How to Start a Two-Bit Operation: Small Business Tips

From start to small business. Learn and live vicariously.

Over the weekend I went to my first Barcamp in LA.  Barcamp is defined in wikipedia as follows:

BarCamp is an international network of user generated conferences — open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants — often focusing on early-stage web applications, and related open sourcetechnologies, social protocols, and open data formats.

Basically it’s a place where people get together to talk about technology with each other in a fun and conversational way.  There’s very few rules or no preset schedule of topics.  If you want to talk, just put your name and topic on the schedule board.  Topics range widely from talking about multi-threading in web applications, business plans, to whiskey tasting for beginners.  Barcamp LA 6 was free and hosted by Mahalo with a pretty good turnout of about 150 people.  Here are my quick thoughts: 

  • Twitter, twitter, twitter.  It felt like there was more interaction over twitter than in person.  As soon as I walked in, I saw dozens of laptops setup on a huge conference table with people twittering and blogging.  Even during the sessions, people were twittering on their laptops and cell phones.  I guess this is easier than talking to people face to face.  You can follow me on twitter here
  • The introductions are fun.  Amazing that we went through over 100 people in about 10 min.  Restricting the talking time to name and 3 tags did wonders. 
  • My favorite session was by Francisco Dao over at The Killer Pitch.  He was a great speaker and also gave out autographed copies of his book. 
  • Mahalo has a pretty nice office space.  It’s fun yet not over the top like Rubicon Project’s.

I didn’t get to stick around for the whiskey session, but I’m sure that would have been fun.  Next time!  Barcamps happen all over the world so I definitely recommend checking it out.  It’s free and geeks are more friendly and down to earth than most other types of convention attendees.


October 28th, 2008

Posted In: Networking

Tags: ,

etched iphoneAfter I moved to Los Angeles about a month ago, John came down and we hit up a few of the networking events here.  Quick thoughts:

  • Twiistup 4: $50 ticket.  Some free appetizers.  No free alcohol (in fact, pricey Viceroy Santa Monica prices).  Sponsors that paid alot for bungalows, but still no free admission or drinks.  We ended up going across the street to Cha Cha Chicken to eat dinner since the appetizers were sorta slow.  For the amount of money we spent on the ticket, food and drinks, I think it would have been cheaper to fly to Chicago for the next Tech Cocktail (which I might do).  The coolest thing was the free iPhone etching from Etchstar.
  • Digital Drinks LA: This was at Sky Bar in Hollywood, which is apparently a pretty exclusive bar on the hill overlooking LA.  $10 ticket.  Nothing included.  Hotel only has valet parking.  Drinks were priced at $18 a shot!!  Loud club music.  Very little lighting.  
My initial feeling is that LA events try too hard to be hollywood-ish.  Too much effort is on having a trendy venue, expensive drinks, music, and really good looking and well dressed people.  Don’t get me wrong, I like my share of all of those things, but not for a technology networking event.  I want to be able to talk to genuine people who aren’t just there to be seen, push their products or recruit people for their free-spending startups (did you know The Rubicon Project’s office was the set of the first season of “24”?? wonder how much that costs…). 
I’ll keep looking for more economical and efficient ways of networking in LA.  Drop me a line if you have suggestions.

August 19th, 2008

Posted In: Los Angeles, Networking

Tags: , , ,

I’m going to be in the SF bay area (Mountain View to be specific) from Aug 27th to Sept 7. Email me (justin [at] if:

  • you know of an event I should check out
  • want to grab a coffee or lunch
  • know someone I should meet
  • have a restaurant recommendation

This is going to be my longest trip back to the area since moving in 2005 so I’m excited to visit my old stomping grounds like Los Alto Taqueria. 🙂

– Justin

August 23rd, 2007

Posted In: Networking

Eric and Frank, you’ve spoiled me with TechCocktail. Now everytime I go to an tech event, I expect everything to be free (most importantly the booze)…
Despite the $25 cover ($20 w/ coupon) and having to pay for 3 beers, I had a good time at Twiistup 2 at the Air Conditioned Supper Club in Venice last night. It was pretty much what I expected when you blend LA with tech:

  • A pretty swanky lounge with a DJ spinning tunes
  • A special rockstar appearance and performance by Bono (well, a pseudo one)
  • Lots of media and video – 2 projectors constantly playing video clips and a couple different video cameras circling the venue interviewing people
  • IMG_1553Free swag everywhere (my favorites were the mousepads from Userplane)
  • Valet parking

Of course, there were also tech demos by local web 2.0 companies. Here are the ones I chatted with:

  • ThisNext – A very cool social shopping site. As you shop online you can bookmark items at different online stores and add them to the ThisNext community. It’s a great way to find the hot new items on the web.
  • CampusBug – Social education where you can earn money for being helpful. Flashcards, test prep, study guides, etc.
  • Faqqly – How do you get to know your friends? You ask them personal questions. That’s what you can do on Faqqly.
  • ElephantDrive – Online storage where you can go signup and get 1 gb free. Now there’s no excuse for not backing up those critical files.

Pretty good for my first event since moving back to So Cal. Let me know if there are other events I should hit up!

– Justin

August 9th, 2007

Posted In: Networking, twiistup

likemindWorking from home can be mind-numbing, so I usually jump at the opportunity to leave the house and meet new people. I wasn’t exactly jumping this morning to make an early trek into Seattle to check out my first likemind meeting, but afterwards I was really glad I attended.

According to the website, likemind is “an opportunity to enjoy coffee and conversation.” Friendly, chatty folks have free coffee (hooray for sponsors) and meet other similarly gregarious people in one of 32 different cities across the world. Justin attended a Chicago likemind a few months back and recommended it, and I’d second that opinion. Attendees tend more towards the creative types, which is a refreshing alternative to other meetups I’ve frequented lately, and they aren’t that likeminded – that’d make conversation excruciatingly boring. 🙂 But they are similar in having the right attitude, which is what makes it work.

Likemind’s been growing rapidly since starting last year, and today is likemind’s first birthday – congrats to founders Piers and Noah. They’ve got a good thing going, and it’s something folks in Seattle should definitely check it out. Hopefully I’ll see you at the next one.


July 20th, 2007

Posted In: Learning, likemind, Networking

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