SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
Rustbelt Rising #14: Part II
Sep 15th, 2015 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

Rust Belt Rising … An Epic Quest To Build A Vibrant Tech Startup Scene In A Traditional, Conservative, Hard-core Rust Belt Town.

— by Blake Glenn

 

Every adventure must come to an inevitable conclusion!

 

Apathy

1. Absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.

2. Lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.

 

In the last three years I’ve learned that enthusiasm is an absolutely HUGE variable that determines whether or not it’s possible to ignite a grassroots tech startup scene. And frankly, the Dayton region has not had sufficient enthusiasm for the prospect of building a real startup scene. There are a handful of individuals that are all in for this. I can name them. They’re ready, willing, and able to put in the time and effort to make this happen. But that list is horrifically short. And it’s about to get even shorter.

In the almost 3 years I’ve been “efforting” to ignite a tech startup scene, only two people have stepped in as leaders to help build the group and, subsequently, the regional tech startup scene. Despite my repeated calls for additional community builders, no one else made themselves available. In truth, there were a couple of others that seemed interested. But that just didn’t translate into bodies on board. And unfortunately, both of the people that did step in are no longer able to be on board. I thank them both – Alejandro and Max – for their service. So, from a leadership perspective, it’s just me now.

It’s not just an apathy for community-building. It’s been apathy for just attending events that we offered – social hours, co-working sessions … anything! There’s been so little energy from the people in the Dayton region to just get out of their houses once or twice a month to gather and socialize around tech startups, that I’ve wondered if there’s a pulse at all!

Oh no! She’s flatlining. Defibrillator. Defibrillator!

CLEAR!

Bzzzzzzzz!

Still no pulse!

AGAIN!

CLEAR!

Bzzzzzzzz!

We’re losing her.

WE’RE LOSING HER!

 

I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry. We did the best we could. It just wasn’t … It just wasn’t enough. My condolences.

 

To quote Larry The Liquidator in the movie “Other People’s Money” (played with delightful effect by Danny Devito):

It’s dead.

Don’t blame me.

It was dead when I got here!

 

Of course Larry was talking about a dying company he had targeted for acquiring and then selling in pieces, or liquidation, in order to make a lot of money. Here of course, we’re talking about the regional tech startup scene. I have no plans to break Dayton into pieces and sell them off.

Then again … maybe I could interest Columbus, Indianapolis, Detroit, and Cincinnati in a section or two.

 

Another important event that exemplified the apathy around tech startups was Startup Weekend. There were two attempts to do this in 2014. The first attracted less than 30 people. The second had to be canceled due to insufficient registrations. Frankly, I think the second attempt was too soon considering the disappointing turnout of the first one. But I’m sure the organizers learned from their experience.

 

 

Pivot

To turn on or as on a pivot.

I’m just a bit tired of this word. It’s one of the most overused in the world of tech startups – right up there with ecosystem, disrupt, scale, and way too many others. But damnit I couldn’t think of a better one to use.

Anyway, yes it’s pivot time.

First, I have a couple of project ideas that haven’t received my full attention. I’ve neglected theses ideas because some of my attention went to Ignitetech. I’m not just a community builder. I have looney ideas constantly bouncing around in my crazy brain. And they’re just aching to launch. So I’m pursuing them with a relentless and ruthless focus.

Second, what does this mean for IgniteTech? Will it continue on? Will it evolve into something else? Well I don’t know yet. I’d be ecstatic if a few more people showed some enthusiasm (i.e., opposite of apathy) for helping to build a grassroots tech startup movement by taking leadership positions in IgniteTech. Based on past experience, that’s not likely to happen.

Alternately, the group may “pivot” in a different direction. I have an idea or two that dovetails with the projects I’m developing. So it may still exist but become something completely different than the original mission. On the other hand, maybe it just needs a merciful death. That’s a strong possibility too.

Regardless of which direction I take here, the initial IgniteTech adventure is over. It started with a tech startup summit I co-produced in November of 2012. And it continued with the launch of IgniteTech in January of 2013. Now I must turn my full attention to embarking on other adventures. Of course now and then I’ll still post observations about the Dayton tech startup scene. I’ll still participate, on occasion, in tech startup activities. I’ll continue to observe how things transpire. Maybe someone else will be able to inject a dose of electricity and jolt some life into the moribund Dayton scene.

Yea. Like Frankenstein bringing his monster to life.

Just remember …

Don’t blame me.

I didn’t kill it.

It was dead when I got here.

 

But maybe, just maybe a team of mad scientists can conjure up some lightning one stormy night and bring Daytonstein to life!

