Tonight’s Refresh Denver Meeting was about web businesses. Namely, startups and small businesses in general. It was panel discussion led by SuzAnn Brown and Heather Morgan from Launchpad Interactive and Alex King from Crowd Favorite. I didn’t manage to take very good notes this time around so a lot of this is from memory, my own thoughts, and discussions after the meeting had adjourned. Here are my notes and thoughts:
- Establish a Business Plan - It is wise to have a sound business plan.
- Create Your Company Entity - A business license is not a bad idea but, more importantly, establish your business as an Limited Liability Company (LLC). Otherwise, kiss your personal assets away when things go bad.
- Seek Legal Council - You might be savvy or think you’re savvy, but lets face it, your not. Legal contracts, licensing, etc. is tricky and it would be wise to have someone you know and trust on your side to handle this. Take a page from Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Workweek book and outsource this instead.
- Fixed vs. Time and Material Payments - A fixed payment is where you perform all work for a set price regardless of the time or additional resources needed to make it happen. Tricky and sometimes costly as you might underestimate or have unforeseen issues. Being payed for time and materials allows one to scale and get payed for the work done. In either case, it would be wise to establish a clear and well document list of work items to be performed. Also, it is not a bad idea to underbid and overproduce.
- Source Code Reuse - As you grow your business you might want to think about building a foundation of core software that you can redistribute amongst your various clients. This not only makes things easier for you but saves the client money too. However, ownership of the intellectual property can get murky and is another reason for having an lawyer on hand to ensure both parties get what they want.
- Education - Check out the HTML Writers Guild and Lynda to get more web training under you belt.
- Collaboration and Project Management Services - A couple online services recommended by the panel for project management were: BaseCamp and TasksPro.
- Seek a Mentor - There are free service out there via other business groups and or educational institutions that will help provide objective feedback of how you are doing. Find one, it’ll keep you honest.
- Remember the Dream - Keep a threshold on what it is you are doing and remember to take a step back and remember what you initial goal and mission was. As with having a mentor around, this will keep your from meandering off track.
Instead, Matthew and Chip, kicked off a round table discussion to make good use of the time. It was a chance to meet everyone in attendance as well as forum for discussing new ideas and ways of improving the Refresh Denver experience. Some of the topics discussed were:
- Venue - The Hive, while handy, is too small for the group. We need a space sponsored by a local business that is willing to accommodate 30+ people, a projector, and WiFi.
- Location - Should the meetings be held in central Denver or to the North, South, etc? It was a mixed vote. The key is to be near an area where food and beverage are within reach for hanging out and socializing after each event. Very important, you know.
- One Point of Origin - Do we use the WordPress site, the Google Group, or a mix of both (not to mention the Upcoming and Twitter sites).
- Monthly Topics - Matthew/Chip suggested that there be a revolving topic discussion: technology, design, business. Each month would get one of the three in a repeating cycle. It should make for a well rounded experience, not to mention some mingling between business folk/entrepreneurs, designers, and developers.
One thing that I found interesting from listening and talking to others (granted there is wide range of talents and ages in attendance) is what appears to be a lack of syndicated feed usage. People either bookmark a web site or use e-mail but not a feed reader as much. Maybe my perception is skewed but there is a clear distinction between these forms of communication and a huge benefit if used wisely.
I was a little late getting to the party as traffic was heavy and the place itself was a bit of a treasure hunt. Greg Owen from Effective UI was the speaker. He was quite knowledgable about the Adobe AIR platform but I can’t say that I learned a lot from the presentation. I think I was hoping to see real-time coding splendor from within the Flex Builder IDE. Oh, well. Chip’s demo of Map My Pix is worth checking out. Chip demonstrated with Map My Pix that a user can drag and drop photos onto a map pulling timestamp and location information from the EXIF data found in images (although I’m not positive how the location information is captured as I write this).
After the meeting I got a chance to talk to Mike Hostetler from Crowd Favorite and ate dinner with Scott Balay from Triple Jack Poker and Heather Morgan from LaunchPad Interactive at Protos Pizza (which is on the first floor of the same building as The Hive).
It is really nice to see the Refresh Denver group growing. The Hive was packed and everyone is enthused and curious about technology. For me, this is a welcome change. Something I’ve been trying to find for some time now.
For additional information, check out Chip’s wrap-up notes.
Just got back from attending a Refresh Denver meeting held at the Illegal Grounds Coffee House. Met some interesting people (mostly web developers) who live in the Denver area. I was the only radical that came from Colorado Springs. Here are a few quick notes that I captured from the meeting:
- Technology: Microformats
- Speaker: Scott Reynen
- Related Technologies: RDF, OWL, GRDDL.
- The W3C is not necessarily in sync with Microformats.
- Operator - A Firefox plug-in that supports microformats.
- HTML 4.0 supports microformats.
- The WordPress Sandbox Theme uses microformats.
- NetNewsWire - A feed reader for the Mac that supports microformats.
It was a learning experience for me and I really enjoyed meeting everyone that attended. Would have liked to have spent more time with everyone and that might be possible in the future. It sounds like this type of event just got off the ground during May of this year (for Denver that is). I am looking forward to more events like this and would even be up for hosting something like this in the Colorado Springs area. If anyone is interested just leave a comment, otherwise try to attend the next Refresh Denver meeting.