Jul 6 2011

Our Startup Story: Introducing Uncubed (Denver Coworking)

John

This post won’t mean much to you if your’e not in Denver. Though if you ever find yourself passing through, know that there’s a desk waiting for you, no charge.

 

I haven’t gotten bored of 360|Conferences yet, in fact after a successful and profitable 360|Flex 2011 I’m very much excited for the future of 360|Conferences. That doesn’t mean I can’t explore new avenues.

Last week we signed a lease for a large warehouse. Large like 6000 sq/ft. It’s going to be called Uncubed, and it’s a coworking (among other things) space.

There’s no shortage of coworking spaces in Denver, I won’t lie, I can think of 4 off the top of my head and know of a few more opening. That said, there really is room for more, as the ones I’ve visited so far couldn’t be more dis-similar from each and for the matter from what we’re planning to do.

Most cater to some degree to creatives, as those communities are the ones most dialed into the coworking ‘thing’, but none are exclusive to those communities. Some have plastered fliers around Denver and no doubt have a really wide range of “butts in seats”.

While making money (at least not losing it) is a huge motivator for us (as it is with any business) our primary goal will be creating a space where the right people are hanging out. A place where we’re all in one room, with comfortable chairs, fast internet, great coffee, and most importantly, people we want to be around, and want to be around us.

To put is succinctly… Makers.

 

We’re just getting started, so stay tuned. But if you’re in Denver working from home or a coffee shop or (not to be too poachy) another coworking space. Check us out, we’re all about Denver Coworking. Right now the website is just a landing page (but feel free to sign up for the email blast that will let you know more) with all the regular social links, etc.


Jul 29 2010

10 Mistakes made in starting up.

John

I saw this post on quicksprout, and the first one pinged right off the bat. It’s a great post of 10 common mistakes.

When I saw that #1 was “Speed” i knew I had to post something there. Tom and I argued… ok fought about speed a lot. I’m a very now now now, let’s do it now vs. wait around and do it later person. Tom is the opposite. ┬áSo is Nicole for that matter, but she’s at least open to letting me convince her I’m right :)

#3 is a good one. Hard to make work, but a good one. It’s really hard to remove emotion from the equation. A sponsor being lame, or backing out, or people abusing press passes, it hurts. It’s an affront to you, and feels like a slap in the face, and it’s hard to not do the first thing that comes to mind. But I agree it’s often (I don’t know if I’d say always) best to let logic win out.

#7 Is interesting. 360|Conferences wouldn’t exist without Tom and I. Neither of us is likely to have done it on their own. I know it wasn’t on my mind, and pretty sure it wasn’t on Tom’s. But the two of us together bootstrapped the company into 4 anchor events a year, plus a few one-off trial events etc. And not to be all horn tooty, pretty sure we’re why several others have created events. A business partner is a huge asset, but as Tom and I learned, you need to be more than just friends. You need to be on the same page. Turns out Tom and I were rarely on the same page, and only sometimes reading the same book.

The rest of the list is great, and I agree with each item. I take vacations, sometimes a weekend off, etc. I plan for just enough of tomorrow to know what I want to do the next day, but if you were to ask me what 2012 or even 2011 looked like for us, the best I’d be able to say is 4 events, a possible location. That’s it.It’s grand to plan out to 2015, but it’s the stuff in between that’s FAR more important.


May 4 2010

When the formula works you’ll know it.

John

360|Flex San Jose made over 110k…. We of course were in huge debt coming out of 2009, so we cleared no where near that. but that’s the most a 360|Event has ever made.

Clearly we’re doing better at this than before :)

Not super terrific awesome, but better.

I think we’ve found pricing that works ($499 first 100, $599 the rest), and stays true to our “Not breaking the Indie bank” ethos. We’ve also found a rhythm in selling sponsorships. Turns out I’m actually pretty good at it. These two things combined, with really aggressive selling to the community, seem to be paying off.

Our sponsorship package has gotten more wide ranging, and I think truly offers our sponsors a great value. For 360|iDev, I actaully had to turn people away, we simply didn’t have anything left to make into a sponsorship, and I refuse to simply take people’s money without giving them the absolute more value for their spend.

