MeshU – It’s worth the price of admission

MeshU, May 17, 2010It’s time again for MeshU. I wrote about why startups should consider attending MeshU over on StartupNorth. This is a great opportunity to learn and connect.

Learning

There are a lot of smart, talented, successful and engaging people at MeshU. You want my list of who I can’t wait to see:

  1. Bill Buxton
    Bill is a colleague of mine at Microsoft. He also had a profound influence on my career. I was training to be an academic. I wanted to do research like my idols (including Bill Buxton), but Bill’s session at CHI’97 in Atlanta is where he espoused that we’re all designers. We’re all designing and building and shipping software that people use. Imagine that. He is an exciting, engaging speaker that any startup, executive, designer, developer should listen to.
  2. Sean Ellis
    The #leanstartup thing has become a movement. Whether you’re lean or you’re fat, you there’s something to learn about product development and marketing from the guy that brought Xobni, EventBrite and Dropbox to market. I think every startup and every marketer needs to at least listen to what Sean Ellis is saying.
  3. Aza Raskin
    I’ve never met Aza, but he works with 4 people that I think are top notch at Mozilla (I’m looking at you Beltzner, Shaver, Lilly and Surman). I’ve written about his work at Humanized, I used his product Enso as my launcher in Vista. And one of my close friends actually worked on the Canon Cat with Aza’s father, Jef. Aza is the creative lead for Firefox. If you were looking to learn from someone that is helping to build the fabric of every web experience (well technically 24.69% of all web experiences ;-), there’s a good chance that Aza will teach you something.
  4. Diana Clarke
    Diana is a developer rockstar. She’s moving the entire backend at Freshbooks from PHP to Python. This is a crazy project. Switching languages in real-time with the application still running. This is like performing a heart transplant with the patient still conscious. You can learn something about engineering complex systems from Diana.
  5. Dan Martell
    Profitable in 2 months at Flowtown, that’s crazy. Hopefully that includes founder salaries. But you get to hear from the trenches about building a startup using customer development. You’ll learn about “customer development, feature prioritization, split testing, product metrics and agile development as approaches to increase your probabilities of succeeding”.
  6. Joe Stump
    Geolocation infrastructure startup with “the” set of investors (Ron Conway, First Round Capital, Chris Sacca, Kevin Rose, Tim Ferriss, Shawn Fanning people). He was the lead architect at Digg. So if you don’t think you can learn something from the guy who built the infrastructure that created the tsunami that spawns “The Digg Effect“. Then forget about scalable architectures and ask him about raising money.

And this is only 6 of the 13 speakers. There are world class people coming to Toronto. Hopefully everyone from Montreal to Waterloo realizes that this a big deal. The speakers are of the calibre that you’ll find at a conference in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, New York , Austin, Vegas, where ever.

Connecting

MaRS only hold 400 attendees. This is an incredibly small conference venue. If you’re smart, lucky, outgoing without being douchey, you have a pretty good chance of meeting the speakers and other attendees that are pretty awesome.

The thing to remember is that a chance meeting at a conference with any of these individuals isn’t going to change the course of our startups. You’re looking to make some initial connections. I feel like I tell a lot of entrepreneurs that you don’t have to get everything about your startup on the table in 30 seconds. None of these people have the power to change your life in 30 seconds. It’s like dating, as much as you want to “hop on the good foot and do the bad thing”, it does require a little bit of conversation. (If you really need instant gratification, there are a lot of consultants/charlatans/snakeoil salesmen that will take your money and tell you that if you do these 3 things you’ll be more awesome). 

Events like MeshU aren’t tradeshows. You’re not likely to find customers. You’re not going to find booth candy. You’re probably not going to find an investor (though if I was a Canadian angel or early-stage investor I’d be there just to meet the entrepreneurs and maybe learn something to help my portfolio). You’re there to meet potential hires, other entrepreneurs that you can share war stories and lessons. The whole point of an ecosystem is to enable the exchange of value. The value can only be exchanged between connected nodes in the network. The ecosystem gets strong and more valuable the more connections we build.  

