all relate to the sentiment and to the experience working with each other throughout the song.

It is an honor and a joy.

One challenge I was concerned with at the first rehearsal was that many of the scenes take place on the stage as simply that, the stage. The set is the stage we are on and when you are used to rehearsing with set pieces it can throw you off the top. But it didn't take long to accept it as the stage in Boston in 1959 where the previews of Robbin Hood were being held.

When they rehearse the numbers from the show, the set pieces reflect those of the show within the show, and I have heard a number of comments from folks who have seen the show that they were impressed and entertained by them. But then, "who doesn't love red."

There is also a scene played behind makeshift curtains, which is a hoot to say the least. Here is a picture.

Prior to that, Jeffrey Stvrtecky, who along with being musical director and orchestra conductor, plays Sasha Iljinsky, a character in the show. The audience last Sunday loved him.

As for going to a show. You cannot beat a live orchestra, and once again the folks in the pit at the TMP do a engaging, wonderful job.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Getting Back to Blogging

It is amazing how transitory technology solutions are. The minute you think one has made itself a permanent nest in the online ecosystem something else comes along and tramples the habitat.

Friendster was the early winner in social networks, to be eclipsed by MySpace, which was pushed to the side (not entirely) by Facebook, which is making interface changes based on the surge of Twitter users. LinkedIn looks to be in a sturdy spot, but there are online business relationship and connection social networks hoping to get traction.

And with all of this, there is the real world as well.

In that real world, my class Living and Working has started up again, and it is time to reduce the FaceTwittering that has taken up the little online time that I have had, and time get back to blog posting. There have been opportunities to post no doubt. I have been sent articles and emails with suggestions that have been interesting and on target, but my momentum was stalled this Summer with many diversions.

So, expect more. Whether it is a discourse on the power that Twitter users have over the companies that hire marketers to listen in on comments or upcoming conferences such as the international eCrime Conference taking place in Tacoma on Oct 19th. Back to blogging.

Hopefully you have seen the press release from the EDB about Infoblox renewing its lease in Tacoma for another six years. Growing from sixty...