GalleyPro Wins

12 May 2008

We just announced the winner… by an overwhelming margin, the winner of the 2nd Birmingham Startup pitch contest is GalleyPro! The entire audience voted, but the judges seemed to favor this pitch as well.

Birmingham Startup #2's Judging Panel

The judges were (left to right as shown above):

  • David Gray, DAXKO – representing tech company CEOs
  • Grey Wood, Jemison Investments – representing Venture Capital
  • Susan Matlock, Innovation Depot – representing incubation and entrepreneurism

Considering Kluster

29 February 2008

It couldn’t last… there are now several viable rapid-development concepts in play.  The concept of building a company in a compressed timeframe wasn’t new when Andrew Hyde introduced it as Startup Weekend and it wasn’t the only game in town (as we proved in November 2007).  Along comes an announcement about a “brand new product in 72 hours” by a group/organization known as kluster.  This is an interesting “crowd sourcing” concept and business model… might be worth considering some of the metrics for accounting for participation in the development process as a method for tracking sweat equity.

Miss the broadcast of the APT documentary about Birmingham Startup?!?  Are you one of our out-of town blog readers?  No worries… Tim Lennox of Alabama Public Television has just announced that they have encoded the COMPLETE BROADCAST and placed it online for your viewing pleasure.

For those of you following Mr. Hyde of Startup Weekend fame, you’ll (hopefully) observe the marked difference in our approach from the way things happen on “official” weekends.  Granted, this documentary spends 45+ minutes covering our business development weekend and about 5-8 minutes on the implementation weekend where we *built* the winning team’s online presence.  Nonetheless, you can get a good flavor from watching this video of our focus on ensuring BUSINESS VALIDITY before coding.


Post Pitch Interview with APTVIt’s time to set your Tivo/Moxi/DVR to record “Alabama Stories” On Alabama Public Television Broadcast Channel in High Definition – Friday, January 18th @ 7pm CST…

Start-Up Weekend with Tim Lennox
In early November, eight teams of entrepreneurs meet to pitch their technology business proposals to a Birmingham business incubator, vying to be chosen as the group to land the funding and then launch its company the next weekend. All of the proposals are Internet-based, and all want to be the next big thing. Reporter Tim Lennox follows the winning start-up from proposal to launch.

FindASpeaker - Certificate of CompletionNot quite the way we’d have described it.  The weekends were hosted AT the business incubator, but their staff wasn’t around to vett any of the concepts.  We also did not provide funding, unless you consider pro bono work a form of funding.  If we could rewrite the program description, here’s the way it would read:

Start-Up Weekend with Tim Lennox
In early November (2007), eight teams of entrepreneurs met to pitch their business proposals to a team of technology business professionals, vying to be chosen as the group to have their business built for free and launch a company the next weekend.  All of the proposals were web-based, and all wanted to be the next next thing.  Reporter Tim Lennox follows the winning start-up from proposal to launch.

We’ll have to wait until Friday 7-8pm CST to see the broadcast ourselves and see how it all plays back in High Definition.
APT interview of CrossConneXion

It’s election season out there… the candidates are criss-crossing the nation looking for your votes.  The mastermind behind it all just announced that the official list has been published and more candidates may be considered in the future.  Except here and north of the border.  Mysteriously (or not), Birmingham and Toronto aren’t on his list.  We don’t care, actually.  We’re running our event again here in 2008 with or without any official affiliation

The “Birmingham Startup” management team should be meeting later this month to select a date in the springtime… we’ll post details about our next startup weekend just as soon as they’re set!  Save your votes for determining the next company that we’ll build!

Startup vs. Weekend

12 November 2007

And so the debate continues… two recent articles following this past weekend talk about Andrew Hyde’s StartupWeekend’s focus on community building:

“… these events are clearly wonderful for creating community. Note that I am not saying “for creating useful startups” – it’s highly unlikely any of these will get funded, let alone reach a liquidity event. But participants are clearly charged up after the sessions, and the overall feedback is positive.” Michael Arrington of TechCrunch


“… it should come as no surprise (and Mike is very right) that it’s not primarily about building sustainable companies. Instead, think of it as building sustainable communities.” David Cohen of TechStars

and in Andrew’s own words

“The weekend is about building community, that is the first and biggest goal (and always will be). The connections made during the weekends are where you will really see the value of Startup Weekend. Partnerships and relationships forged out of these weekends will lead to greater business development in the future.”

