Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Here's Brandon Wiley welcoming everyone to StartupCampAustin. Agenda here.
In the first session in the Quadrangle room, the tables were arranged facing the podium but there was no speaker because sessions were topic-driven, not speaker-driven. We decided to scrap our expectations from previous barcamps and we rearranged the tables in a circle, campfire-style.
This first session was on scaling. A facilitator was chosen and we were off! But something wasn't quite right with the topic. The topic seemed somehow inappropriate (even though we voted for it), maybe because of the many different circumstances that scaling refers to or maybe something else. By the end of the session, there seemed to be a rough consensus that a startup generally shouldn't be wasting time thinking about scaling their technology solution. It seems that often times scalability problems result from failing to practice the principle of subsidiary function. "But we're too big to fail!"
The next session I attended was the cooperative solution. For me, this was the most educational. Donald Jackson facilitated this one. The main contentious claim by a few participants was that, sure, a cooperative might be good for some things (outdoor sports equipment, credit unions, food, etc), but worker-owned cooperatives are not a good solution for a technology outfit. My response to this was that, although a collective might not deliver growth associated with well-known powerhouses like Google, there seem to be several advantages for independent freelancers to form a small collective. Often times, a cooperative can provide better service to customers with better availability and skill sets than one person can provide. How would a cooperative be any better than an S-Corp, LLC, etc?
Speaking of which, the last session I attended was on the well-known business entities. Scott Allen advised that sometimes an entity is not the right path as a contract arrangement for joint work may be a lot simpler. Scott, Joshua McClure and Jennifer Navarrete and others shared lots of great advice. The campfire style was perfect for this topic.
At the end, people were invited to give 3 minute pitches of their products. This was a great idea because I've seen 30 minute pitches suck the life out of barcamps. The pitches were fun this way.
Brandon and Joey Lopez did a great job un-organizing startup camp. At the end, several people expressed the desire to have startup camps once every 3 or 4 months.