Archive for the ‘Tampa’ Category

90 Days In a Startup Accelerator – Part 1

As one of the first six companies to complete Gazelle Lab‘s accelerator program I can say that it was well worth the effort. If you’re a startup in Tampa Bay then I highly recommend submitting your application NOW. Check the FAQ on their site for an up-to-date list of the benefits you receive and be prepared to part with 6% of the company in exchange for those benefits. In my opinion, it was more than worth it. Also be prepared to work full time on your venture, if you’re holding down a day job and trying to do this… Let’s just say that you need to make a choice between one or the other. Be prepared to work late. Be prepared to speak in front of an audience of up to 1,000 (or more!) or as few as 10. Be prepared to bring a team that can execute – you cannot do this alone as it’s not just a technology solution but a business you’re building. Be prepared to take criticism of yourself, your idea and your company. You’ll be fielding a lot of feedback from mentors and other founders so if you haven’t figured out how to ‘trust your gut’ you probably need to have another founder with that skill or learn for yourself. There’s a saying at TechStars that “It’s just data” and it’s true. Your experience, perceptions and beliefs turn it into actionable information. That’s the ‘gut check’ we’re talking about. Get as informed as you can. Read Venture Deals, Do More Faster and Lean Startup at a minimum before you enter the program. I also recommend Business Model Generation as you’ll need to answer the “How do you make money?” question fairly early on.  Finally, be prepared for things to change right in front of you. It’s just how things work today. If the facts change (such as your target audience) and you don’t change your mind… You’re not going to survive. I had to change the founding team on day 1 as well as the business model and product four weeks into the program. Nobody’s fault – we just couldn’t get the companies we were targeting for strategic partnerships to open up. I had to make a decision to change everything and in the end, we came up with a better product that was more disruptive and far more scalable.

Now, one more thing. If you’re in a corporate job and are feeling a little bored, burnt out or just plain “missing opportunities” then you’re in luck. The “corporate refugee” was a recurring theme of many conversations with both the media and mentors. If you’ve been in a corporate position for a while then you bring a wealth of connections, experience and a built in “gut check” of your own. Hopefully you bring a healthy lack of tolerance for bullshit. I strongly encourage you to consider jumping into the Gazelle Lab program if you’re in this situation. I did and I have not regretted it for a second. You can DM me on twitter if you want to talk.

Since this is Part 1, subsequent parts will delve into the “Be prepared to’s” that I spelled out earlier. This is a great time for Tampa Bay, StartupBus is coming in March, StartupWeekend is coming again next year and BarCamp Tampa Bay was the biggest we’ve ever had. Keep pushing!

Red Hawk Interactive Accepted to Gazelle Lab

Red Hawk InteractiveToday I’m pleased to announce that my company, Red Hawk Interactive, has been accepted to participate in Gazelle Lab. When I left my previous role in April it was to get more involved with the growing entrepreneurial and start-up communities that are developing in and around the Tampa Bay area. I also left to start my own company that focused on building digital products in an area that’s disruptive, fast moving, and growing quickly. I’m not ready to share what that is just yet but we’re making progress on a lot of fronts, although we have hit a few bumps lately. Gazelle Lab itself is part of the TechStars Network, which is dedicated to providing seed funding, mentorship, and a vast array of connections. This is my third start-up and in the previous two the biggest obstacles were finding mentors and funding. For Tampa Bay, seed stage funding is almost non-existent. Gazelle Lab and Tech Stars address exactly these issues and give entrepreneurs the immediate resources necessary to stack the deck in the start-ups favor. The heads-down, balls to the wall, three month program wraps up with DEMO Day at Mahaffey Theatre on November 17th in which the start-ups pitch their products and their companies to prospective investors. Take a look at the TechCrunch article for GazelleLab’s launch and the first six companies (including mine) that are participating.

Now it’s just up to us to execute on it.

BarCamp Tampa Bay 2011

BarCamp Tampa BayBarCamp Tampa Bay is returning on Sept 24th to Kforce in Ybor. This year we’ve gone with just a single day and are limiting the sessions to 30 minutes each. Topics will include Social Media, PHP, Ruby, mobile development and much more. Hopefully we’ll see some sys admins and DBA’s presenting as well this year. If you’re not already following @BarCampTampa you’ll find that we will be sending updates from there as well as through the Facebook account. Shortly we’ll have registration and additional information on the freshly redesigned website (courtesy of @DanDenney) as well as sponsorship information. If you’re a business focused on technology, development, new media or are in any way interested in helping support the entrepreneurial community that is growing around the Tampa Bay area, contact me on twitter, I’d be happy to speak with you about our sponsorship packages. You can also follow #BarCampTampa for updates leading up to and during the event.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept behind BarCamp it’s an ‘un conference’ meaning that the attendees themselves present on subjects that they are experienced and passionate about. Aimed primarily at the technology and creative communities, BarCamps provide an annual event to network and share ideas. All of this shows how much talent is in the Tampa Bay area. If you’re a business owner, entrepreneur, or just curious about how much is really going on in the Tampa area, I encourage you to stop by listen to some of the presentations. I think you’ll be highly impressed.

We hope to see you there!

Entrepreneur: Day 30

The bylaws are drafted – in my opinion they’re a bit of overkill, I’ll start pruning back some of the verbiage over the next day. But at a high level you need to answer how the Board of Directors conducts itself – how many seats, how are they elected, terms, scope of the director’s powers over the organization, how the board selects corporate officers, how they’re documented and who can appoint a director in the event of a vacancy. It also needs to state how the bylaws are amended and what constitutes a quorum. The first meeting to get all of this put together is the “organizational meeting of the Board of Directors” and that meeting is where all of this is agreed to and recorded in the meeting minutes. That meeting is this Friday evening. As I’m preparing the agenda and materials for that meeting I’m also working on stock issuance, vesting schedule and dealing with the rest of the paperwork. Also, as a reminder, if you’ve formed a company in Florida, Annual Reports are due May 1 of it’s a $400 penalty. Fortunately, you can file electronically.

Now, to blow off some steam I went with some great friends to Iron Maiden last night. Great show, one of the best I’ve seen in the Forum. Bruce Dickenson is about 52 or 53. He did not stop running for the entire +2 hour show. Non-stop, the guy was always moving. Really impressive and I didn’t see anybody in their seats for the whole show.

Iron Maiden

It’s official! Just got my tickets last night to the last US date for Iron Maiden’s 2011 tour before they head to Europe. I’ve been a fan since Killers came out but never got a chance to see them live. I think the last concert I went to was… Front 242? Either that or Sisters of Mercy.

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