Building A Web Business After Hours
Aug 14 2008

Earlier this year, I had such a great time at SXSW Interactive 2008, that I submitted a panel idea for SXSW Interactive 2009 called Building A Web Business After Hours and more people than I thought are interested in seeing it happen! 

Panel Description: Many businesses are built after-hours or during odd hours of the day and night. Join us for a panel discussion by entrepreneurs who built (or are building) their Web/E-commerce/Other business while holding a day job, multiple jobs, or who are currently balancing two+ career options. 

For those of you who don’t know, I am attempting to build a web business (Babble Soft) after hours and lets just say it has it’s ups and downs but mostly it’s really hard and challenging with a big upside bejng that in my day job I get to be around other entrepreneurs.

How many of you (or people you know) are building sites and businesses in their spare time (on the side)?  What kind of businesses are they?  Many great businesses start with tinkering on the side…

I’ve started to assemble a great group of panelists including: 

  • One of the co-founders of BlogHer, the top female blogging site in the world that has partnerships and customer relationships with some of the top recognized brands in the world!  Elisa Camahort Page, a co-founder, awesomely mentioned my panel in her Time to vote for SXSW panels post.  Check out Elisa’s post to see the other great panels she’s recommending.
     
  • Thom Singer is the director of business development for Austin based vcfo.  Additionally he is the author of four books about the power of business relationships and is a professional speaker.  With the support of his employer, he successfully manages his job and his own business, speaking to companies around the country on how to network.  He blogs at Some Assembly Required.  

 

  • Karen Bantuveris, Austin founder & CEO of VolunteerSpot, knows firsthand what ‘juggle’ means.  She’s built VolunteerSpot from the ground up while running a successful management development and executive coaching business, and being active in her daughter’s school PTO Board and Scout troop.  She even manages to sleep, occasionally.�
     
  • Jeremy Bencken, co-founder of ApartmentRatings.com, Tenant Market, and PR for Pirates.  Jeremy and his wife, Katie, founded ApartmentRatings.com in 2000 out of their one bedroom apartment in Mountain View.  They bootstrapped the site while attending business school at UT-Austin and then during full-time jobs for 4 years before selling the company to Internet Brands in 2007.  Along the way they grew traffic to over 12M unique visitors per year (without an ad budget), built a base of advertisers, fought off frivolous lawsuits, and got their site featured on NPR Marketplace, and in stories in the NY Times and AP.

 

  • Gretchen Heber is CEO and co-founder of NaturallyCurly.com, a multi-dimensional company for people with curly hair she founded with business partner Michelle Breyer. She and Michelle founded NaturallyCurly while holding full time jobs as a journalist for the Austin daily newspaper.  NaturallyCurly.com is an online magazine, social network and shopping boutique dedicated to curlyheads. The site came about, in part, because of Heber’s having been told as a child: “It looks like you combed your hair with a stick!” among other beauties. She is married, has three boys, and resides in South Austin. She is active in her neighborhood association and not much else because she’s an entrepreneur and has three young boys, and goodness, who has time!?
     

Please, please, please go vote for the panel by clicking on this link: Building A Web Business After Hours.  I believe 30% of the weight on whether a panel is chosen is from people like you voting.  The only downside is that you have to create a log in, but the upside is that you will be in the SXSW system and see all the other cool panels going on and vote for many more! 

Thanks and I look forward to seeing some of you at SXSW next year. 8)

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, conferences, entrepreneurship, FYI | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

SXSW Interactive – Sunday, March 9, 2008
Mar 9 2008

Although I’ve lived in Austin for quite some time, I have never made it to SXSW but now since a big part of what I do for my company is social media related, I finally had a great reason to go.  Most people associate SXSW with music, film making, bands, and people partying all night long.  For those visiting from out of town and attending the music pieces of SXSW that might be true, but for those of us attending SXSW Interactive who live in town and have kids to take care of, we aren’t able to party (or should I say not interested in partying) all night long.  Although tonight I was tempted to stay out late after having been asked by a couple of people to join some after parties.  But since I just got back from Los Angeles, I figured I should get home and give my husband a little back-up break with the kids.  Here are some brief overviews of the sessions I attend.