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

If you dare, he can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

——————

 

 

Rustbelt Rising #14: Part I
Sep 11th, 2015 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

Rust Belt Rising … An Epic Quest To Build A Vibrant Tech Startup Scene In A Traditional, Conservative, Hard-core Rust Belt Town.

— by Blake Glenn

 

The End Times Cometh!

 

Membership

The total number of members belonging to an organization, society, etc.

If you’ve been reading these updates you know that IgniteTech is a group I launched in January 2013 as a means to gather people interested in building a dynamic grassroots tech startup scene in the Dayton, OH region. In December of 2014 the IgniteTech membership stood at about 190 people. Since then the membership has increased to over 270 people. That’s pretty good growth, especially for the Dayton, OH region. 80 more members in 8 months. So that’s some real good news right?

And yet, the last event IgniteTech attempted to co-produce with two other tech groups – a beer and bowling party – could only muster 4 registrations … including me! So we had to cancel it. Since last year I’ve noticed a decline in registrations for IgniteTech social events as well as our  monthly pitching/co-working meetups.

So what does this mean?

Well it seems that the membership doesn’t like what we’re offering. And to attempt to counteract this declining trend in participation, we issued a survey early this year to get a sense of what people want. While there were a few responses, I would call it tepid at best. And over the last 2 years I’ve also seen lukewarm interest in other tech startup activities not sponsored by IgniteTech.

What it means is … the IgniteTech membership not only doesn’t like what we’ve tried to offer, but doesn’t care much to tell us what they actually do want.

So why does the membership keep growing?

Well, uh, geez … Hell if I know!

Maybe people just like joining stuff, whether they plan to participate or not!

 

Traction

The adhesive friction of a body on some surface, as a wheel on a rail or a tire on a road

Initially, IgniteTech was able to get a little traction in interest with our early events. Our typical attendance was in the range of 20 – 25 people. As I look back I think a big part of this was that there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING going on in the tech startup scene. I mean NOTHING! Hell there actually wasn’t a tech startup scene at all.

While there always have been and will be individuals interested in launching the next billion dollar IPO, there wasn’t an actual grassroots community that existed around tech startups. A community that supported, critiqued, and collaborated to help launch more ventures. I think the initial interest in IgniteTech events was also driven by an intrigue at the prospect of something new.

But as time progressed, our ability to maintain that initial traction has become a whole lot more challenging. The tread wear on these tires is pretty damned thin. New tires are probably needed. But frankly is it really worth the effort to try to regain the traction?

Keeping with the auto metaphor, maybe it’s best if someone with a brand new car came in to try and burn a little rubber in the tech startup scene. Oops. That would actually wear off the tread wouldn’t it. Bad metaphor.

A group called Startup Grind has recently launched in Dayton. Maybe it will gain some traction. And there’s rumblings of a new attempt at another Startup Weekend. Perhaps with their past experience as a guide, they’ll be able to pull it off. I really wish both of these efforts the best. The region needs new blood, new ideas, new energy.

 

Community

A social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists

With this in mind, the Dayton region does have an existing tech community that is made up of programmers, designers, engineers, project managers, small business owners … etc. Then there’s the sub-community within the broader tech community that consists of founders of tech-related ventures that are launching ideas, seeking angel and venture funding, and trying to achieve a high growth trajectory.

But these communities are mostly a collection of individuals and teams working their own ventures, with minimal ongoing interaction and collaboration among others in the “community”. But if there’s minimal ongoing interaction, and there’s little mutual support, is it really a community at all?

Well I say no. It’s not. Definitely not.

At least not the type of community that can lead to building a truly dynamic tech startup scene. It’s simply a collection of individuals. No more.  When I look around the country at some of the cities/regions where tech startups are really emerging (Las Vegas; Columbus; Washington, DC; Chicago; even Detroit) there appear to be active grassroots communities that hold well-attended events. As an outsider, there appears to be great enthusiasm for activities that allow people to bump and connect (I’m tired of saying “colliding”). Even lil’ ole’ Reno, NV (similar to Dayton in size and its loss of traditional industry jobs – casinos in this case) is trying to become a tech startup player. And it just might succeed too.

 

In my next post, I’ll conclude my thoughts on the status of IgniteTech and the Dayton tech startup scene in Rustbelt Rising #14: Part II.

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

If you dare, he can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

—————————————————————

P.S. – If you’re really interested in growing the tech startup scene in SW Ohio, you’ll want to join the IgniteTech Meetup Group.  Join the group. Come out to our events. Bring your energy and ideas. Build your connections.

Join us on this adventure. And help us to create a great story!

 

SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa
© Copyright 2014 The Looney Executive