MassTLC unConference: Can We Build on the Momentum?

Across Twitter, the blogosphere and professional media, there is an obvious consensus: the MassTLC unConference was a resounding success.  Everyone has been talking and tweeting about the energy and enthusiasm that permeated the event.  I believe everyone left with a renewed feeling of optimism for entrepreneurship in New England and a new set of contacts that will be helpful in whatever ideas, ventures or initiatives they are pursuing.

I have no doubt that, on an individual basis, everyone will greatly benefit from the unConference.  However, the greater question is what larger goals may now be possible because of it. A list of action items were created during Scott Kirsner and Tim Rowe’s session called, “Turbocharging the Entrepreneurial Culture in MA.”  These items require a diverse group of people in the community to come together to address issues big and small.

Being a “greenhorn” in the community, I’m not sure how I can help in some cases, but I want to do my part.  I look forward to launching the site being built by myself and some colleagues to help young entrepreneurs  by providing a consolidated source and aggregate for events, resources and other pertinent information.  In addition, if anyone needs any young entrepreneurs to aide in any of the tasks through man power or just a different perspective, I am certainly willing and I believe I know quite a few others who would gladly get involved as well.

So, my question for you, reading this right now, is how, in any way big or small, are you able to help tackle these action items?

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I also wanted to use this entry to summarize and consolidate everything that happened at the unConference.  As I’ve been reading, listening and watching the reactions to the event, I’ve compiled those all into one place.  Below, you will find every piece of content I know of on the internet (sans individual tweets praising the event) that has been generated as a result of the awesome unConference.  If I missed anything, please comment with the link and I’ll update the list.

The Center of it:
Professional Media:
Bill Warner’s Blog/Photo essay of opening
Session Media:
Bill Warner’s discussion of “starting a company with no money”
Adam Zand’s Collection: http://www.utterli.com/AdamZand
PR Improv:
Music 2.0
SKirsner & TRowe:
My earlier entry w/ List
Picture of session: http://yfrog.com/2pzx9j
Lean Startups
Meetup Group organized by John Prendergast, who led the session: http://www.meetup.com/Lean-Startup-Circle-Boston/
Google Group: http://bit.ly/ewVJs
Steve Blank’s Blog: http://steveblank.com/
Build a Community, Not a Network
Quote of the day:
“Some of you are so smart that you take something that should be an instant failure & turn it into a 4-year failure.” -Bill Warner
“Why, @pistachio asks, are we going up against Silicon Valley as ‘Boston’ & ‘Providence,’ not New England?” -@ Pistachio

Links related to the event itself:
unConference website
MassTLC Website
The Pre-Event Session Wiki
The Sessions Listing Wall
MassTLC Blog

Pieces by the Professional Media:
Mass High Tech
Scott Kirsner’s Friday 5
NECN Coverage
NECN Reporter, Scott Montmimy

Blog Entries on the overall unConference:
Bill Warner’s Blog/Photo essay of opening of event
Bill Warner’s Video of the Event
Bill Warner’s collection of 83 Photos
Brough Turner’s Blog

Specific Session Contemt:

“Starting a Company with no Money”:
Session Audio

“PR Improv”:
Session SummarySession Audio Part 1 & Part 2

“Music 2.0”:
Session Audio

“TurboCharging the Entrepreneurial Culture”:
Session Summary,  “The List”, Photo 1, Photo 2

“Firing Founders is VC-101: How to Keep Your Founder Job”
Session Summary

“Build a Community, Not a Network”:
Session Summary, Photo

“Dodging Bullets that Kill Startups”
Session SummaryLean Startups Meetup Group, Lean Startups Google Group, Steve Blank’s Book & Blog, Eric Ries’s Blog & MIT Event, and another blog

Quote of the day:

Based on number of reTweets:
“Some of you are so smart that you take something that should be an instant failure & turn it into a 4-year failure.” -Bill Warner

Based on importance to improving our community:
“Why are we going up against Silicon Valley as ‘Boston’ & ‘Providence,’ not New England?” -@ Pistachio

Russ Wilcox, Mass High Tech All Star

As I was following my twitter stream today on TweetDeck, I noticed an announcement about “Mass High Tech All Stars”. What really caught my attention was the mention of Russ Wilcox receiving one of the awards.  Russ is very deserving of this and the other awards he and E Ink have been amassing recently.  I’ve had a number of great experiences with Russ, so I’d like to share a few here.

As you may recall from my first entry, there was a seminar my freshman year at Northeastern that included local entrepreneurs coming in to discuss their start-up experiences.  Russ was one of those entrepreneurs, and to this day, I remember his presentation.  He showed us his VC pitch and talked about his passion for changing the way we interact with books. The innovative nature of the technology and the passion he showed really stood out and definitely contributed to my growing interest in entrepreneurship at the time. From that day forward, I followed E Ink in the news to see how they were doing.

When I graduated 4 years later, it only seemed natural to apply for a position at E Ink; by working there I could learn more about a great local start-up firsthand.  Fortunately, they hired me for a summer job that got my foot in the door. During that time, Russ was constantly being taped in interviews, interacting with employees and talking about making E Ink a success. His passion seemed to spread to others and his demeanor made everyone feel confident and comfortable. After overhearing he got to talk to one of my all-time favorite entrepreneurs, Mark Cuban, on the phone as part of something Mark’s HDNet was reporting on, I decided I had to get a chance to talk to him too.

I won’t lie…I was scared. I thought to myself, “this is a man running a 100+ employee company that is just starting to gain traction…he has no time to talk to me.”  Luckily, I didn’t let those thoughts get the best of me,  so I emailed him explaining my passion for entrepreneurship and asked if I could talk to him about his experiences.  To my delight, he was more than happy to and we scheduled a meeting.

The meeting was everything I hoped it would be and more.  He started out by telling me the story of E Ink; how they almost went bankrupt and the extreme situation he was handed the day he was named CEO (6 weeks of cash left, no established product) and how they made it to 2008.  We then talked about his personal background and how he ended up at E Ink.  The discussion then turned towards me and I explained to him what I hoped to do and he gave me a lot of great advice.  He suggested a ton of reading and explained his philosophy for all that reading (essentially…there’s something to learn from all of them…the key is recognizing those key nuggets and combining it with the others).  The meeting was scheduled to be 45 minutes, but we ended up talking for an hour and a half. During that time, he never looked at his watch or hinted at all that he had anything to do but talk to me.

It’s experiences like these that inspire future generations of entrepreneurs.  I hope one day I can be the type of leader Russ is and hope he can continue to guide E Ink to a successful future.

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I’ll leave you with a quote from Russ that speaks deeply to his beliefs and what I think entrepreneurship is really all about:

“You live to your fullest potential when you pursue a challenging dream that builds lasting value for others. ” -Russ Wilcox, CEO E Ink