Thursday, September 23, 2010

Great Bootstrapper's Breakfast today

Today's Bootstrapper's Breakfast was fascinating and well worth the time.  In attendance were the entire team from the winners of the start-up weekend, who have been working on no sleep and lots of caffeine.  Kevin Spreng kept the discussion on track and we all got to talk about what we are working on and, in most cases, what we do when we aren't bootstrapping a start-up.

One of the interesting themes was how much different it is to be an entrepreneur once you are married, have kids, a mortgage and the real responsibilities that naturally come along as one get's older.  Coming out of that discussion, I am seriously thinking about getting a group together that consists of a bunch of guys that have been involved in start-ups in the past, who might be able to lend some historical perspective, give some free advice and help younger entrepreneurs build their respective network's.

Playing off that discussion, I think there was some consensus that we can all serve the start-up community by working together and sharing our connections.

Jeff Pesek had some really interesting comments about the things that he has learned about being an entrepreneur in the Midwest which started a discussion about the differences between the Silicon Valley venture capital/startup environment and the Twin Cities'.  One of the things that I absolutely agreed with him on was when he said it is really important to consider the sources of the advice that you get as it relates to doing a start-up or finding funding.  He said, "there are a lot of poser's out there"...  Truer words were never spoken.  Jeff also talked about the current state of venture funding here in town and what he feels are ways that we can improve the climate.

The best part of the breakfast, for me, was at the end when we went around the table and shared what we are looking for, in terms of help for the various projects we are all working on, and also what we might be able to offer the other members of the group.

Afterward, Kevin held a little impromptu session on the merits and pitfalls of the various types of legal entities that an unfunded start-up might consider, when trying to attract seed, angel or venture funding.

I left thinking that I am amazed at how much more mature the Twin Cities start-up community has become since I first went out looking for venture funding back in 2000.  I mentioned that, back then, the only decent networking group in town was Netsuds, and all 6,000 members were trying to get a meeting with Michael Gorman.  Now, getting in the room with someone who can fund your idea is a little easier, and we are all getting better at realizing that just Because another company gets funded, that doesn't preclude ours from being successful too.

In the end, I think the most important nugget that I took from the event was that there are lots of people out there who are talented and well connected and if we all work together, share ideas, share contacts and use our past experience and lessons learned from our failures as well as our successes, we can help each-other avoid mistakes and turn the Twin Cities in to a more inviting environment for innovation.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad it you found value in the conversation Darren, it was a pleasure to meet you in person.



Darren Cox

Darren Cox
Founder and Chief Evangelist - CaSTT - Commerce and Search for Technology Transfer