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Quit trying to make the next Silicon Valley

Dear Reader,

I saw another story this morning. This time it was London trying to be the next Silicon Valley. They always have a new variation on the name those, this one was Silicon Roundabout. I know you’ve seen these articles, they explain why [INSERT CITY HERE] is prime to be the next technology hotbed and repeat the success of San Francisco – San Jose.

Stop! We don’t need another Silicon Valley. What we need is something new. If all you can do is mimic what others are doing then are you really adding anything to the world? We don’t need another Silicon Valley, we don’t need another Facebook, what we need is for someone to create something totally new.

Nashville is a focal point for creative people. We have a strong Music and Publishing industry here and each year more and more creative people make Nashville their home. We’ve also got a burgeoning technology startup community. it’s not huge yet but a lot of people in and outside of Nashville see potential. Our goal should not, however, be to create the next Silicon Valley. (Or the next Austin or god forbid, the next Atlanta) We are unique in the world and we need to nurture and grow our special community. Here in Nashville, we combine technology, content and creativity. Let’s find our own identity.

Let’s let other cities try to create the next Nashville!

Until next time,
I <3 |<
=C=

Entreprenurial Update

Dear Reader,

I really need a better name for these updates. :)

Ok, so last week was my “stay-cation” Originally, Kathy and I had plans but those had to be put on hold so I had a week here at the house. This should have given me plenty of time to get things done. I really need to look at my interruptions because I accomplished a lot less than I wanted to.

I did knock one concrete thing off my list though, I got PHPLists installed to manage my house list until it grows large enough to move it to a service. If you are curious, my favorite mailing service is right here in Nashville and even thought they passed on hiring the lovely and talented Kathy, I’ll probably still use Emma.
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Tales of Entreprenureship

Dear Reader,

I am embarking on a new journey that scares the crap out of me. Those that know me know that I always have a lot of ideas floating around in my head. My problem has never been lack of ideas, my problem has always been execution. I’m an awesome idea man but I really suck at making them happen. Honestly, in all my years, I’ve only successfully executed one business idea. (and it worked pretty dang good)

So today I’m jumping out of my comfort zone and I’m going to drag you along for the ride. Just so you know, this blog post and the others that follow it are not about pimping my idea, they are about the struggles I face trying to make the idea into a reality. If you are not into watching someone inflict pain on themselves, this series is probably not going to be of interest to you. However, if you are an entrepreneur, or like me a “wanna be”, follow along and by all means, comment!

“Ideas are a dime a dozen. The money is in the execution.”

One of my friends I’ve never met, Kyle Chowning posted on his blog back in February a post titled “Quit Being Stingy & Give Your Ideas Away”. In it he talked about Seth Godwin’s “Six Month MBA program. One of the off-shoots of that program was that the participants posted 999 idea that they had for new businesses. The concept was simple, if you like one of the ideas, take it and do it. You don’t make money from ideas, you make money from making ideas into a business.

Kyle took that to heart and has a page on his blog dedicated to his “Free Ideas“. I may have to start me a page like that, but that’s a project for another day. After rolling this around in my head for a month it really started to sink in, nobody cares how great your ideas are, people want to see you do something.

No, seriously—that’s all it takes.

Back in December a friend of mine that I have met, Keith Casey, wrote for the PHP Advent Calendar 2008. His post was titled “Getting Started the Right Way“. It really started me thinking, if it’s so easy to get a project started, why haven’t I been able to do it. I’ve read his post more than 10 times now to reinforce the message, find the first step, one that you can do yourself, without help from anyone else, and do it.

I looking at my history of ideas, doing is not my problem, it’s figuring out what to do.

Ok, so if ideas are cheap and plentiful but action is rare and valuable, I’m going to take the first step. I’ve started a new venture. (No, I’m not leaving Ibuildings till they toss me out) This is not a “part time” venture either though; it’s a serious endeavor to build something that adds value to the lives of others as well as myself.

I can’t talk about the venture without mentioning the name and it’s stupid not to give a link if I do that. The new project is called Box Lunch Training, there is a logo over on the left sidebar. The idea is simple, provide team based training for PHP development teams. The execution is turning out to be a bit more difficult. :)

My First Step

My first step was to write a business plan. Being a “cowboy coder” I usually skip the planning phase of any coding project and just start coding, so writing a business plan kinda went against the grain for me. However, I knew that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to see the next steps. So I wrote my business plan.

Writing it naturally let me to my next step, actually creating a product. Since the training is episodic, I wrote the first two episodes. Originally, my thought was that after an episode, I would know what it will take to write others. Writing the first episode was eye-opening, writing the second was so much more difficult that it almost convinced me the idea wasn’t viable. However, after I finished it and assessed everything, I think I’m back on track.

I have to adjust my expectations a bit; writing training isn’t as easy as sitting down and writing an opinionated blog post. (For some reason, people want training to be accurate) :) So there is a LOT of research that goes into an episode. I was prepared for research but not to the extent I am doing.

The upside is I’m researching PHP so it’s fun. :)

My Next Step

I think my next step will be to get 2 more episodes under my belt. The lovely and talented Kathy is working on building out a web site for the project and we are shooting for a July 1 launch. I want to keep about 4 episodes in the can at all times in case of emergencies. That is a lesson I learned from podcasting, never wait until the week the episode is due to create it.

Future steps

As I see them at the moment these are the things I need to do.

  • Build out website
  • Start contacting likely affiliates
  • Finish the first four episodes
  • Refine and prioritize the list of topics. (I’ve got a list of about 60 episode topics that I need to prioritize.)
  • Find a way to sell the idea to businesses. This is really my weak point, I can code, manage and build but for the life of me, I can’t sell. I’m really hoping that I can attract a few top-notch affiliate sites and outsource the selling to them. (I’m open to other ideas if you have them)

More to come

This blog post and the others that will follow are more for my sake than anything else. I do encourage you to comment if you’ve got something to say that will help. Mainly though, I just need a place to gather my thoughts.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)

=C=