Building A Web Business After Hours
Mar 18 2009

SXSW Interactive 2009 is now over and what a grand event it was!  It was a nice break from my day to day routine.   I had a few late nights but not later than just after midnight one night and most other nights I was home by 10:30 pm and one night I was even home by 7:30 pm.  I met up with so many cool people…people I already knew in person and people I had met online.   As many of you know I work at the Austin Technology Incubator by day and work on Babble Soft whenever I can (i.e., After Hours).  ATI helped coordinate and sponsor a nightly party called the Entrepreneur Lounge at Fogo de Chao (a Brazilian restaurant) which was a great success.

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The panel was extremely well attended and I’d say about 85% of the people in the room were working on a business after hours and 10% were thinking about it.  It was a perfect and very engaged audience!

I had been hearing that the panels at SXSW overall had not been going well.  I experienced a few myself, but I and others kept hearing they weren’t organized, inexperienced people were either running them or on the panels, and people weren’t getting much out of them.  Based on that grapevine talk, I decided to adapt and get a little more formal than we had planned to be.  We originally were not planning on having a PowerPoint presentation but literally hours before the panel, I asked Jeremy Bencken to meet me and we pulled together on his cute and really small laptop a brief presentation as simple as putting our names, jobs, information and key takeaways on separate slides.  As simple as they were, it helped us frame the discussion.  We also decided on some opening questions and remarks as a team while we waited in the “Green Room” before the panel started.

I was a bit anxious beforehand because it’s been quite some time since I’ve spoken to a room of 150+ so I was out of practice but after a few minutes it came back to me.  It’s an amazing and surreal experience to have so many people looking at you to impart knowledge and share your stories with them.  The panelists did an awesome job of describing the ups and downs of doing a business after hours.

Here is a copy of the content on our basic slides:

Aruni Gunasegaram – moderator
Day Job: Operations Director, Austin Technology Incubator
After Hours: Pres/Founder, Babble Soft, LLC
Company Blog:  Babble Soft Blog
Twitter: @aruni

David Altounian
Day Job: Co-founder/CEO, Motion Computing
After Hours: Co-founder, iTaggit
Twitter: @daltounian

Jeremy Bencken
Day Job: Co-founder/GM,
After Hours: Chairman, BuzzStream
Twitter: @jeb512

Elisa Camahort-Page
Former Day Job: 2005-2006: Worker Bees
After Hours: Co-founder/COO, BlogHer Inc
Twitter: @elisac

Gretchen Heber
Former Day Job: Journalist, Austin American-Statesman
After Hours: Co-founder,
Twitter: @natcurl

7 Takeaways

  • Protect your IP from your day job
  • 8pm to midnight is a beautiful thing
  • Don’t beat yourself up
  • Set expectations with your family/friends
  • It works for some but not all niches
  • Partners rock; get one
  • Use care in raising external funding
Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship | Tags: , , | 6 Comments »

6 Comments on “Building A Web Business After Hours”

  1. 1 Nicole said at 7:05 AM on March 19th, 2009:

    Congratulations on the panel going well! I wish I could have been there. Maybe next year. ;-)

    Nicoles last blog post..10 Newborn Baby Sleep Tips

  2. 2 thom singer said at 1:46 PM on March 19th, 2009:


    I was in the audience… you and your fellow panelists did a GREAT job. It was the best run panel I attended and the information was useful. I especially liked that panelists had different thoughts on the topics, which meant it was not a “me too” panel where they all gave the same information.

    Your efforts to organize a good show paid off.


  3. 3 Aruni said at 6:27 PM on March 19th, 2009:

    @Nicole – yes maybe next year! Hopefully we’ll meet before then. :-)

    @Thom – I was so glad to see you in the audience. It’s always great to see a friendly face to gauge how everything is going! Thanks again for coming.

  4. 4 Eric Doggett said at 7:48 PM on March 19th, 2009:

    Wish I could have been there! I am glad it went well for you, and I totally agree on the ’8pm to midnight’ comment!

    Eric Doggetts last blog post..The Germans Make Good Stuff

  5. 5 Aruni said at 11:16 AM on March 22nd, 2009:

    @Eric – Thanks. Sorry I missed you outside the AllTop party. :-)

  6. 6 Connecting The Dots | entrepreMusings said at 6:01 PM on May 21st, 2009:

    [...] am tired from burning the candle at both ends as they say.  The whole Building A Web Business After Hours is taking it’s toll.  I’m home sick today just feeling worn out with a scratchy [...]