SAY WHAT?  If it’s all about “community” then why take 5% equity?  In fact, Birmingham *already* has a very strong technology community.  For instance, TechBirmingham‘s TechMixers regularly draw 600+ attendees.  Our community has a wonderful startup ecosystem that supports efforts like the Birmingham Startup weekends.  My hats off to Andrew and his startup gypsies who are packing the house with ‘out of towners’ at each of his Startup Weekends.  But, what happens to the community when they leave town?  IF it’s about community, why not let local organizers build on and adapt the concept (as we’ve done) a little to fit into their local system?  When the 2nd Startup Weekend’s organizers tried (in Toronto) they were summarily slapped down for trying.  Now it’s as if they never had one, if not for the counter-blog’s recollection of the effort.

Instead, in Birmingham we set out to create a bona fide company.  I’ve blogged a couple of times about the rationale behind the organizers and participants not taking equity from the founders.  Even though the sleep depravation hasn’t subsided and I’m still consuming Advil in far greater doses than the bottle recommends, I believe that everyone who played with us in the past 2 weekends feels that it was worth their time to volunteer for such a momentous undertaking!

So, I ask the following rhetorical question… Is this all about creating a true STARTUP or is it all about having a great, invigorating, and challenging WEEKEND?  In Birmingham, we had both!!


8 November 2007

We kick off our second phase of the Birmingham version of a startup weekend tomorrow at 6pm.

Some have asked if we’ve got enough participants? Probably, but the right answer is “never enough”.  At Tuesday night’s TechMixer (~600 attendees), some told me they couldn’t allocate the whole weekend to the project.  That’s OK!  We had 40+ different people participate last weekend, just not all at the same time.  Some came in for just 4 hours and others were there every waking hour.  This coming weekend will be no different… if you can spare even a few hours, then show up and we’ll find a way for you to make an impact in our techno “barn raising”.  See the agenda page on our wiki for blow by blow details about how we think the weekend will shake out.

You can register to specific roles (pick as many as you like) HERE.  Otherwise, show up at 6pm tomorrow and hear the founder’s presentation and participate in the discussion of requirements, design, and system architecture that will immediately follow.

Project design

It’s official.  After the 3 finalists pitched their 10-minute presentations to an audience of 40 people, and judges gave them some extremely relative and constructive criticism… a vote was taken.  By majority vote, CrossConneXion was chosen. is an online Christian social hangout where teens can connect with friends and with God. will allow users to seek job and mission opportunities, watch celebrity interviews, upload pictures and videos as well as find information on a wide range of teen-related issues such as peer pressure, dating, college prep tips and leadership. will offer exclusive features including online mentorship and a monthly video segment featuring the accomplishments of an overachieving youth. aims to entertain, inspire and evangelize youth with Christian flavor.

CrossConneXion is the brainchild of Jim Sutton, youth pastor at First Church Worship Center.

Winners! -- CrossConnexion

Start{me}Up… in Birmingham

21 September 2007

It seems like just yesterday when a friend of mine, Bill McKinnon, sent me the following seamingly innocent email:

I don't know if/how it would work out here, but it's 
a TechBirmingham-esque idea (if you're inclined to 
take it on) ... see

For the past nearly five years, I’ve been running TechBirmingham, the Birmingham-area technology leadership alliance.  So, this suggestion was very consistent with the organization’s purpose of doing its part to grow the technology ecosystem here in Birmingham, Alabama.  Sure, Birmingham isn’t the first place some people think of when they think of tech centers… but I’m here because it is!  And, more so than even Atlanta.  This community is small enough to get to know most everyone and still believe that there’s thousands out there that I haven’t met yet.

So, I read the email above and pondered it, for about 5 minutes, before my heart started racing with the excitement of an idea too good to pass up.  I couldn’t sleep that night and the next day proferred the concept at a lunch meeting onto two unsuspecting friends (Drew Deaton and Scott Ferguson).  The quick lunch turned into a 2 hour brainstorming session.  I put myself in front of a computer that afternoon (before heading out of town with my wife for a weekend getaway) and created the wiki that is now The site originally just housed the items Drew scrawled on the paper tablecloth (the idea was tooooo big for a napkin) and has since grown to rank number 547 out of WetPaint’s 542,783 sites!!!

Now 7+ weeks later, <sigh!> look what’s happened.  We’ve got a full fledged wiki containing our plans for the “Birmingham Model” of the Startup Weekend concept.  We’ve not aligned with the “StartupWeekend” folks… not exactly sure that we will.

While the organizing team has been hard at work filling out the wiki and making plans.  I’m going to share my thoughts as we chug along.  Some may have to do with OUR plans and some may have to do with other city’s efforts.