Recent Entrepreneurial Events in Austin
Mar 6 2010

What I want to do with this blog is evolving, but I’m pretty sure my posts will generally still fit my tag line of “babbling about business and parenthood.”  Pretty much everything falls into those categories except for maybe marriage and love.  But you can feel married to your business, in love with it, and close to unconditionally in love with your children so yes, even marriage and love are fair game for this blog known as entrepreMusings.

On this post, I’m going to mention a few events that I’ve been involved with or attended recently here in Austin, TX that had to do with entrepreneurship.

Back on February 17, 2010 I had the honor of being a table moderator at a local event hosted by the Austin chapter of Texchange, a group that brings entrepreneurs together to network and discuss things that are of concern to entrepreneurs.  This event had a panel of 3 CEOs that recently had successful exits of their companies.  The panelists were Joel Trammel of NetQoS, Rod Favaron of Lombardi Software (an Austin Technology Incubator alum through it’s now defunct parent called OpenPlus), and Craig Malloy of Lifesize Communications.  For their full bios, check out the post on AustinStartup called Meet CEO’s With Major Recent Exits.  It was great to have in the same room, 3 CEOs who have had positive exists from their company.  I believe 2 of them even had all cash deals!

On March 4, 2010 I participated in 3 events and took away something from all of them.

The first was an Semantic Web Austin event hosting Mark Greaves from Vulcan Inc. (Paul Allen’s asset management group – www.vulcan.com) to discuss the opportunities in the semantic web space.   This event was hosted by the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) and Bart Bohn, our Director of IT/Wireless division coordinated it.  I have to say that most of it was over my head since I’m not a tech head – my degrees were not in technology.  The key takeaways for me were that there are languages called OWL and RDF that are used in creating Semantic Web apps,  and we are very early in understanding the semantic web and how it can be used as a basis of a profitable company.  It seemed to me like the next level in search querying.  In google you now would type something like ‘white elephant’ and get some links to sites that discuss white elephants but it’s based on how many people link to that site.  With the Semantic Web, you can ask things like “How many white elephants are there in China who belong to people making over $10K?” and get back more descriptive results.  To me it sounded a little bit like what Ask Jeeves was/is trying to do in a more sophisticated way.  Mr. Greaves mentioned companies in this space, including Zemanta, which I have wanted to try on this blog for a while now but have been wary about the learning curve.  An interesting applications he discussed was one aimed at pharmaceutical/medical companies that need to search tons of research data to get at specific points of data to continue research for other drugs.  I couldn’t quite get my mind around it, but like people didn’t really understand the social web 5+ years ago, we are probably at that stage right now for the semantic web.

The second was a RISE panel I sat on that was held at at TechRanch and the topic was “resilient start-ups” Suaad Sait was on the panel with me and he’s done several companies the most recent being Reach Force.  It was a fun panel in an intimate living room type of setting where the audience seemed to really get engaged.  I learned a few new things from the other panelists, but I think my biggest takeaway was that although my most visible entrepreneurial experience (venture backed) was just about 10 years ago, the lessons I were able to share still seemed relevant today.  Even though, I ended up transferring ownership of Babble Soft to my partner and didn’t end up raising money, I learned things about social media and a consumer business from it.  I sometimes forget that there are not that many people who have the experience I and the other panelists have or are living through right now.  I realized how easy it is to forget the unique value any of us brings to a situation based on our life learnings even if some it happened a decade or so ago which seems like an eon in Internet time.

The third event I attended was a CleanTX Foundation event on called Other People’s Money – The New Funding Landscape for your clean energy startup.  These events are run by Melissa Rabeaux, ATI’s Marketing/Communications Manager.  There were probably close to 150 people registered for the event!  The topic was interesting with very experienced speakers on the panel.  I learned how Xtreme Power, an ATI alumni member, got funded as well as about other sources of funding for clean tech companies.  I also learned that some people actually think you can bootstrap a clean energy company which is very hard to do given the research, tools, equipment one needs to have to build something in solar, wind, or alternative fuels.  Unlike some web companies that can be built by the sweat of your brow to prove viability, clean energy companies generally don’t operate that way.

So there are many things going on in Austin.  Check out the ATI blog for updates on what is going on in and around Austin and the ATI community.

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