The night started with some casual networking. Kevin Koym our conversational host for the night told everyone this was not a sit-down event. That we needed to get off our butt and stop talking to the people we came in with. We were all there to meet people. I thought it was a great thing to say – really set the mood. Kevin knows what he’s doing, he’s held these kind of townhalls all over the place (Chile, Mexico… Kevin, correct me?). We also watched a clip from A Beautiful Mind, this one where John Nash (Russell Crowe) declares The “best result comes from everyone in the group doing what’s best for himself. Incomplete. Incomplete. Because the best result will come when everyone in the group doing what’s best for himself and the group.”
After a quick intro to the agenda of the night’s events we broke into groups of 3. Each person answered 3 questions: Why did you come here? What challenges are you facing in your business? Who are you? In my group was Jon Lebkowsky (more on Jon in wikipedia) and a nice guy named David? who was not yet an entrepreneur, is working on finding his passion in life, and doesn’t let his kids on the internet.
Then the discussion started. We were in a half-circle auditorium, the one at IC2 if you are familiar. Kevin seeded the discussion. He wanted to know, what can we do together? Where can we take Austin?
The conversation for some reason stayed on social media for quite some time – we can we all use it to efficiently make more meaningful connections. There was a lot of talk regarding the Digital Convergence Initiative, who’s goal is “To create an economic super cluster through the growth of the Digital Convergence business and research base of the Central Texas corridor from Waco through Austin to San Antonio and the surrounding and included communities.”
To further develop Austin as a hub for innovation I posed a couple things: There must be free flow of information (who’s working on what, etc), we must eliminate good ol’ boy networks, and use the internet to do this efficiently. This is what DCI is doing for businesses and this is what our co-company, Conjunctured is working on for the individual entrepreneur.
Of course the comparison came up between our Silicon Hills and Silicon Valley. Jonathan McCoy, one of Austin’s youngest serial entrepreneurs was called out because he’s leaving for San Francisco soon. Granted he has a good reason – he’s working on semantic web applications and the only place in the world for that is a little district in The Valley some are calling Sema.
hmm… If we believe that innovation comes from collaboration and collaboration can only happen when people know what the other individuals/companies are up to – I think the bay area benefits from such an extensive blog network – thus resulting in everyone knowing everyone else’s business AND everyone benefiting for a peer review, scrutiny. We need to work on a way to facilitate communication in Austin – these townhalls are a great way to do that, same with Rise Austin.
There is so much to say on the conversations that were had, I’m going to cut this off know because I’m way over my 20min time limit. Pretty soon we’ll have a video of the night that I will post here. Until then, here is a purposefully lame video by Saatchi and Saatchi (thanks Dave for this).
Join the Entrepreneur Townhall Google Group if you’d like to attend the next one – sometime after south-by.