The Big Red Startup Machine


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I gave this talk at an awesome little conference called QCMerge, in Cincinnati, OH, in May, 2013.
My goal for the talk was to send the audience home with a tangible action item - something each individual could take away and DO. Assuming *some* portion of the crowd accepted my challenge, my hopes are that this talk will directly result in a better community for the Cincinnati area and its surrounding communities - i.e., more successful entrepreneurs and startups, leading to a stronger local/regional economy.

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The Big Red Startup Machine

  1. 1. hi!@timfallsTuesday, May 21, 13HI! I’m tim@timfalls on twitterThanks for having me!
  2. 2. Tuesday, May 21, 13I grew up in Indiana and attended undergrad at Indiana University.
  3. 3. Tuesday, May 21, 13I move to Boulder in 2008 and still live there.
  4. 4. Tuesday, May 21, 13My introduction to tech and startups came through my job at TechStars.
  5. 5. Tuesday, May 21, 13From there, I started working with SendGrid.I’m the community guy.I lead a global team of Developer Evangelists.We’re building community, through developer and startup outreach.
  6. 6. Tuesday, May 21, 13We do emailWe’re transitioning from startup to grown up company.Some stats on SendGrid:•100k+ customers•7B+ emails/month•130+ employees•Offices in Boulder, Denver, Anaheim, Providence RI, Romania, London.Elmer will tell you more about the email side of things, tomorrow during his workshop.
  7. 7. Tuesday, May 21, 13SendGrid = day, night, weekend job.But i do some other things, too.**Note: This is a black slide, to keep the audience’s attention on me, the speaker :)
  8. 8. Tuesday, May 21, 13I co-founded a company called BoulderBeta dot CO.
  9. 9. Tuesday, May 21, 13We produce a startup event called BoulderBeta, which showcases 10-ish companies to 400+ community members each event, several times peryear. Founded in 2011.
  10. 10. Tuesday, May 21, 13Brad Feld asked me to write subchapter in his book, Startup Communities, telling the story of BoulderBeta. I draw from this book in this talk.
  11. 11. Tuesday, May 21, 13I co-organize Open Angel Forum in Boulder, helping entrepreneurs and angel investors find each other.
  12. 12. Tuesday, May 21, 13Sometimes I’m a geek on a plane.Previously I’ve visited, LatAm, Middle East, and India.Next stop: Southeast Asia, in June 2013.
  13. 13. helping community happenTuesday, May 21, 13Through all of this - my team and I help community happen all over the world.
  14. 14. Tuesday, May 21, 13What does that mean?How does one “help make community happen”?
  15. 15. Tuesday, May 21, 13I/we *go places*
  16. 16. Tuesday, May 21, 13I/we *meet people*.
  17. 17. Tuesday, May 21, 13I/we *build relationships*.
  18. 18. Tuesday, May 21, 13Armed with all of that, I/we connect dots.We understand and identify the connections that need to be made, and we make them.
  19. 19. Tuesday, May 21, 13I’ve now painted picture: who I am and why I’m talking to you about startup communities.Now, on to the important stuff!
  20. 20. Tuesday, May 21, 13Let’s learn more about YOU!Who writes code? Who doesn’t?Who is a startup founder or employee?Who is a student or works “on campus” ?Who works for a larger, established company?
  21. 21. COMMUNITYTuesday, May 21, 13I’m here to talk to you about community.This word is rather generic and has many meanings to different people.It’s an expansive topic; for example, we’ve already heard on other speaker talk about community today.So, I want to expand upon Nate’s message (previous speaker) and push everyone toward an understanding and appreciation of the power ofcommunity at every level.Generally, I want you to be able to apply the lessons learned during this talk directly to your specific personal situation.Specifically, I want you to walk away with tangible action items that you can enact and make a difference.
