Steers, queers and peers

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I love South by South West, it is a fantastic opportunity to connect with people. They might be old friends, friends of friends, new acquaintances, famous people, people you follow on Twitter, somebody that presented a session, or just a random badge wearer you meet in the hall at the bar, etc. But simply put, it’s an opportunity to connect with people.

Sessions. Panels. Hallways. Breakfasts. Lunches. Dinners. Parties. It’s all an opportunity to connect. It’s an smorgasbord of people from Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Austin, Lubbock, etc. Everybody gathered in Austin, Texas for a festival built around music, film and the technology that makes it happen. You can see the explosion of connections and the evolution of the tools. There’s Twitter, FourSquare, Facebook, imeem, the list goes on and on. The tools are making it easier to connect at the event and stay connected after.

The best part of all it is, you get to go home. Bring the vibes, the connections, the tools, the business, all of it, you get to bring it home.

Brave New World

I’m stoked about what is going on in Toronto and Canada. I’m excited about what is just about to emerge. We’re coming out of our cocoons. We’re finally starting to realize that for it to be a start-up, it must be a business. It was great to see Canadian companies like Freshbooks, Overlay.tv, Raincity Studios, Akoha, iStockPhoto, Thornley Fallis PR, PostRank and Social Media Group. They were all in Austin looking for new clients. This was a marketing event.

“The business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rests are costs.” – Peter Drucker

The good news is that there is room for traditional marketing and the new scary social media marketing. Tradeshow booths, bag swag, and parties co-exist with presenting, participating and engaging with people online and off. Love seeing these people, my friends and acquaintances, and their companies out building their brands. Marketing to the unwashed masses (like me). Then back home to keep on innovating.

And that is the key. These are companies that are building innovating solutions. They are attending conferences like SxSW to build their brands, make people aware of the crazy cool shit they do back at home. It might seem like it’s all bourbon, late nights, and hangovers. But for almost everyone, it’s about being real people with real lives, real companies, real products, real jobs, and the very real need to make money. But it is the conversations and the participation that matters.

What did you bring home?

Let’s home it’s not the dreaded SxSWi sickness.

  1. Pay attention to your customers. It’s not mine, borrowed from Tony Hsieh from Zappos. But it starts to define what you as a startup are doing. What problem you’re innovating around? Who pays you for what? Where are they having conversations? Can you find them to engage with them?
  2. Diversity is critical. “Much of what we think of as innovation is just the creative tension between differing viewpoints”. The diversity of people, venues, presentation formats, art, engineering, media, film, venture, and rock-and-roll create a wonderful tension and we need to continue to embrace this tension.
  3. It’s a great time. It is a tough for a lot of people, but the investment world is driven by greed, not fear. Find the thing that your customers desire, the thing that enables their greed.
  4. It’s about the people and the connections. Spend some time in the weeks following up with the folks you met. Turns out you might meet them next year. /me waves from Canada.
  5. Even with all the social media, crap is still crap. Build something that matters. Make it count for your customers. This is where the innovation is key. You need to be faster, cheaper, better than your competition. And trust me you have competition. You can meet them at SxSW.
  6. Take more pictures. I have 2 cameras, 2 smart phones with cameras, I was thinking about buying a Flip. But I don’t think it matters, until I get into the habit of snapping pictures. #FAIL on my part. Time to change personal information capture habits. Feeling like this is going to be painful.

CUTC – where the future goes!

cutc2009 CUTC abbr. Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference. [que-te-see]

  1. Happening in Toronto on March 12-13, 2009 at the Toronto Hilton.
  2. CUTC is the biggest and most defining platform for students to meet and learn from experienced industry and academic professionals.

I haven’t been to a CUTC yet. Unfortunately, I won’t get to go this year. It’s happening the same time as SxSWi and I’ll be back in Austin. Looks like a great event for Canadian undergraduate students (sponsored by Rypple and Infusion Development). The conference schedule includes:

  • TechPanels – open panel discussions between 2-4 industry representatives on cloud computing, mobile communications and next-generation consoles.
  • TechShops – Interactive workshops with hands-on tinkering. Play with Eclipse, Maya and other tools.
  • TechTours – Go see where the magic happens. Picture desks and monitors 😉 I actually love lab and studio tours. Seeing others workspace is inspiring and can help you determine if you want to work there.
  • TechTeam – Divide into groups with students and industry pros to build upon an idea and present a feasible solution. Awesome, you get to see how people at different companies think about rapid problem solving.
  • TechShow – I think this is presentations, entertainment and inspiration. It’s a show. It’s designed to facilitate conversation.
  • TechExpo – think tradeshow. You get to see what’s going on in the industry. Push it. Poke it. Prod it.

In case you missed it, it’s about Tech!Looks like a great conference. Just hoping that they publish a schedule sooner rather than later.

2009 Canadian TMT Predictions

tmtpredictions2009

Deloitte has made their Technology Media and Telecom Predictions for 2009. The session was streamed on UStream.tv. The photostream is up on Flickr. You can find feedback on Twitter. The predictions aren’t really all that insightful, they don’t prescribe any solution or advice for companies whether they be large, medium or small. It’s a very good job summarizing the weak signals and trends from 2008 moving into 2009.

The most interesting commentary (other than Simon Avery inappropriately calling for the demise of the National Post before 2010) was during recessions that larger companies look strongly at ROI (Return on Investment) and that because of zero-based budgeting that companies are looking at spending $0 on innovation and research. Given the history of big companies failing on their investment on innovation, there is a huge need to change innovation by building a culture of execution, aka, getting shit done. And for startups where the investment in the right thing is even more important.  

  1. Make every electron count: the rise of the SmartGrid – Transforming our electrical network to be as smart as our telecommunications network.
  2. Disrupting the PC: the rise of the netbook – They’re cheap, they’re small, they’re cute…did we mention they’re cheap.
  3. Downsizing the digital attic: when infinite storage is a bad thing – Don’t hit that save key…when cheap storage ain’t so cheap
  4. Social networks in the enterprise: Facebook for the Fortune – Enterprise 2.0 is affordable and no training wheels are required
  5. Putting print out of peril may require stopping the pressess – 4 sale: 1 major city nwspaper – $20 obo (or best offer)
  6. Rising stars take on the megastars: Indie is the new mainstream – Be like Feist: 1, 2, 3, 4…smaller acts pack the floor
  7. The dawn of WIFI radio: 10,000 radio stations in your pocket – It lets you listen while you travel, but knows where you are.
  8. Mobile advertising finds its meaning: cell phone ads are the new billboards – Monetizing the screen you look at 50 times a day.
  9. Smart phones: how to say clever in a downturn – It’s not dumb to pay a premium for a smart phone.
  10. Digital communication loses its message: no email Fridays – When a productivity tool starts impairing productivity.
  11. The mobile broadband accident in slow motion: traffic jams on cellular networks – Netbooks and smartphone are chewing up bandwidth.
  12. One for all and all for one: no more redundant fibre optic network – Sharing the cost of fibre means more speed sooner.
  13. The browser becomes the operating system: changing of the guard? – Better living through better browsers.

The reports are available for perusal: