Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit down 1:1 with Mayor Battle to discuss Huntsville's emerging commercial tech startup community. There are now more commercial tech startups in operation in Huntsville than there ever have been before, and it's incredibly exciting!
Last night was Open Huntsville's Coworking Night #40 - the 40th time that a group of folks and I have met at AL.com for our weekly coworking event.
We had a few events last night. Dan Nagle, a local software developer, gave a demo of his TCP/UDP packet-intercepting app, Packet Sender. One of the group attendees contextualized Dan's app as a tool that could, for example, intercept the controls for a Nest thermostat and make them usable via another device.
After this, Tom O'Connell presented the high-level topics from chapters 7-9 of The Lean Startup, which he and a group of other folks are reading. We had a good discussion about concepts such as performing customer development prior to building product, failing as quickly as possible, and creating test cases for validating ideas.
Following this, Matt McLellan facilitated his Pitching 101 group, which focused on fun, light-hearted pitches of existing known brands, such as Nike, Crayola, and Tide. A group of us got together in The Vault conference room, drew brand names from a hat, and practiced delivering their elevator pitches. After each pitch, we gave each other feedback on our presentations.
This was a lot of fun, and this also helped some of the less confident public speakers in the group to come out of their shells a bit. Matt did a really good job of keeping the event going and facilitating a welcoming, accepting environment.
In addition to these three events, a number of other attendees met in small groups or individually to talk business, work on projects, and explore ideas.
Our presenters did a great job tonight. We're working on further 'platformizing' the event such that more event hosts and groups can use the space and draw in crowds for learning, sharing, and collaborating.
Finally, a big thanks to AL.com for letting us use their space. We really appreciate it.
This morning at 3210 I gave a deep-dive presentation on the founding story of the company, Robinhood, which offers zero-fee stock trading via a very sexy mobile app. You can see the slide deck for the presentation here.
Since I haven't written about 3210 before, we traditionally do one of two things:
- I prepare and then present a deck on the founding story of a successful tech startup: its founders, product, model, investments, competitors, and opportunity.
- We have a successful tech entrepreneur speak to our community about their success with their company.
Personally, I enjoy the former of the two approaches because it gives the group an opportunity to more objectively discuss the startup at hand. My goal in facilitating discussion about tech startups is for people to come away from the event thinking about ideas for their own possible tech startups.
However, we've also hosted a handful of really great speakers.
Over the past couple of months, interaction and community development within the group has really started to flourish, with many more people meeting each other, collaborating on projects, etc. Folks have started coming to Coworking Night as an extension of 3210. It's really wonderful to see.
Here are the other slide decks I've made for other 3210 deep-dives. Please feel free to take them and use them for any purpose.
This past weekend, my team and I filmed six founder interviews with entrepreneurs from Huntsville: Colin Wayne (celebrity fitness model, founder of Colin Wayne Enterprise); Ashley Ramirez (founder of Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro); Matt McLellan (founder of Absolute Nutrition); Glenn Clayton (founder of Appleton Learning); Kim Lewis (founder of Project XYZ); and Morgan Farrington (founder of Leave It To Cleaners). This shoot is part of a video series I produce called Huntsville Founders.
Our production team did a great job, and so did each of our founders. It's tricky to sit there with the lights on your face and a roomful of people hearing your founding story.
Here are some of our photos from the shoot. Overall it was a fun day, and we now have lots of content in our backlog to work with. A big thanks to each of our founders and our crew!
Here are some of the highlights from my year:
- Moved to Huntsville for a job with Curse.
- Immediately fell in love with Huntsville. So much civic opportunity.
- Started going to HOTCoffee and Rocket Hatch events. Became passionate for helping to grow Huntsville’s startup community.
- Cofounded Code for Huntsville. Joined organizers for Hack Huntsville. Started organizing weekly Hack Nights.
- Co-built Frontier, an app for finding things to do. Fizzled. Met a lot of great people through this.
- Recruited for a job by Google. Flattering.
- Went to Cancun for a week. Got to speak some Spanish.
- Started 3210. Began meeting weekly for startup breakfasts.
- Participated in Fleet Feet’s NOBO II running group. Ran the Cotton Row 5k and 10k.
- Joined the board for HYP. Became passionate for helping to grow Huntsville’s YP community.
- Started going to Rotaract. Met a lot of great people.
- Played kickball with Go Kickball. Met a lot of great people.
- Started YPX, a local YP group. Hosted one event, fizzled. Still passively working on this.
- Played Ultimate with HUSL. Met a lot of great people.
- Cofounded Open Huntsville, “LinkedIn for Huntsville.” Hosted a big party at the Apple Store.
- Cofounded Huntsville Founders, a video interview series. We’ve interviewed a lot of great people.
- Visited my family in Boston and friends at North Branch Farm.
- Joined Development Council. Met a lot of great people.
- Transitioned Hack Night to Coworking Night. We’ve hosted a lot of great speakers.
- Founded my agency, Archer Sparrow. Actively building websites for clients in Huntsville.
- Started working on a new company, launching next year.
- Spoke at Men’s Fire Night, shared my life story with a large audience. Empowering.
- Have met thousands of people in Huntsville.
- Have introduced hundreds of people in Huntsville. My passion is connecting people.