Recap of Startup Weekend

A few quick notes on a fun event I attended the last few days.  Startup Weekend is a 54 hour event that provides the networking, resources, and incentives for individuals and teams to go from idea to launch.

In a nutshell, I was one of 80 people to show up on Friday evening, where 28 people pitched ideas for products/companies that they wanted to build in the next 2 days, with this event being focused around mobile and gaming.  We whittled the 28 ideas down to 13, and everyone split into teams to tackle the projects.  

The crowd was an eclectic mix of developers, designers, database guys, product managers and a few random biz dev and marketing guys thrown in.  I’ll admit I was a little nervous venturing into this crew.  I’m a marketing guy, so I get pretty intimidated by guys who have the technical firepower to make things suddenly appear.  But the goal of something like this is to surround yourself with big brains and meet people who inspire you through their expertise and accomplishments, so I tried to dive right in and meet as many interesting people as I could. 

The product ideas ranged form the ridiculous to the useful, to the obscure to the just plain odd.  But at the end of the weekend, a few groups had launched some pretty cool stuff.  And even though some of the projects weren’t fully baked by Sunday night, there were definitely a few things to watch out for.  A few highlights:

(Keep in mind that these projects went from an idea to execution in 54 hours…)

Nubi Nubi: A bunch of talented artists and dev guys created a little app where a little avatar would dance to the beat of music you picked for him.   You could change the dance moves by clicking on different buttons.  Cool revenue opps as you buy more avatars, dance moves, music, and more.

Doodle A Doodle: The winner of the event, this iPad app is designed so that kids can learn to draw (or trace) by tracing over images on the screen.  There’s a social network component that parents and kids can enjoy.

Hold It: The crowd favorite for humor.  In this game, you are a Men’s room Attendant, and you must coordinate what people get to use what stall in the john.  Some characters need privacy, some need space, some are obnoxious, etc…  But you must use your skill to gain points by putting people at urinals and toilets they feel comfortable at.

Happy Food:  Think a cross between Foursquare, Yelp and Urbanspoon.  This app allows you to search for restaurants that cater to special diets, such as Vega, Gluten Free, Nut Free, etc…make recommendations, and provide useful feedback.

Task Me: I dug this organizational app, even though it’s not done yet.  I spend enough time using iPhone’s Notepad as a To Do list, that this would be huge if they get it done.  Please do it guys…

There were a ton of other cool ideas, and the density of super smart people and knowledge sharing was something I hadn’t been part of for years and years.  It was amazing to see such a spirit of collaboration amongst people who don’t know each other.  Plus, many of the people there were actually doing pretty interesting things with their real job.  

Startup Weekend is one of those events where you can just go and get energized by the spirit and collective intelligence of the people in the room.  On one hand, it’s a great place to get humbled, as you see people doing things in real time that shouldn’t be possible to do that quickly.  On the other hand, you get an ego boost, because you are able to make an impact and provide your area of expertise to a group of people whose skills you admire, but who have no ability to mimic your own abilities.

I have 100 good stories to tell you about my team.  My group’s leader was a fascinating guy by the name of Michael Crick.  He would tell these random stories all thru the weekend, and many of them would make me stop what I was doing, look over with a curious stare and say, “Shut the h— up, you did not do that.”   Here’s a teaser.  I was trying to bang out a marketing plan, while Michael offhandedly told a story of a video game he built long ago.  I almost broke my neck when I asked, “Wait a sec.  You wrote the spec for the original Madden Football?” I can’t even do the rest of the stories justice in print, but trust me, they are worth buying me a beer to hear.

Moral of the story.  Whether you can market, develop, design, or whatever other talent you have, get yourself to a Startup Weekend.  Because anything else you have planned for the weekend is less fun, less interesting, and will get you less satisfaction.  Bring a good idea, build a team, and make cool stuff happen.

