Archive for March, 2011

Silicon Las Vegas

Friday, March 11th, 2011

I had this little link stored away in my draft posts. It’s an article about a man named Michael Tchong who sees Las Vegas as a future Silicon Valley. The article is a nice read and does a good job talking about the challenges of internet startups in Las Vegas. However, I agree that there’s some real potential here in Las Vegas for entrepreneurship and specifically internet startups.

I did a little more digging and found Michael Tchong’s website called ubercool (nice name). He also has a twitter account by the same name and it even lists Las Vegas, NV as it’s location. So, I guess he does live in Las Vegas according to Twitter. Although, if you look at his speaking schedule on his website, it looks like he travels a whole lot. He does seem to have a pretty interesting background and so I hope that one day I get to meet him.

It’s fun to think about Silicon Las Vegas. There are some tremendous upsides to living in Las Vegas versus Silicon Valley. Not the least of which is the now very inexpensive housing. Of course, there are some challenges as well. This quote from the article linked at the top is one of the largest ones:

Information technology and Web publishing employees comprise less than 1 percent of our workforce, according to the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV, meaning Las Vegas isn’t exactly a tech hotbed.

Of course, the fact that UNLV categorizes them as information technology and web publishing (who uses that term?) should say something about the area as well. There’s so little activity they don’t even know how to categorize it.

However, the article is right that Las Vegas could use a few more Zappos like companies to make their home here. While the jobs from those companies would be good. There’s even a greater value of having technology companies like Google and Yahoo located in a city, because many of their employees will end up quiting and starting their own companies. Or they will leave the large tech companies and provide the future work force for the smaller internet startups.

If I were in Las Vegas politics, I’d be working to bring some of those large tech companies to Las Vegas. It would be worth the cost.

A Different Kind of Entrepeneurship

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

I know that there are lots of arguments all over the internet about whether entrepreneurs are born or made and of course the right answer is it’s somewhere in the middle. Some people’s nature would never make it as an entrepreneur and some people’s environment makes it impossible for them to be entrepreneurs.

However, I’m a strong believer that you get what you want. If your heart is set on being an entrepreneur then you’ll more than likely end up with that result. It’s hard to stop a person’s strong desire and passion.

I think one of the biggest problem we have is what we define as an entrepeneur. Don’t get me wrong. I think there is a very big difference between small business and entrepreneurship. For example, a mechanic runs a small business. Unless they have a dozen repair shops. Then, they become entrepeneurs.

However, I think we also love to glorify the entrepreneurs who get hundreds of thousand or millions in funding which they burn through like a women burns through cash in a shoe store.

My favorite is when groups define entrepreneurship by revenue. So what if you have $500k in revenue if you have $1 million in expenses. I’d rather have the entrepreneur with $300k in revenue and $200k in profit. It is certainly a different approach to entrepreneurship, but just as valid as the former in many cases.

The key for me is that an entrepreneur sees a way to make 10 times the amount they were making with the same amount of effort.

Plus, the reality when your an entrepreneur in a place like Las Vegas is you have to be smarter with your money since the investment dollars don’t flow the same way in Las Vegas (at least for internet startups in Vegas). I think this is a really healthy thing and it is why I’m glad to be a different kind of entrepreneur in Las Vegas.

Journalist versus Blogger

Friday, March 4th, 2011

A week or two ago, I attended a really big conference in Orlando for one of the niches I blog about. When I say really big I mean 31,000 attendees and 1000 exhibitors. It’s pretty outrageous.

Although, I say it’s like being a kid in a candy store. As a blogger, I need content and advertisers. Each of the exhibitors at the event were potentially both: content and advertisers. Of course, it was my job to get the great content from these people and to also show them the advertising possibilities. With 1000 advertisers, I had to be pretty selective, but either way it was a lot of fun. Tiring, but fun.

A few interesting things happened in this process. First, is that I spent a decent amount of time in the press room for the conference. It’s a nice relatively quiet place to sit down, use the internet, charge my devices, and grab something to eat (except the day they ran out of food). The other fun part about the press room is that you get the chance to meet a bunch of other press people at the conference. I definitely met some really nice and interesting people.

Although, I overheard a conversation in the press room that really made me think. One of the journalists was talking to another journalist about a story they were working on. They talked about how they hadn’t seen much about a certain topic at the conference.

Ok, so you’re probably thinking that’s not that earth shattering. It’s not. However, it did cause me to stop and think through the process that these journalists go through to write a story. They have a specific topic in mind and they go out and find the information related to that topic.

In fact, I saw a story just like this come out of the conference. It was about all the walking you did at a conference of this size and the challenge of standing in a booth all day. The story was actually pretty good and made me laugh. Although, you could just imagine this journalist going from booth to booth asking exhibitors about their feet and how they were feeling. You could imagine they had this story in mind as they searched out people’s experience with it.

The funny thing is that I really rarely have a story in my head as I go into a meeting with someone or when I attend the conference. Certainly I will have prepared to know the person and/or company that I’m learning about. I’ll have considered questions I want to ask them that might bring out some interesting information, but I have no agenda going in. Well, the only agenda I have is to pull out something interesting from what they said that will be of value to my readers.

As one vendor said, you go in trying to find out what the story really is and don’t go in trying to find info that backs the story you want to write.

Quite honestly, as a blogger, the story basically writes itself. Maybe the difference between me as a blogger and a journalist is that I want to be a thought leader. I don’t want to just tell a story or report on something that happened. I want to provide value above and beyond telling a great story or reporting news.

One of the exhibitors that I talked to asked me what my editorial calendar looked like. I must admit that I was a little stumped on how to respond to him. I was partially familiar with the idea of an editorial calendar and I could see how it could be beneficial for advertisers to know that you were going to be writing about a specific topic in a specific time frame.

I still haven’t quite reconciled those two things. I guess I mostly reconcile it now by creating blogs that target a specific niche. Rarely do I stray from that niche. So, when someone wants to know what I’m going to write about on my blog, they can be sure it’s going to be information about that specific niche.

My response to that exhibitor (and hopefully future advertiser) wasn’t very good. I think I replied that I have 300+ draft blog posts topic that I can choose from. So, I look through those to decide what topic I might post about next. Plus, as I read and learn about the industry I create new draft blog posts which basically contain ideas or links to things that I could write about.

Most of my blogs aren’t about breaking news. They’re not about reporting events. Those are time sensitive and require a ton of commitment and connections to do really well. Instead, by focusing my blogs on being a thought leader and open forum for other people to share their thoughts, I’m able to create content that isn’t very time sensitive. In fact, I might write a week’s worth of posts and then go on vacation for a week. I come back to a zillion comments that I missed and need to look at, but at least I have that freedom.

There you go. There’s my take on the difference between a blogger and a journalist. What’s your experience?