Inspired again by Gary Vaynerchuk

27 Jun

Gary knocks it down again at RailsConf.  While I’ve read (most of) Crush it! and seen several of his presentations, this recent rant to Rails developers is just a great reminder of the opportunity we have to use the web and social media to ply new ideas.

Gary talks about how our grandparents are probably more in tune with the opportunity the web presents to connect with customers in a sincere and direct way. The opinions of everyone matters – so be there for them.

We’re moving from the era of faceless big box stores (back) to one where the individual producer is empowered to battle the big guy. Main Street matters.

Increasingly, we don’t need the permission of a gatekeeper to get into business, build brand equity and to make a living.  It’s your identity and there’s no where to hide, so be intentional about your interactions with people, your customers/users and just be nice – no to mention – thankful!

Gary mentioned form sage advice heard from older seat mates on airline flights:

  • wishing they’d spent more time with their family
  • that they’d gotten to do what they love

None gave a crap about how much money they’d made. Wake up friends and find something bigger than you to chase and your desire to feather the nest.

TEDxSMU ooh yeah!

11 Oct
TEDXSMU!, originally uploaded by ParN.绯.

Wow! Wow! Wow!

Yesterday left me speechless, and last night (which ran way too late) left me recuperating most of today.

I need to collect my thoughts, but suffice to say, TEDxSMU was the greatest thing to happen to Dallas in a long long time. (The first Barcamp almost four years ago and the soon-to-open Arts District expansion are in the same league in my mind.)

So many incredible minds in one place: 475 Dallas area influentials (many of whom I can increasingly count as friends) and an amazing number of people who traveled from all around the U.S. to contribute their big ideas to the day.

A big thanks to all who had a hand in the flawless execution; including Sharon Lyle, Geoffrey Orsak, Jim Young and many others.  While I am certainly looking forward to doing it again next year, I’m more interested in engaging all of the  change agents I met.  At the after-party, Jim Young, Sr. and I discussed the idea of hosting “TED Tuesdays” at CoHabitat.  Interested?  Get in touch.

Also, I’d like to thank Ajay Waghray, Bob Payne, and Frankie De Soto who accepted invitations to blog TEDxSMURyan Plesko manned the CoHabitat table where he explained our co-working and “hacker space” operation and the impact it’s having on the Dallas startup community.

CoHabitat is expanding to Shreveport $160K in funding

11 Oct

The following post is a cross-post of a press release that went out to media on Thursday last week (I’m a bit behind).  I’ll have plenty to say about his in coming weeks and news to report as pre-party, launch date, etc.

I’m looking forward to connecting with our friends in south Louisiana (LaunchPad NOLA) on co-working and community organizing.  Several of us from CoHabitat Dallas will be traveling to New Orleans for the sure-to-be-awesome TribeCon.

SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER, LA

Co-working is an emerging trend that allows often-isolated workers, such as work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, and budding entrepreneurs to enjoy a supportive community setting while still working independently. Coworking in this type of social environment allows these independent workers to share values. It also allows them to fuel their interest in the synergy that can happen from working with talented people in the same space.

Now CoHabitat Louisiana partners Blake Burris and John Grindley and the DDA (Shrevepor’s Downtown Development Authority) are bringing that synergy to the Shreveport-Bossier (Gmap) area.

CoHabitat Louisiana (Facebook Page) is a new co-working space with a cafe-like atmosphere that is designed to create and foster a micro-enterprise atmosphere within a targeted geographical market area of North Louisiana. CoHabitat Louisiana will benefit the greater Shreveport–Bossier area in a number of ways, utilizing a currently unoccupied building, encouraging an Earth-friendly work environment, and bringing creative, entrepreneurial-thinking individuals out of home offices and into downtown.

Co-working projects have been enjoying great success around the world including similar projects in Dallas (CoHabitat Dallas) co-founded by Burris and New Orleans (Launchpad NOLA) founded by Chris Schultz.

