The Saturday, March 29, 2008 Startupalooza event at Cubespace in Portland (thank you, Todd Kenefsky, who organized it, and Eva and the rest of the Cubespace hosts) was the lowest BS-quotient startup confab I’ve ever seen.
The format was PowerPoint overviews, mostly of what companies or projects were doing, but instead of puffery and pitches, the approach was almost from the perspective of a confessional. Pretty much everything was interesting and well done, but most memorable for me were GarageGames (evolved from game software contract work to web-based distributed games building platform) and Jive Software (evolved from Jabber-based chat to a broader platform solution for customer communications – see Matt Tucker’s XMPP posting from January on Jive’s potential direction), as well as projects, like Unthirsty.com (happy hour mashups on Google Maps), which spawned Knitmap.com (same idea, but for knitting supplies).
It was striking that none none of these had been successful on the first go – sequential failure (or maybe I should really say “less than complete success,” “aborted success,” “undermined success,” “unleverageable success,” etc.) over many years was the norm – not that I’ve experienced that :). Also, none were heroic solo successes. Each was driven by multiple people who had somehow found others that complimented themselves.
A few weeks later at an Oregon Entrepreneurs’ Network forum, I couldn’t help thinking that the contrast with Startupalooza was like the contrast between 90’s, Microsoft-like software and 00’s open source.