  22. 22. Tuesday, May 21, 13In the 1970’s the Cincinnati Reds were a force to be reckoned with.A good skipper - Sparky Anderson - and future hall of fame players - Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan.5 Division titles, 4 League pennants, 2 World SeriesBut one year, 1971, they failed and had a losing record.Just like a startup failure, this is where you learn - in failure.
  23. 23. Tuesday, May 21, 13So why is this guy from Indiana...probably a Cardinals fan...
  24. 24. Tuesday, May 21, 13...the truth comes out!...
  25. 25. Tuesday, May 21, 13Why is he telling us about our baseball history, and what does it have to do with anything?There are important lessons to learn from Big Red Machine - especially from 1971.The Cincinnati startup community has momentum and an opportunity to officially position itself on the startup map.*It’s important that each of you understands your place in the community and fashion your contribution effectively*Apply the lessons from the Reds. Each community member can contribute to *a* community, and collectively build up *the* community.Important note: community is a long-term thing - it requires a 20-year mindset.
  26. 26. Tuesday, May 21, 13Each of you has something he/she is passionate about -- something that he/she is really good at.In captivity, those things can go wasted.
  27. 27. Tuesday, May 21, 13Released into the wild, free to play with other passions and skills, they take flight and do amazing things.
  28. 28. Tuesday, May 21, 13Sticking with the baseball analogy, let’s see how each individual within a community fits into the team scenario.9 players: common goal and varying strengths/weaknesses, skills/abilities, etc.Everyone knows what he/she can and can’t do. Some are fast and can steal bases, others are power hitters that can drive in runs; there’s an acestarter, a closer, and a gold glove defender.
  29. 29. Tuesday, May 21, 13The same applies to startup communities - there are meetup groups, educational organizations, investors, etc. Each member needs to knowwho’s who - relative skills, experience, interests, etc.When you need something...anything...who do you turn to? Who can/will help?
  30. 30. EntrepreneursGovernmentUniversitiesInvestorsMentors Service providersLarge co’s FeedersLeadersTuesday, May 21, 13Brad Feld categorizes community members into two groups:Feeders and Leaders.Where do you fall?
  31. 31. Tuesday, May 21, 13We can drill down from that level:Are you...a builder? (if so, what languages/frameworks)a sales/marketing person?an idea person?a person with money? if so, VC or Angel?a little bit of everything (i.e., superhero)?...or a chili expert?!
  32. 32. Tuesday, May 21, 13By not only being *aware* of our individual strengths, weaknesses, interests, problems, and abilities to solve problems,*but also* our specific position within the community, we can effectively represent ourselves to our fellow community members.
  33. 33. Tuesday, May 21, 13Through a network of transparency and communication, a collective awareness builds, and each player is well-known within the team, leveragedefficiently/effectively. This provides a faster path to solution, startup, success.
  34. 34. Tuesday, May 21, 13The benefits of all this...Micro/immediate benefits include: collaborative, inclusive, vibrant, atmosphere; enthusiastic, excited, invigorated community....which lead to macro/long term benefits, like: successful startups, economic growth, attraction of talent, respect/recognition from peers, selfpride, and opportunity.
  35. 35. 21Tuesday, May 21, 13I want you to do *1* thing in the next *2* weeks...Sit down with a friend, colleague, peer, or group, and structure a conversation in this way: download. discuss. decide. DO.Download your self-evaluation. Discuss what you have to contribute to the community. Decide what your part will be. Do It.Then, hold each other accountable.
  36. 36. “If not us, who?If not now, when?”Tuesday, May 21, 13Think about this.
  37. 37. Read Startup CommunitiesTuesday, May 21, this.*I promise, I get no royalties!
  38. 38. Tuesday, May 21, 13If this happens, the “merge” of QC Merge will happen.
  39. 39. Tuesday, May 21, 13HIgh-fives will ensue, and the Big Red Machine can make its return as the Big Red Startup Machine.#longterm
  40. 40. queries?, May 21, 13