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of facebook
sxsw-zuckerberg.jpg

Mark who is a 23 year old billionaire, seemed to be more comfortable during the interview than what I’ve heard he has been before, but he seemed to say some of the same stuff over and over again.  I forgot my regular camera and my cell phone camera is not that great, hence the not-so-great picture above.  However, here are some interesting things he said:

  • He mentioned that facebook was going to change their incentive system to one where the more invites you send out that are accepted, the more opportunities you have to invite others to join your network.   
  • He also said that at facebook, they begin with the premise that everyone is fundamentally good and not trying to do evil/illicit things. 
  • He felt that all of the mistakes they have made so far have had to do with them not giving their users enough control over the process.
  • He believes terrorism stems from people not feeling connected to each other.

The interviewer, Sarah Lacy, from BusinessWeek.com, had a strange interviewing style.  Sadly, much of the audience was wondering why she was asking the questions she did and why she was asking them the way she did.  Honestly, it seemed like she was a teenage girl flirting with a billionaire 20 something entrepreneur and many of her questions weren’t really questions they were statements.  After, the audience turned on her, I thought she might wonder why but apparently she thought she did a great job and said Mark told her she did a great job.  Omar Gallaga, who blogs for Austin 360 Digital Savant did a post-panel video interview with her that you can see HERE.  Check it out, it’s a good interview.  She believes that since she is one of the few women tech journalists that she always gets flack and is misunderstood.  Since I’m a woman in tech, after seeing her today I wouldn’t agree with her assessment of why the audience didn’t like her, but kudos to her for putting herself out there and trying.  I know she is being flamed on the Internet for the interview but if she can bounce back from this and learn & grow from this experience, she will be on her way to achieving great things.

Thom Singer, Author and Speaker on Networking

I tried hard to make it to Thom’s book reading, but after getting out of the room after Zuckerberg spoke, it was something like a 3 block hike from one end of the convention center to the other.  I arrived as he was wrapping up his Q&A.  Thom is an author and blogs at Some Assembly Required.  He’s about to release a new book called Some Assembly Required for Women.

Kathy Sierra, Author and Speaker

Kathy Sierra was a very interesting speaker.  She gave tips and advice on how to get your customers (and employees) passionate about your products.  The room was packed and since I was coming back from the other side of the convention center they wouldn’t let us in!  As I came up to the front of the line to ask what was going on, they said they couldn’t let us in because of fire code violation stuff. I was in line with Francine Hardaway and we along with a few others made some noise about how full it had been at the Zuckerberg talk and surely they can let us in since there weren’t more than 20 to 30 of us waiting outside and we had seen some people leave.  After a few minutes, they let us in.  Since I haven’t been blogging for a year yet, I didn’t know the back story on Kathy’s blogging stalker weirdness almost a year ago.  She indicated that she might start blogging again, which I look forward to.

The Super Collider: A Hero of the Social Network

I attended this panel briefly and it wasn’t what I thought it would be.  One of the panelists discussed how she was using the various social networks and social media to promote her business.  It was interesting, but nothing new so I took off to the Entrepreneur’s Lounge at Fogo de Chao Brazilian restaurant for a short after party.  It was hosted by ATI and uShip.  Ran into Bryan Mennell of Austin Startup blog there.

Hearing these people speak was fascinating but what was even more exciting to me was meeting face to face with many of my blogging friends and meeting new friends including Wendy Piersall of eMoms at Home, Liz Strauss of Successful Blog, Tamar Weinberg of Mashable, Gina Trapani of lifehacker, Laura Mayes of Sk*rt, Annalee Newitz of io9 (she blogs on sci-fi stuff), and Tim Walker of Hoovers Business.

Stay tuned for more of my SXSWi experiences on Monday and Tuesday.

Author: | Filed under: blogging, conferences, entrepreneurship, social media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Networking And The Stay-At-Home Parent – Guest Baby Tip
Feb 21 2008

I babble about business, babies, and parenthood on this blog, so those of you who come here to read my posts on entrepreneurship but do not have babies, please forward this post to your friends and family who do have babies. For those who have babies and dabble in business, these tips might be right up your alley.  If you have babies and no interest in business, then send it on to the folks you know who are knee-deep in business and encourage them to have a baby!  :-)  To read other great baby tips, check out the baby tips category.

Thom Singer, our very own Austin-based networking guru, bravely accepted my invitation to write a guest baby tip.   Thom Singer is the director of business development for vcfo in Austin, Texas. He is also a professional speaker and the author of two books on the power of business relationships and networking: “Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships” and “The ABC’s of Networking.”  He is currently working on “Some Assembly Required for Women” with co-author Marny Lifshen. He also blogs at Some Assembly Required.  And now here is his fabulous baby tip:

Networking And The Stay-At-Home Parent

thom-and-family-crop.jpgHaving children changes everything. It doesn’t matter what kind of life you lived before or how your family handles the arrival of your bundle of joy(s), introducing kids into the equation shakes up all of your priorities.