Bonanzle Review – “The Best eBay Alternative We’ve Seen”

Bonanzle, a young and exciting company we recently started working with, just received a fantastic review from

An alternative to Craiglist and Ebay, Bonanzle is designed to make it easier for people to buy and sell products online.  Given the state and direction of the economy today, any way to make it easier to move used merchandise is positioned to do well.  Some choice quotes from the article:

“You get Bonanzle
— an eBay alternative that is quite simply, the best I’ve seen in my
four years of reviewing and writing about start-up marketplaces aimed
at taking sellers away from eBay.”

The Bonanzle platform was designed in-house from
the ground up, so not only does the site look very different from other
alternative sites, but this is the reason why the tools and features on
this site are so radically different.

The best way to experience Bonanzle is simply to log
on and try it. What you will find is that Harding and his team of
self-titled “action-minded experts” have managed to offer sellers more
features in this one site than any alternative to date, yet keep the
entire site and selling process simple, compact and super-easy to use.

Check out the whole article, and please Digg it or add it to Delicious if you would be so kind.

The Oddest, Most Uninterpretable, Top 50 List Ever Created

So, FastCompany, a publication I really enjoy, just released a Top 50 list of “Reader Favorites.”

In their opening paragraph, they say: “You nominated companies. You rated them. You commented on them. In the
end, we have the 50 companies that you, our readers, have chosen as the
most innovative.”

Now I looked through this list.  And I now have absolutely no idea how I would ever create an ad that could run in Fast Company.  Sure, there are a few companies in here that make obvious sense (like FedEx and Zipcar), and a bunch that I don’t know anything about.  But here are some questions I have:

  • How does a top 50 list of “Innovative Companies” not include Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft or Amazon? 
  • The Boston Red Sox?  Innovation?   Huh? 
  • Weber Shandwick?  A PR firm?  Interesting.

Anyway, here’s the list:
1. Marathon Technologies
2. Data Robotics, Inc.
3. Sales Spider
4. Consorte Media
5. YouMail
6. Greenplum
7. Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, Inc.
8. Slalom Consulting
9. Persistent Systems
10. VBT
11. JVKellyGroup, Inc.
12. BlogHer
13. Bluepulse
14. Our Hope Place
15. Illumina
16. Bomgar
17. Amerikal Products Corporation
18. Brand Sense Partners
19. Datran Media
20. KACE
21. Ovation Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
22. Paramount Defenses Inc.
23. GridApp Systems
24. The Rubicon Project
25. Varonis
26. mSpot, Inc.
27. Mozilla Corporation
28. Fenway Sports Group/Boston Red Sox
29. Operative
30., Inc.
31. Peanut Labs, Inc.
32. Validus DC Systems, LLC
33. 11i Networks Inc.
34. Imagekind
35. Fresco Microchip
36. Canaan Partners
37. Zipcar
38. ActiveCare Network, LLC
39. Lehigh Technologies, Inc.
40. Citrix Systems, Inc.
41. BDNA
43. Weber Shandwick
45. The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies
46. 4Home
47. Junk my Car LLC
48. Luminex Corporation
49. FedEx
50. SynthaSite

Join Team “No Runner Left Behind” at the Beat the Bridge Run

btb02.JPGIn the 2007 Beat the Bridge Run, our small but dedicated 10 man team got 90% of us across the bridge in time (full story here.) While that’s pretty good, that is still leaving one behind and we don’t want to do that in 2008.

If you didn’t join us last year, you missed out on a fun Sunday morning.  So now’s your chance to join the 2008 team.  It should be a blast again.  I mean, I hate running more than just about anything (except eggs) and I manage to get through this 5 miles and immediately start looking forward to next year’s race.

It’s easy to join "No Runner Left Behind."  Just find one of the links I’ve conveniently dropped all over the post.  A few clicks later, you’re on the squad.  6 weeks left – better start training.

Congratulations to Two UW MBA Teams

Something must have been in the air this weekend.  Because as Barack Obama was sweeping through the caucuses, two UW MBA Teams were busy shouting "Yes We Can" as well.

Down in California, the UW VCIC Team brought pride back to the program with a win in the Regional Championship.  The team now preps for the International Competition in Chapel Hill, NC.  The UW has won this event twice, back in 2004 and of course in the "dynasty" year of 2006 :)

A mere 3000 miles away in Winston-Salem, NC, the UW won the Wake Forest Marketing Case Competition.  This was the first win for the school, after a 2nd place finish in 2006 and 3rd place in 2007. 

