It’s been ten days since our first OpenCoffee Club and I’ve already had several follow up meetings with some of the attendees and one in particular - Tory Gattis (www.houstonstrategies.com) who earlier this month launched www.openteams.com that builds structured wiki’s for corporations. OpenCoffee Club once again proved to me that the Houston technology startup scene is very vibrant. Two other companies that I know, www.berggi.com and www.opmom.com have made their public launches within the last week or so. I’m also eagerly awaiting Richard Yoo’s (www.richardyoo.com/blog/) new company codenamed www.hushlabs.com coming out of stealth mode soon. My belief is that for every startup I know or hear about, there are three that are being worked on in complete isolation. I’m hoping that I can foster a relationship with Kurt Stoll at www.startuphouston.com to help get some of those companies out into the open where they can grow.
May 16, 2007
May 6, 2007
Thanks to the over 40 people that showed up, the inaugural Houston OpenCoffee Club was a resounding success. We had several Angel Investors, bona fide Venture Capitalists, business consultants and most importantly - entrepreneurs discussing various aspects of the startup life cycle. With no formal agenda, the conversations that I overheard ranged from “we’re looking for $X equity capital” to “We need a lawyer” to “I have this idea” - all met with enthusiastic repsonses and an exchange of business cards with the promise of further follow up. This was precisely the goal of OpenCoffee Club and to that end I think that there is demand for a second edition.
One thing that I was particularly pleased about the attendees were the handful of people there that I did not know who learned about the event second or third hand from the original emails I sent out two weeks prior. The fact that the idea became viral so quickly demonstrates that there is a pent up need for this kind of organization. I am very happy that I could help facilitate the event, although I can not take the credit for making it as big a hit as it was.
Special Thanks go to Saul Klein in London for coming up and executing the original idea, Jason Mendelson in Boulder for walking me through what to expect (he was remarkably accurate after his first two in Colorado), Robert Brackenridge of the Houston Technology Center for promoting it to the people he thought would get the most out of it and of course to business leaders and my personal friends and associates: Paul Campbell, Andrew Clark, Richard Scruggs, Jeff Williams, Leo Womack.
About mid-way through the event, roughly 30 people still going strong
Another shot of the crowd
Tony Huang, founder of www.techxans.com Speaking with Robert Brackenridge
Reid Pennebaker of RPVentures
Billy Buchsbaum of 1790 Capital
Russell Holliman, Founder of www.podcastready.com and Robert Brackenridge
Jeff Willams of Mainspring Capital Partners speaking with Co-Founders of MindOH.com
May 2, 2007
I’ve come to realize that I haven’t posted in months, but leave it to the always brilliant Paul Graham to pull me out of semi-retirement. Not that I always agree with him. His latest post is about how angel investors are the seeds that create startup hubs is absolutely spot on. The fact that entrepreneurs are the likeliest sources of angel funding for new ventures, proves the old addage, “Success breeds Success”. The real issue that most budding start up companies have in terms of funding is where to find these sources.
I’ve spent a significant amount of my time getting involved with various organizations around Houston that helped foster the local start up community. In my recent internet travels (e.g. blog reading), I discovered an idea that I think has the best chance of putting entrepreneurs with early stage investors in a casual setting called OpenCoffeeClub. In a word, it’s a meetup - an informal time and location for like-minded people to get together. It was founded in London by Saul Klein and recently brought to our shores by Jason Mendelson and Brad Feld in Boulder who run an outstanding blog called AsktheVC among other things like running an early stage VC firm. These guys clearly “get it”. They have realized that social aspects of finding and funding companies (especially Web 2.0 companies) are an important factor in the new landscape of internet companies.
Based on their good example, I’m initiating OpenCoffee Club Houston at 8am on Friday May 4 2007 at CoCo’s Crepes and Coffee near the Houston Technology Center. I think that we’ll have a decent turnout and I’m very curious about the crowd that it attracts. I hope to make this a recurring event as I think that it will increase both investor education for startups and dealflow for investors over time. This will be sort of a standing mini-unconference in that the agenda will be set by the attendees at that time.
Wish us luck and pictures and a debrief to follow.