“I think the timing is right for co-working in Louisiana; clustering of entrepreneurs and freelancers in a strong community environment accelerates their success.  Launch Pad NOLA looks forward to collaborating with CoHabitat to create a true network of entrepreneurs across the state of Louisiana.” Chris Schultz, owner of Launch Pad NOLA in New Orleans, LA.

“Co-working spaces tend to adapt to the local market and this has certainly been true in Dallas.  A  majority of our membership are building consumer web applications that tend to include Facebook and iPhone functionality.  I am very excited to partner with the DDA and John Grindley to extend the CoHabitat brand from Dallas to my hometown area.” Blake Burris, co-founder of CoHabitat Lousiana and CoHabitat Dallas.

It is also a project that the City of Shreveport’s Mayor Cedric Glover believes will bring a new high tech and entrepreneural spirit to our area and to downtown.

“I am proud of the hard work that John Grindley and the Coworking team have done to bring this project very close to fruition here in Shreveport.  This is the type of creative thinking that Shreveport needs to begin to create an innovation economy and revitalize downtown.” Cedric B. Glover, Mayor of Shreveport.

Interest in the project has increased rapidly over the last several months and those wanting to be involved in CoHabitat Louisiana are encouraged to fill out an online co-working survey to help build the environment conducive to North Louisiana’s needs.

That interest has further been increased by the support of The Downtown Development Authority of Shreveport. DDA facilitates initiatives that aid private and public development within the Downtown District of Shreveport, LA. CoHabitat Louisiana exemplifies that development and the DDA’s mission.

“The nature of work in our culture is changing rapidly, as more and more of the workforce, especially younger workers, are wanting to be independent of corporate structures, long commutes, and traditional definitions of the work day. Coworking presents an attractive alternative to independent contractors and work-at-home professionals, and has the potential to grow quickly into a major element of the workplace. At the Shreveport Downtown Development Authority, we believe strongly in this concept and its potential to help position our downtown as a viable and attractive location for coworking. That’s why we have committed to a major investment in CoHabitat Louisiana. We encourage other groups who are active in the economic development field to make CoHabitat Louisiana a priority in their efforts to expand and stabilize the job base.” Don Shea, Executive Director of the Downtown Development Authority of Shreveport.

The project still needs additional funding to begin operations downtown under Grindley and Burris’ three-year business forecast. The partners are actively seeking support from private individuals and other organizations in the community.

For more information please contact: CoHabitat Louisiana Managing Partner, John Grindley @ 318-230-0157 or email: johnmgrindley@gmail.com

Just a reminder, Shreveport-Bossier locals interested in co-working, please take the survey.

For upates, join the Facebook Page.

Catching up on stage 3 of Le Tour de Fra…

6 Jul

Catching up on stage 3 of Le Tour de France. Yeah I like Français and things French. Seeing all this scenery of Provence is inpirational.

A brief history of CoHabitat and Dallas coworking

16 Jan

My interest in “coworking” was piqued by a presentation Chris Messina and Raven Zachary gave in Dallas at the first local Barcamp (January 2006.)  It sounded sorta’ dreamy:  a place, a community, a petri dish for people and ideas to flourish in a way  they don’t when you’re working from home, a café, or a low-rise office with drop ceilings.  I was familiar with incubators like StarTech in Richardson and various executive suites, but this was different.

Surely, many of us in attendance at that presentation thought: Dallas must have this coworking!  In subsequent weeks, quite a few people added their names to the coworking wiki expressing their interest.  Dallas is a big city, and naturally people live all over the place; which became challenge number one: agreeing on a central location. Challenge number two, and more important to me, was finding the right kind of area.  Coworking spaces that I’ve seen do well are typically located in an urban area with easy (read: walkable) access to cafés, pubs, and local eateries.  The buildings housing successful coworking spaces also tend to have some character, i.e., they’re not sterile office buildings like the corporate prisons where many of us have worked at one time on another.  (Hats off to the younger ones among us who are skipping the ‘working for the man’ phase and bravely jumping straight into entrepreneurial pursuits!)