When my first daughter, Jackie, was born I was thirty years old. I was working in a sales position, making decent money, and building my professional reputation and network of contacts. I was ambitious, and did not think that being a parent would make my life all that different. My wife had planned to quit her job and stay home with our children, and I figured I would continue along my career path un-affected by fatherhood.

While on maternity leave my wife received the word that she was being promoted to the job she had desired for seven years with her employer. While she did not make as much money as I did at the time, the opportunity was too good to pass up, and after much discussion and soul searching, I found myself quitting my job to become a stay-at-home dad for two years.

Being a full-time parent is hard work. Don’t kid yourself unless you have taken on this responsibility for more than a few days. There are no days off, no coffee breaks, no business trips, expense accounts or anything else that is an accepted corporate perk. I had never thought growing up that I would be a stay-at-home dad, as there was no such job description or role models who did such a thing. In the late 1990’s the concept was still even more rare than it is today.

I found this time to be very challenging, but also extremely rewarding. Eleven years later Jackie and I have a very close relationship and we share a wonderful bond from those early days of always being together. However, I also knew that this was a temporary role, as my wife would have preferred to have been at home, and I longed to have a blossoming career. Thus I spent much of the time continuing to network and cultivate relationships that would allow me to one day return to the work world. Although there were some naysayers who warned me that my professional career would never recover from the two years away, the reality was because of the active networking I was able to bounce right back into my career when the time was right.

Whether you are a man or a woman, if you decide to take on the role of stay-at-home parenting while your children are young, you need to keep your professional relationships alive. This will not happen by accident, and it takes time and effort (things in short supply when babies are teething, learning to walk, getting sick, and just being cute as all get out!), but neglecting your network can make it much more difficult to transition back to the workforce when that time arrives.

I was very proactive and made sure I had one breakfast and one lunch meeting each week. I was lucky, as Jackie was a very agreeable baby who was happy to sit quietly on my lap or in her stroller while I talked business with friends and former co-workers. While some people are self-conscious about bringing their kids along to business meetings, I never looked at this as a negative. Caring for Jackie was my job, and it was just as important (or more important!) as being a lawyer, accountant or financial planner. As she got older and was more mobile, I would often need to be more creative on setting up these meetings, working around my wife’s schedule or trading babysitting with a neighbor in order to have such appointments. However, there is always a way when you realize that something is a priority.

When it came time to return to work it was easy to put the word out that I was looking for a job as I was still a visible part of the business community. This was as much a state-of-mind as it was a result of my actions.

Choosing to leave the work world to be home with your kids can be both difficult and rewarding. The isolation of not having other grown-ups around can leave one feeling very disconnected. If you can relate to these feelings, then you need to take charge of your networking efforts and get back out into the world. Your future opportunities will all come from people, so you need to make, grow and keep your business relationships.

Have A Great Day.

______

If you like this tip, you might be interested in these great ones too:

15 Tips for Traveling with Baby by Maryam Scoble at Maryamie

Throw A Baby Kegger For Your Buddy by Clay Nichols at DadLabs

Keeping a Baby Food Journal by Neena at A Mom’s Life at NeenMachine.com

Increasing Milk Supply by Carole Hayes at Alias Tex

Note to new readers: these tips are based on our experiences, as well as those of our friends and readers. Please always consult with your doctor before implementing any tip that might impact the health of your baby. If you have a tip you’d like to submit please send an email to blogger at babblesoft dot com.  Please check the ‘baby tips’ category to make sure your tip (in some form or fashion) hasn’t already been posted. If it has been, feel free to comment on that post and support the tip. We also welcome respectful challenges to the tips because as is noted in our inaugural baby tip ‘everything is relative!’ We will, of course, give anyone who submits a tip we publish credit and lotsa link love!

