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walk-up registration table
TechMixer2 - techies mixing it up
TechMixer 3.0 table layout
TechMixer 1.0 >> attendees (5 of 5)
 

I’ve always got a kick about how StartupWeekend is supposed tobuild community” when our TechMixers have long been doing that here in Birmingham. We use our startup weekend effort to build a company, as I’ve noted before. If it’s community you want, however, then there’s no better than a TechMixer!

The good folks at TechBirmingham recently announced that the next TechMixer will be held Tuesday, February 12th. This one follows the more traditional “expo” format of yesteryear, unlike the “unplugged” (and lower key) event held last November at the Innovation Depot.  This TechMixer returns to the McWane Science Center‘s 3rd floor, sans the Bob the Builder exhibits that cluttered traffic flow last May.

Be one of the 500+ attendees expected at this must-attend event!  The Birmingham Startup organizers will be there, so look for us.

Learn more at the TechMixer.org site… If you know you want to attend (and you probably do!), then CLICK HERE to go directly to the registration page.

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

and

“… 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!!

Birmingham’s startup weekend event wouldn’t be on track without our great team of organizers.  But, what makes this effort truly amazing are the sponsors that have stepped up with their own expertise and/or special offering.  Here’s who’s on board as of this morning…

  • ITAC Solutions is the “presenting sponsor”… they’re putting up the $$$ to cover hard costs *AND* are sending staff to participate on the teams where their expertise will be most useful.
  • Burr & Forman‘s Technology Practice group is handling all of the legal work, pro bono.  This means that the winning team will get their corporate documents taken care of (filing fees with the state and county are the team’s responsibility) in the week interlude between the weekends.  They are presenting 3 topics on Saturday afternoon… how else can you get 2.5 hours of a lawyer’s time without having to pay for it?  <VBG>  And, they have taken care of the legal process to ensure that the resulting company ends up properly owning the intellectual property that we all help them create.  The firm is also hosting the selection event/reception on the first Sunday evening.
  • Innovation Depot is the primary venue for our event.  Thank you to Susan Matlock for letting us move in rent-free for the two weekends and thanks to Devon Laney for taking on the role of venue manager.
  • ComFrame Software and Westglenn Software are stepping up with modest amounts of cash and equally important manpower.
  • Buffalo Rock just yesterday confirmed that they will be providing participants in both weekends with an assortment of “high octane” soft drinks, such as Pepsi MAX and Mountain Dew Code Red (appropriate, eh?)… maybe even Mountain Dew Game Fuel.
  • Other partners include TechBirmingham, Microsoft, and BUG.NET