My advice is to start thinking about the connections and the learnings that will justify the price. Then go register for MeshU.

I’ll see you there.

meshU schedule

meshu I’m a big fan of meshU. I was lucky enough to speak last year. Mike McDerment has announce the initial meshU schedule today. Perhaps a little Rails focused on the development side (AideRSS, Unspace and Engine Yard – even 37signals on the design side), this might be a result of FreshBooks using Rails for part of their infrastructure. I hope that Michael and the team will consider expanding the technologies to include things like PHP and Drupal, jQuery, other MVC frameworks, other mobile & rich client development environments, configuring your development environment.

The initial schedule looks great for designers and developers. It’s hands-on practical exposure to leading Web 2.0 technologies, techniques and patterns. meshU is a bargain, it’s $289 to attend ($25 for a limited number of student tickets). It fits right into a similar spot that TechDays filled for developers on the Microsoft stack. Way less expensive than Mix, PDC or Web2Expo particularly when you remove the travel costs. I love seeing world-class talent and conversation happening in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver (yes, I know that meshU is only in Toronto – for now).

Design

Development

Management

What: meshU
Registration: $289 – Limited number of student tickets at $25
When: Monday, April 6, 2009 (all day)
Where: MaRs Discovery District Auditorium

Toronto, Ontario

MeshU – How to Demo like a Demon

Leila and I are all done our presentation for MeshU. Unfortunately, we have a major FAIL for knock’em down TinEye demo, Leila and I just failed to manage the demo machine and the screen resolution. Not the best example. The basic take aways are pretty simple. Demoing is about telling a story to excite the audience about your company, solution, product. Very simply put demoing is about software. Tell me the problem you are solving then show me the damn software.

  1. What problem are you solving?
  2. Why do users want it?
  3. Remember to slow down and breathe.

We did not cover the differences between demos and pitches. A demo is not a pitch. A pitch may contain a demo. Let’s be honest, we’re all here to see the problem and how your software solves it. Once you’ve captured the attention of individuals, the conversation will naturally flow into details about the company, the team, the development environment, etc.

Many thanks to Ryan Feeley for the visual refresh.

Resources

Presentations

Pitching

Demoing

Example Demos

Business Plan

How to Demo like a Demon

David Crow + Leila Boujnane W00t! Leila and I are part of the MeshU schedule. We are co-presenting a session titled “How to Demo Like a Demon“. The original title was Raise Money, Win Friends and Get Laid (aka How to Demo and Pitch for Fun and Profit). The idea, we need to teach entrepreneurs how to present and communicate their ideas. We’re really trying to help improve the quality of pitches, demos and presentations.

Raise Money, Win Friends and Get Laid  (aka How to Demo and Pitch for Fun and Profit)
Co-presented with Leila Boujnane, Idee, Inc.
Boring! Get off the stage!
How many times have you wished you could say this to a presenter at a conference? Or a demoer at DemoCamp? This workshop will help developers understand that doing demos is a marketing task because it generates demand for the software.
Technologists and designers need to be able to create demand for their ideas. They need to be able to tell compelling stories that convince audiences that there is ‘wow’ in what they are doing. Successful demoers are more likely to raise money, have friends, and get laid.

I’ve talked about my awe of the MeshU line up previously, and now that the line up includes me, no serious, the rest of the lineup is fantastic. The rest of the MeshU lineup includes a fantastic program. If you’re looking for a meaningful conference in Toronto, MeshU is only $239.

MeshU looks awesome!

Yes, I know that I’m technically responsible for the Microsoft Canada sponsorship of MeshU, but the lineup hadn’t been announced when we made the decision to find the sponsorship dollars. With great presenters like Avi Bryant, who gave one of my favourite DemoCamp presentations at DemoCampToronto5, will be presenting. If you haven’t seen the DabbleDB 8 Minute Demo I strongly recommend checking it out.

To top it off, MeshU registration is only $239 and in Toronto.