I went to the Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup last night, and as always, had a good time. I ran into Brett Borders, and had a good discussion with him about why BDNT is worth going to. I only go every couple of quarters, but I always learn something, and meet some interesting people (last night, including Marty Frary), and get jazzed about technology again. This particular episode was packed–standing room only. In addition, in the spirit of the season, there was a food drive, which was a nice touch, and a giveaway. One additional change was that the twitter stream was off during presentations, though available during the q&a period (here’s a twitterstream horror story from the presenter’s point of view).
Brad Bernthal gave an overview of Silicon Flatirons (and asked for $ support). This is a center focused on tech, law and entrepeneurship, which puts on a number of programs supporting the Boulder tech scene (I attended and reviewed one a while back: IP Crash Course for Entrepeneurs). Which raises the question–where is the CU CS department? Why is the Law school hosting BDNT and other users’ groups? The CS department does host Colloquia (I attend about one a year), but I don’t think those compare to BDNT, et al.
After Brad, we moved on to jobs and events. I was glad to see a number of jobs pop up. Over the last year, at BDNT there were always some developer jobs available, but this time there was also a marketing job. Hope it’s a sign that the Boulder tech job market is thawing (for folks other than developers). There were 8 job announcements, though one of them was equity only. About half of the presenting companies said they were looking to hire as well. As far as events, KGNU is having a fundraiser called ‘Beers With Brad’. Ignite Boulder 7 is only a week away (here’s an interesting post on how to organize Ignites).
On to presentations…
- The Blog Frog presented on their platform to turn blogs into communities. This is an interesting space–you can see competitors in Ning, MyBlogLog and Google Friend Connect, though they all approach the issue from a different angle. The Blog Frog is aimed at automating community creation, and have focused on mommy bloggers (as a large, valuable group). We did not get a demo from them, and I haven’t signed up for their service for any of my blogs, but they definitely have a cool value proposition–helping niche content providers build their communities and reach advertisers and interested people. You can see a presentation from them 7 months ago; it sounds like their business model has evolved significantly.
- The Unreasonable Institute presented next. They bill themselves as ‘Techstars for social entrepeneurs’, but they have a few differences. Instead of picking applicants and providing them money, they want applicants to fundraise to provide a fee and idea validation. After applicants are selected, they do get funds throughout the 10 week program, as well as mentoring, chance to pitch, etc, etc. The presentor said that the applications already received were split equally between the for-profit, non-profit and hybrid models. So, the funding pitches would include VCs/angels as well as foundations–an interesting twist and a great way to increase connections between those communities. They are accepting applications for the 2010 summer until Dec 15th.
- Letitia Pleis, from Metro State College of Denver, gave a great talk on the tax implications of equity as payment. She covered three scenarios. Unrestricted (‘here’s 10% of the company, please write software!’) which is taxed as income at the time of the grant and also implies a great deal of trust in the payee. Restricted (‘here’s 10% of the company, it vests in 3 years’) which is taxed as income at the time the grant is vested, possibly leading to a massive increase in taxes due, unless you perform an section 83(b) election within 30 days of the grant (one person spoke up and said they’d be bitten by this). Unrestricted profits interest gives the grantee claim on a percentage of future profits. She was at the end of her time, so we didn’t hear as much about this option as I would have liked.
- Next up was a gadget review. I’m not a gadget head, so I didn’t take notes on this, but they did give away a Sonos system. Well, the winner earned it by knowing what the original cost of a Apple I system was ($666.66).
- Public Earth presented next. They are a wiki of places; the presentor said just like Netflix lets you collect your favorite movies, Public Earth will let you collect your favorite places. (And they hope to have scale like wikipedia–he said that they plan to move beyond the ‘where’s the nearest restaurant’ level. I looked for ‘slot canyons’ in UT, for example, and they had some. I think they need to work on their linking, because I couldn’t get a link for my query to post. But, on the upside, they don’t support IE6!) They have 5M points in their database already, and just went live. The wiki aspect is very interesting to me; I wonder whether they’ll get a critical mass of users to do spam policing. It’s an interesting contrast to Google My Maps–PE has a slicker interface and more sharing features.
- Last was RTP, with their sick iphone app, Real Ski. This is an augmented reality application that helps you locate points of interest (bathroom, particular runs) when you’re out skiing. They obviously couldn’t demo it at BDNT, but they had a video demo, and it looked killer. It should be on the App Store soon–5 area maps free, 99 cents for every other ski area map. They also asked for advice from the community about selling a B2C app; RTP apparently is a B2B company. Pricing, scale, and accuracy were mentioned, but nothing really profound. This question might be a better asked on twitter, or in some forum that allows more interaction. (I searched, and was interested to see that no one had posted advice for them on twitter.)
The only complaint I had with this BDNT was that there were no demos (apart from the gadgets). Several pseudo-demos (aka powerpoint slides/videos), and interesting and relevant presentations, but I think that live demos really add a lot and are in the spirit of the meetup.