Tonights New Tech Meetup recap

I haven’t been to a New Tech meetup in about 3 months, and my has it grown. I’d say there were about 250 people there tonight.

The event started with a nice buzz and “hiring announcements.” About ten companies including Photobucket, Symplified, SocialThing, Mocapay, Rally, Slice of Lime, and many more announced job openings. It really seems like there are tons of companies hiring developers and designers in Boulder – more than I can remember in recent history. It’s really phenomenal. If you’re thinking of moving here and looking for a job, now is the time. If you’re a startup who’s hiring, you need to be extra creative to land the superstars. Hint: It’s not just about the money.

The first presenter tonight was Symplified, which is a stealth mode startup that helps on-demand applications to scale more effectively by providing identity and security services that scale. Contrary to the theme of the new tech meetup, Symplified didn’t really tell us anything about itself, and basically advertised itself as hiring. Companies that don’t have anything to show shouldn’t abuse the New Tech meetup, and we also shouldn’t let them. As I was writing this, appropriately, the crowd basically booed them off the stage for not sticking to the spirit of the event. Nice job, meetup folks! Nothing against Symplified, but they shouldn’t have presented tonight. More on them later, we hope. I’ll do my best to get some more info.

Next up was GalGal Systems, which is a maker of tools for the semantic web. The presenter demonstrated precisely how early stage his company was by talking through an ineffective “demo” and concluding that “Galgal systems will fill this non-need.” It’s surprising how hard it is to even convey what it is that you do in five minutes. Can you?

Just as I was about to declare this “the worst new tech meetup yet”, up came the very interesting WebPartner. Amazingly, these guys did a demo! WebPartner is a site monitoring tool capable of creating and sharing “channels” of information from sites which have information you might need, but which don’t publish data in easy to access formats such as RSS. In essence, you can set “watch points” graphically to monitor information on a certain page, and WebPartner will standardize this into easily digestible formats such as RSS. The difference here seems to be that WebPartner takes it one step further by “channelizing” the feeds that people create from these sources. Neat, but it seems like that if that’s the goal, the company could just standardize on channelizing existing RSS feeds and leveraging building block services that generate RSS from existing unstructured content such as Dapper, Page2RSS or FeedYes. Of course, that’s an impression from a 5 minute demo having not done any looking in-depth at this company, so take it for what it’s worth.

We had a nice guest visit by Mike Locatis, who is the State of Colorado CIO. Mike just came to be supportive of the innovation happening and the people in the room making it happen. He talked briefly about the plan to improve the states IT infrastructure, and answered a few questions from the audience. Brad Feld, who is the Chair of the Governer’s Innovation Council also talked briefly about some of what the group is up to.

Next, Camberley Bates (who I coincidentally met for the first time earlier today) of Bates Strategy Group come to chat with us about “Messaging and Positioning 101.” We usually don’t get “off tech” topics at the new tech meetup, and I liked the change of pace. However, I could sense that half the room started checking email as soon as “marketing” was mentioned for the first time. When polled, 80% of the audience raised their hand that this type of “off-topic” session once in a while was “useful.”

Finally, we got to check out eSwarm, which is a site that lets users get together online to buy items. Basically, this lets users aggregate demand in order to buy items for less. They reported that the biggest swarm ever was for ammunition! In the spirit of all great startups, the eSwarm guys answered questions about the “average” by saying that it varies on a case-by-case basis, and tossed T-shirts into the crowd. Micah said he felt like he was at a Nuggets game. Simply awesome!

Finally, finally (this was a long meetup) we heard some interesting deep-tech info about real experiences with the Google Web Toolkit.

As always, many thanks to Robert Reich of Me.dium for organizing the group and the event and CU for hosting and supporting this. It’s a great event for networking, and often we get to see and discuss some fun topics in a quick-fire format.

Get your ass to the next new tech meetup and hang with the cool kids.

file under: Blog, Startups