Author: | Filed under: baby, baby tips, networking, parenting, stay at home dad | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Yoga and Other Blog Mentions
Jan 14 2008

I’m making some progress on my personal 2008 goals.  I signed up for yoga and have lost between .5 and 1 pound.   Regarding my business goals, I’m still working on the executive summary, financial projections, visuals, and finding an attorney in order to raise funds. If all goes well documents will be substantially ready by end of next week, and I’ll be well on my way to finding the perfect lawyer…if that’s even possible. :-)   

Posting will be light over the next few weeks so in the meantime please check out the Work It, Mom! interview of me where they asked me the following questions:

  • What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
  • You’ve written that you and the other founder of your first company were “washed out.” How did you recover from that? Was it hard to jump back into the entrepreneurial game after that experience?
  • Many women entrepreneurs have mentioned that they felt they were not taken as seriously as businesswomen once people knew their companies were geared toward mothers. Has this been your experience?
  • What lessons from your first company are you applying to your second?
  • What’s most challenging part of your working-mom juggle?
  • What advice would you give a working mom who is trying to start her own company? What pitfalls would you tell her to avoid?
  • You have a great general attitude — what motivates you besides, well, creating a super-successful company?

Then pop on over to Thom Singer’s Some Assembly Required blog and check out my guest post on Building your e-Network where I expand on the following tips:

  • Do what you say you will do when you say you will do it.
  • When someone reaches out to you for help, answer them.
  • Build and foster trust by being consistent.
Author: | Filed under: blogging, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, mom, mother, social networks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Work/Life Balance of Networking
Nov 13 2007

I have been meaning to write this post about networking for quite some time now but I’ve been distracted by, held hostage by, paying attention to my network.  :-)

Networking is one of those interesting words that I see primarily referenced in the business world when describing connections with people who can help each other with their respective endeavors (e.g., job search, business building, introductions, etc.).  I’m not on Facebook yet, nor do I have a MySpace page but from what I read about those sites people do not seem to think what they are doing is ‘networking’ when they use those sites.  According to Facebook’s home page, “Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you.”  I never would have thought the term “social utility” would resonate with so many people, but it apparently does.

When people use sites like LinkedIn they do seem to think they are engaging in a form of networking.  I am on LinkedIn and you can see my profile here

My philosophy on who I link to and who I send LinkedIn invitations to is best illustrated in Thom Singer’s post at Some Assembly Required called LinkedIn Rant and Challenge to Bloggers which he later expanded on in his More On My LinkedIn Rant post.  In summary, I link to people I know, have worked with, and/or had a meaningful email/phone exchange with.  I generally don’t link to people who send me blind invites whose motivations for linking are iffy at best.

So why do I call this post Work/Life Balance of Networking?  Well it’s because of Gail Evans, former VP of CNN and author of Play Like A Man, Win Like A Woman and She Wins, You Win.   Back on September 20, 2007 she came to give a talk at the Association for Women in Technology – Austin (AWTA).  I have been on the board of AWTA for several years and just stepped down this past summer.

Gail said many profound and informative things about being a woman in the corporate world in her speech, but the comments I found most interesting were on work/life balance and networking for women.  Here they are:

  • Why do people (i.e., women) constantly talk about work/life balance?  It’s ALL one life!  We work in that life, we play with our kids in that life, we play spend time with our spouses in that life, we hang out with our friends/family in that life, and we spend time on ourselves in that life.  So if we talk to our kids while we are at the office or we check our Email while at home it’s one life.  She said it doesn’t really make sense why people suggest that work and life are warring and opposing elements because LIFE is the clear winner and it includes work!
  • Women don’t need to be taught how to network.  She suggested that women are born networkers because they can find out anything (e.g., best schools, where to get XYZ, best doctors, etc.) from another parent, a teacher, a shop owner, or whomever when they are discussing their kids and family.  Somehow, they have brainwashed themselves into thinking they need to hire someone or read a ton of books on how to network to make the same kind of connections in the business world.  [I laughed when she said this because it is so true that many women are scared of the 'networking' word at work!]  She illustrated with a story about how she overheard a conversation between two women who had met on a airport train on their way home.  One was pregnant.  The other had kids.  By the end of the train ride, Gail said she knew practically everything about them and who each of them recommended the other connect with except for where they worked!   Gail brought this up because she found it interesting that AWT brought in networking expert Steve Harper, author of The Ripple Effect to coordinate the ice breaker activities before her speech.  I’m not sure Steve stayed for the meeting and heard her make that observation.  I think Steve had commented that this was the first time he had facilitated an ice breaker for a roomful of women.  Way to go Steve!

Check out the books written by the people I mention above by clicking on the Amazon links below (for those reading this in a feed, you’ll have to click on the link post to see the book images below) and partake of their sage advice! 

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Author: | Filed under: networking, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »