Archive for June, 2011

Startup Weekend Las Vegas Thoughts

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

As I posted a couple months ago, I was part of the organizing committee that brought the Startup Weekend event to Las Vegas. By all accounts, it was a huge success. The sold out event was completely packed and full of great startup energy. It makes me wonder how many more people would have come if we hadn’t sold out.

We even got a ton of great media coverage over the course of the weekend. The RJ did a great article on Startup Weekend Las Vegas before the event and Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, talked about it on Jon Ralston’s Face to Face (which I embedded below).

Then, during and after the event we had news coverage from the RJ, ABC Channel 13, Fox, CBS Channel 8, and I’m sure I missed some others. It was really great to have all this coverage of tech startups in Las Vegas.

However, more important than all that coverage was the buzz that happened within the tech and startup community in Las Vegas. The connections that happened thanks to Startup Weekend is what I really wanted to have happen because of Startup Weekend. I wanted startup companies and internet startup minded people to have a chance to meet and come together. That happened in spades during startup weekend.

Whether any of the ideas that were started this weekend at Startup Weekend will continue after the event really doesn’t matter to me. What I do know is that many of the relationships and connections that were made at the event will endure for many many years to come. This is why I call Startup Weekend a raging success.

I was also really excited by the caliber of judges that we had on the Startup Weekend judging panel. I think it was best summarized by a tweet from @JonMumm:

No doubt, it was an incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs in Las Vegas to be able to present and interact with the likes of Tony Hsieh, Kevin Rose, Tom Anderson, Josh Reich, and Ryan Carson. Not bad to have founders and investors from a number of billion dollar companies on the judging panel.

I think the weekend is nicely summed up in a quote of mine the RJ published:

“We learned that Las Vegas has enough tech companies to actually have a tech scene, but none of us knew about each other,” said John Lynn owner of Crashutah.com, a website creation and marketing business in Las Vegas. “This event was the start of bringing those companies together so Las Vegas can begin to build its tech scene.”

Certainly this was the start of something and not the end. The question is, Where will we take it from here?

There’s no one individual that’s going to make it happen. Instead it’s going to take a little bit of effort from a whole lot of people to continue to grow the Las Vegas startup community. I’m committed to continue doing my part to grow the community. I hope everyone will do the same.

I love the quote that says, “Many hands make light work.” That’s definitely applicable to growing the tech startup community in Las Vegas. Let’s all help grow the community.

Fall Back Las Vegas Startup Companies

Monday, June 20th, 2011

I know I’m kind of crazy to admit it, but one of my hobbies is to read venture capitalist and startup entrepreneur blogs. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to go after VC money for a startup company of my own. I haven’t needed to do so yet, but maybe one day. Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy it as a hobby.

As I mentioned in my last update, I’ve been doing what I can to help grow the internet startup eco-system in Las Vegas. As I continue to meet more Las Vegas entrepreneurs, I see all sorts of challenges and issues related to the Las Vegas startup eco-system. One of those issues is having more Fall Back Las Vegas Startup Companies.

This is one of the powerful features of a city with a strong startup environment. The numbers are against every startup company. If I remember right, it’s something like 9 of every 10 startup companies fails (and that might be being generous). That means the majority of new companies that are created are going to fail. We need more Las Vegas startup companies so that if and when a startup company fails the founders and employees of those companies know they have other companies they can go and work for.

One beauty of silicon valley and other startup hubs is that the culture accepts companies failing and there are other opportunities if and when it does fail. Certainly even in silicon valley they aren’t happy when the company they’re working for fails. However, at least when it does happen, they have a lot of other companies that will hire them. They don’t have to go start parking cars to pay the bills, but can move on to another startup company. Rinse and repeat.

Ok, I may be oversimplifying it a little bit, but the ability of a city to absorb talented people who worked for a startup company that’s failed is something I’d love to see happen in Las Vegas.

Creating a list of Las Vegas startup companies like we’ve started to do is the first step. Events like Startup Weekend Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Jellies are another step. Little by little, we’ll get there. The strip wasn’t built in a night. A Las Vegas startup eco-system won’t be either.

Father’s Day

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

I guess I should have made my post that I published earlier today about my Father since it is Father’s Day. Although, as I thought about my father, I think they my previous post about all the amazing things I’m doing really just might be the best Father’s Day present I could offer my father.

You have to understand that my day has the entrepreneurial bone in his body. Well, maybe not the bone, but he has it in his head. The desire to be an entrepreneur has always been my father’s dream and it’s always alluded him. He’s tried over and over and never really succeeded at it.

I still remember as a young child sitting around listening to my dad talk about this business or that business. Inevitably he would use a line that went something like this, “If I only have XXXX customers paying $X.XX a month, then I’ll be set.” It didn’t matter if it was Amway, Investing, Life Insurance, or some other company that my dad tried to do. I was always there to sit there and listen.

I think even as a young child I would challenge my dad on his assumptions. I really wanted to learn how it was going to work, what the commission structure was, and how he was going to grow the business. Obviously, I’d inherited that same entrepreneurial bone. I’d ask him hard questions like “How are you going to get XXXX customers.” And the always popular, “What if you only get X customers?”

I certainly was a precocious young kid wasn’t I? I guess I still am. Just ask any entrepreneur that I’ve talked to. I never enjoy people that say “That sounds good.” or “I really like that idea” when I ask them for some feedback on something I’m doing. I prefer someone who’s going to ask me the hard questions and help me to be able to answer them.

So while my Father’s unfortunately never reached his dream of entrepreneurial nirvana, I hope my Father’s proud of all the entrepreneurial success I’ve had. The reality is that without my father I wouldn’t be nearly the entrepreneur that I am today. Not only did I get his genetic traits, but I also learned incredibly valuable lessons from his experiences that made me who I am today.

Thanks Dad!

Life is Good – Busy, but Good

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

The last month or so I’ve been extraordinarily busy. Actually, much busier than I like. However, I love all the projects that I’m working on and so I keep driving them all forward. Here’s a quick summary of what I have going on (in no particular order).

I’ve helped organize Startup Weekend Las Vegas (happens this weekend…Woot!). I’m happy to say that Startup Weekend Las Vegas has sold out. I can’t wait for this weekend.

Along with Startup Weekend, I’ve grown this new passion for trying to do some small part in helping to grow the number of internet startup companies and internet startup entrepreneurs in Las Vegas. I even launched with the help of a number of other people a new blog called Las Vegas Startups. However, the most rewarding part of it all has been the number of interesting Las Vegas internet entrepreneurs that I’ve met since doing these things. It’s a great feeling to be connected to so many interesting and amazing people. I can feel that it’s laying the ground work for something special in Las Vegas.

Many of you probably don’t know of my love for Ultimate Frisbee. Well, it’s real and fantastic. I always say my addiction to ultimate frisbee is my key to staying skinny (or at least relatively skinny). Lately, I’ve been helping to keep the Las Vegas Ultimate frisbee community organized. It’s a completely selfish desire since it’s hard to play ultimate frisbee without other players. I even organized a Las Vegas summer ultimate frisbee league which starts on Monday. We exceeded our registration goal and so life is good.

On the blog side of things, I’ve grown the Healthcare Scene blog network to 14 EMR and Health IT related blogs and still growing. Almost every site in the network is growing and improving in all the important metrics. I think we’re up to 9 people blogging across the network. I certainly couldn’t do it without all their help. July 1st, I’m changing the way I handle ads on the various websites. Let’s hope that the change goes well. Each day I’m in awe at the power of blogging and the influence blogs can have.

The Pure TV Network is doing really well. Pure DWTS, Pure SYTYCD and Pure America’s Got Talent are all killing it with amazing readership (and amazing writers that help me) and we even launched Pure X Factor. I’m lucky to work with the dozen or so writers that participate on those sites. After reading this post, I think they’ll realize why I haven’t had as much time to post myself.

I also just got put in as Scoutmaster. I’d been an Assistant Scoutmaster for the past couple years, so it hasn’t been all that much different. Just getting to know some new leaders and help them understand how scouting works. I love the impact a Scoutmaster can have on these fine Young Men. I can’t wait until July when I’m going up to a high adventure camp for a week. Certainly there’s some level of service required to be a Scoutmaster, but honestly I’ll probably have as much fun at this camp as the boys. Although, don’t tell my wife I said that. That’s the only bad part about scouting, being away from my wife and kids.

On that note, I’ve saved the best for last. I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with my kids lately. Mostly because my wife took off for a week to go on a Sister’s trip. It’s been pretty exciting watching the kids for a week. We’ve had some good time to bond. I’m sure I couldn’t do it all the time like my wife does, but I’m glad I had time to enjoy my children. I’m even happier my wife got a break and some time away from the children. Needless to say, I’ll be very happy to have my wife back.

There’s my update. As you can see, I have one or two things going on right now. Not that any of you really care, but I started writing and just couldn’t stop. There’s something therapeutic about getting it out in the open.

One Trick I Use to Remember to Be Thankful

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

I’m not going to go into a long rant about why it’s so important and valuable to show gratitude and be thankful in this life. Suffice it to say that I’m a big believer in the idea of gratitude and being grateful for the things, people and even the challenges that life brings. It not only enriches your life to be thankful, but it also enriches the life of those around you.

I’m certainly not perfect at this, but I generally appreciate the life I have and have many things to be grateful for even if sometimes I forget.

I think it was about 6 years ago when I moved to Las Vegas that I started doing something that helps me to remember to be thankful. It’s a small, subtle thing, but pretty much every email I’m provided a reminder to be thankful.

The trick happens with the signature that I include in my emails. Thankfully, a while back Gmail figured out how to do email signatures properly (on a per email address basis) and so I’ve really leveraged the benefit of their email signature. Not only does it put some nice links to my various websites and phone number (when desired), but the signature helps me to know that I’m sending the email from the right account. I use Gmail’s awesome feature which lets me send as if from dozens of domains all from one email account.

When using the signature feature though, I deliberately set it up to not put “Thanks,” before my signature. Sure, I could include it in the signature and save me a few seconds by not having to type it. However, that’s why I actually leave it off. I want to take a few seconds every email to think about being thankful. In fact, every once in a while, I consider whether I should include thanks in an email or not. However, dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of times each day I take a few seconds to write “Thanks,” in my emails.

Sure, sometimes even typing it so often I forget to be really thankful. However, many times a day I do think about being grateful when I type it. It’s certainly a small and subtle thing, but it’s a small thing which I think makes a huge difference.

If you want to be more thankful, try it out and let me know how it goes.