Aside from the pride and satisfaction these wins bring, the students also win cash, so now’s the time to hit them up for the bar tab.  But more importantly, what is now a 5th year of success in VCIC and a 3rd year at Wake Forest, proves to be real proof that a foundation for success has been effectively laid.  These aren’t "flash in the pan" single wins.  The school is now establishing constant success at these regional and national events.  And that is something the faculty, alumni, the Seattle community and current students can really take joint credit in.

Congratulations, all. 

Spring Creek Group to Give Seminar on Social Media at School of Visual Concepts

We’re still nailing down the final date, but the Spring Creek Group will be giving a "Social Media 101" seminar in early March, as part of the curriculum at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle.

The presentation will have a lot of the same components as we’ve used as a social media agency in Seattle working with our own local and national clients, and will include some real hands-on lessons.  It’s likely to be ideally suited for the small business owner or professional who wants to learn what all the fuss is about blogging, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and other social media tools.  We’ll talk about some famous victories and mistakes, some basic do’s and don’ts as well as some "rules of the game."  Then we’ll help everyone get launched.  

More details to come from both this web site and

Are You a Sports Widow?

sportswidow_sm.JPGI’m taking a few minutes to plug a new and exciting idea from two of Seattle’s best Marketing folks. Dave Sharp and Nan Hall have launched The site is focused on aspects of a "Sports Family" and profiled tonight on King 5’s Evening Magazine.

Some of the many features include the following: 

  • Sports Widow Journal & Features – Topical commentary, tips, ideas about coping/ surviving in a house full of sports fans.
  • Store – Sports Widow® Wear and Gear
  • : Pilot Radio Show – This sample 1-hour radio show features interviews with other Sports Widows, Boxer George Foreman and relationship expert Pepper Schwartz, PhD. It includes the Sports Widow Blues theme song by composer/vocalist Chris Sharp and the C. Sharp Trio (yes, she’s Sharp’s wife). song.mp3
  • Fan Fare – Recipes and entertaining ideas for sports events
  • Resources – Book, website and movie recommendations

The team will be looking for content soon. “We plan to connect with Sports Widows through interactive media, traditional media, special events, social network meet-ups and products specifically geared to them,” says Sharp. “To that end, we are searching for partners who share our vision and passion for this subject and market.” Plans to roll out Sports Widow Entertainment, include a radio talk show, syndicated columns, cartoons, greeting cards, books, video games/instructional videos, and a television show.

Movaya Wants to Make It Easy to Sell Mobile Games From Your Web Site

movaya1.jpgNew product announcement from Movaya today, as they released version 2.0 of Plug N Play, which is a technology that makes it even easier for any online merchant (or even a blog) to sell mobile games from their web site, deliver them directly to the customer’s phone, and directly charge their cell phone bill. 

While the mobile game industry is still in its early stages, all signs point to an explosion in revenues of mobile games in the coming years. The new version of Movaya’s product comes after months of research and feedback from the several hundred web sites already implementing the platform.

The entire press release is available in a Social Media form at their blog.

Check out Widget Bucks

I’m going to give a big ol’ plug to my friends over at mpire, and congratulate them on the launch of Widget Bucks.  Here’s the straight skinny from one of their promotional emails:

Are you earning $2 – $15 CPM on your current ads? Do you wish you had more control over the type of content being displayed on your site? Are CPA ads frustrating because you can’t control if a user actually does make a purchase?

After years of dealing with ad networks, we saw too many ads that sucked and networks paying too low of CPM’s to effectively monetize people’s sites, we decided to do something about it. We’re proud to announce the launch of a shopping ad network. With our widgets displaying contextual product offers in an engaging format, we’re seeing $3-6+ CPM on thousands of sites.

Today we have made our beta available for you to try it for yourself and start earning more money. Configuring the widget for your site is quick and easy and you’ll see immediate results.

I will be playing with Widget Bucks tonight here on, and we’ll also be testing it on