Coming off the fun time we had at Tech Cocktail 4 last week, we’ve been following up with all the great contacts that we made at the event. One of the nicest guys we hooked up with at Tech Cocktail was Mike Carruth, founder of Digital Bootcamp, a Chicago training facility that offers courses for the aspiring online creative. We visited the Digital Bootcamp offices twice this past week, for very different reasons.
The first was due to pure luck – Digital Bootcamp’s demo was right next to ours at Tech Cocktail, so on a whim I entered their raffle, where you guess the number of Digital Bootcamp dogtags in a big mason jar. Who knew that jar could hold over 600 dogtags? I ended up with the closest guess, so over the weekend we visited Mike (while sporting my Menuism tee) to pick up my prize – a nifty iPod nano. Sweet!
If that was all there was to say about Digital Bootcamp, this would’ve been just a “yay-I-won-something” post, but it’s definitely not. Besides being a successful entrepreneur (DB’s going strong after 15 years), Mike hosts a monthly “Circle of Progress” Entrepreneur’s Meetup group, where entrepreneurs of all backgrounds meet to keep each other accountable. Justin and I attended last night and found it helpful. There usually aren’t many people around to keep an entrepreneur on track, so having a support group of some kind, structured or not, is critical to keeping things rolling. The “Circle of Progress” records member’s monthly commitments, so it’s easy to track what’s been accomplished or not, but the most valuable aspect is simply declaring publicly what you intend to do in the coming month and what you did and didn’t accomplish last month – peer pressure and public humiliation works wonders.
Justin and I have tried on and off to do something like this with our networks in Seattle and Chicago, and hopefully seeing what Mike’s done with this group will be the kick in the butt necessary to get something really going. Mike’s doing some neat stuff here in Chicago – if you get a chance drop by the DB offices and have him show you his neat auction purchases.
More on accountability to come!
I’m back in Chicago for another productive and fun working session for Menuism. This winter’s been unseasonably cold in Seattle, so I was looking forward to getting out of town, but arriving to temps in the 20s here was like jumping out of the fridge and into the freezer. I’d forgotten how the wind cuts through your clothing here, and the last time I experienced it was nearly a year ago, when we kicked off our little Two-Bit Operation. Happy birthday to us soon – we’ll recap the year in a coming post.
We timed this trip to coincide with one of our favorite networking events – Tech Cocktail 3, which was held at Amira at the base of the NBC tower. Hosts Eric and Frank have perfected the simple formula for bringing together the Midwest tech community – take a swanky lounge, add an open bar, and make the whole thing free. The local community’s definitely taken to the idea, with attendence nearly doubling at each successive event.
Justin and I had lots of fun at the last one, and last night didn’t disappoint. Amira’s a large venue, but even with all that space things got crowded quickly and lots of people were turned away at the door. Previous sponsor Singlehop outdid itself this time, providing complimentary (strong!) martinis poured through glowing frog ice sculptures. Thankfully, this time there weren’t any video interviewers to stumble in front of after one-too-many free drinks. =)
More than the venue and the free drinks, the best part of TC was meeting interesting people and hearing about their projects. It was nice to reconnect with old friends and make new connections, though with so many in attendance it got hard to find everyone we wanted to. For more detailed coverage, check out WindyBits‘ coverage here.
As for actual work, we’ve got a couple things lined up for Menuism in the coming weeks that we’re really excited about and working hard on – stay tuned for more!
As mentioned in the previous post, the focus of this working session in Chicago has been on networking and setting up a marketing plan. One of the biggest highlights of the trip so far has been attending Tech Cocktail 2, a quarterly networking event for techies and entrepreneurs in the Midwest. We’d been eagerly looking forward to attending since we had just missed the first one in July, and we were definitely happy that we went.
The event was held at The Gramercy, a narrow, modern lounge in downtown Chicago that was far too small to accomodate such a massive turnout. Who knew that it was so easy to assemble 400+ motivated and enthusiastic entrepreneurs around the Chicago area? I’m sure some of the enthusiasm (ours included) was due to the open bar, which ended up being extended on the spot by the founder of Vonage.
The evening started off slow for us but picked up quickly as the lounge filled up with people and we filled up with beer. Midway through the night we took off our standard-issue collared shirts to expose our nifty Menuism t-shirts as we recorded a video podcast with LiquidTalk Networks. Having matching black tshirts with an attractive design (available for purchase soon…!) and being two of a handful of asians in attendance got us a lot of attention, and we had a fantastic time meeting with notables from operations like Feedburner, AOL, TechnologyEvangelist, NBC 5 and many more. We even got to meet and greet with the organizers of Techcocktail, who are absolutely awesome for providing the midwest tech community with a much-needed forum to mingle (and cool guys to boot). All in all, Tech Cocktail 2 went far better than we could have hoped – you can read the official writeup here.
So what’s next? On top of the work we’ve already planned, we’ve got a bunch of great leads to follow up with, and we need to start thinking about the next big networking event on our horizon: Seattle Mindcamp.