To jump ahead (about 2 yrs 9 mths!), in mid-October a buddy, Dave Copps, called to say that he was considering a new office space for his company, PureDiscovery, and asked if I knew anyone else needing space…hrmm. My first question was “WHERE?”  because not just any place was going to work for what I had in mind :)   Luckily Dave’s response was “well, a friend is considering buying a 100-year-old house in Uptown”  - BINGO!  :D

The Home of CoHabitat Coworking

The Home of CoHabitat Coworking

My mind was off to the races; considering the possibilities as I explained the tenets of coworking and rattled off some examples like Conjunctured (Austin), IndyHall (Philly), CitizenSpace (SF) and CarolineCollective (Houston.)  Dave saw the potential and shared some information with the real estate guys.  After the first property under consideration (right off the Katy Trail)  we had toured with few a dozen friends fell through,  we quickly settled on another, equally-old and quirky house, on the opposite end of Routh St. in the State-Thomas area.

Knowing we needed our entrepreneurial friends and the larger local community to rally behind the idea, we quickly settled on a name, “CoHabitat,” to represent the vision going forward.  I setup the requisite twitter account and Facebook page and starting spreading the word with folks who I expected would support the idea.

In my next post about CoHabitat, I’ll write about what’s happened in the last 5 weeks or so since we starting moving in on top of the previous owners and tenants :)

A special thanks goes out to those who were first to support CoHabitat and have given their time and support to move things forward (not to mention moving furniture): Christopher St. John, Stormy Shippy, Andy Chen, Andres FabrisNikhil Nilakantan, Jacob Morse (logo), Adam Strickland, Steven Ray (website), Marvin Molina and Joseph Manes (Ikea assembly).

Follow us on twitter for regular updates and check out our Facebook Page too. I’ll update this post when the website is up.

DevHouse evolved: Joyent + Mentez in the developing world

13 Feb

I used to think all cool web startups happened in and around the Bay Area, the nexus of innovation, brains, and capital – right? There has been a great change underway with global spread of Barcamp since August ’05 and Facebook Developer Garages (calendar) that have been going on since May ’07 (time of Facebook platform launch), there has been a surge in creativity happening in places far beyond the Valley. In fact 8 out 10 most recent Facebook developer garages are happening outside the States.

Juan Franco of Mentez of Miami has smartly tapped several hots trends. Mentez has created an environment for bringing together developers together around the viral platforms, Facebook and OpenSocial. They are reaching out to developers in developing countries like Turkey, Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, and South Africa.

While we have at times raised sponsorships to offer prizes at iPhoneDevCamp and DevHouse events I’ve been part of organizing, they are paying cold cash and providing consulting services and infrastructure through a deal announced yesterday with Joyent. I don’t think they’ve quite reached the OLPC-destination villages in Africa, Asia and Latin America but maybe that’s the next stop.

Their approach builds on things that have worked elsewhere like SuperHappyDevHouse in Silicon Valley and its dirivitives, CocoaDevHouse, MashPits, and in another vein, Startup Weekend.

Developers interested in the next round of Mentez competitions have until the 24th of February to signup. Check it out if you’re a developer and if you’re a blogger in those countries, help spread the word.

I’d be happy to field your questions about scaling your business or social applications on Joyent Accelerators. If you’re a Facebook developer, check out our free Accelerator offering in partnership with DELL and Facebook.

[Disclosure: I'm a platform evangelist at Joyent. ]

16Bit Party @ SXSW Interactive 2008

1 Feb

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SxSW 16Bit Party Ad, originally uploaded by joyent (textdrive).

Planning to be in Austin for SXSW Interactive? Don’t miss THE party. Last year’s 8-bit went on and on and on and with the time change, most of us didn’t make an early sessions the next day.

As a newcomer to Joyent as Platform Evangelist for Cloud Computing and Facebook, I’m excited to be a host for this party.

The venue is pure Austin! Outside, fire pit, and good music – just east of the freeway (don’t try walking though). I hope to see lots of you there.

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