As the transition from 2 man team to 1 man team (Actually my wife is a major part of the company now) finishes it’s 6 month progression, I find myself even more excited about 360|Conferences.┬áThere’s lots to do, and plenty of uncertainty, but that’s exciting. I’m working hard to get 360|Mobile locked in. I’ve already begun looking at locations for 360|Flex and 360|iDev Fall. I’ve even started the ball rolling for 360|iDev Spring 2011, if you can believe that!

Oh and Europe. We might actually make it to Europe in 2010. Still TBD.


Oct 29 2009

migrating from 2 to 1 is not fun or easy

John

So Tom and I are moving on from 360|Conferences, well I’m moving forward with it, Tom is moving away from it.

The move has started, we’re transitioning things over to me, that he has been in charge of, up until now.

It’s not fun. My latest “It’s all yours moment” came when I opened quickbooks for the first time. If it’s possible to have a massive coronary, while awake and aware, that’s what I experienced.

It’s not Tom’s fault, when we got started, i made it known I didn’t want to run the books. I’ve never liked “the books”. My wife runs the household books, and I barely manage at running my own bank acct and Discover card. Not for a lack of skill but more for a lack of interest.

I won’t lie the books were in a sad state. Without getting into specifics, I’ll be spending more time than I imagined getting them to a cleaned up place where I can get our new acct involved in them.

My advice, run your books yourself, you’ll be better off and it’s something every business person should learn. This is now in the “Lesson Learned” column for me.

On the upside, I think I’m taking a liking to quickbooks, as i work thru it. Who knew!


Sep 17 2009

Ups and Downs and Downs and the need for paper

John

So it’s been announced that Tom is leaving 360|Conferences after our 360|Flex Conference March 2010.

It’s definitely a sad week.

unfortunately it highlights a glaring omission in our business, a lack of written agreements and/or even mutually agreed upon definitions of things.

Sure we have the actual incorporation papers, our ownership split, but that’s it. I won’t lie and say it never occurred to me, it did, several times, and each time I either back burnered it or prioritized another expense over it (lawyers ain’t cheap). And like all things put off, it’s biting us in the butt.

I don’t foresee any Calcanis/Arrington style online bitch matches, but I’m not gonna kid myself, the next few months will be messy as Tom and I figure out what it means to work 1 partner out of the company; assets (what few there are), debts, responsibilities, etc all have to be figured out.

On my end of things I have to figure out where I’m going from here. I mean the company is going to continue to bring Flex and iPhone developers the best community conferences around, but will I do it alone? It’s no secret money is tough for Tom and I because we have 2 people to pay, and doing an event 2x a year doubles expenses, but doesn’t double income. It might make sense for 360|Conferences to be a one man show, at least for a while.

It should make for some interesting blog posts :)


Feb 17 2009

The Power of the Partnership

John

Partnerships often suck. There I said. Tom and I often fight like an old married couple, in fact we’ve been called that by our wives, and even attendees of 360|Flex.

But I have no doubt in my mind, and have told Tom as much, that our strength is our differences, and that neither of us, could succeed without that other. Sure I don’t doubt that both of us could part company and be successes in our own right, but we’re like the wonder twins when together, an unbeatable force. We’re still interviewing for Gleek.

The number of business ideas Tom and I have bandied about are inumerable (freed, AntiMBA, more books than I can count as well), but the one that stuck was one that both of us were passionate about and could work together on. Conferences. It’s also the thing neither of us ever thought would be our ‘thing’.

I’ve tried being a software consultant (what developer hasn’t), and Tom fired me from Freed and went on his own, and well it didn’t go very far (I’m sure Tom can expand on Freed in his own post). But together we’ve not only taken the Flex Developer community by storm, but we’ve fired a warning shot across the bow of other tech conferences, putting them on notice that they cost too much, and offer too little.

What makes us work so well together is our differences; Tom is a planner, I’m not. I’m a risk taker, Tom tends to not be. I’m guided by my gut on a lot of things, and Tom likes proof/research. We balance each other out just enough so that we’re not paralyzed with “what if” but also not running off half cocked.

I think the true strength of a partnership is the same as a marriage, opposites attract. If you’re partner is on the exact same wavelength, there’s really no point in having a partner, you don’t need someone having the same thoughts as you, reinforcing each one. You need a partner that has the same goals but a different outlook, to act as a counter point.

Many business folks will poo poo the partnership, but I’m convinced that despite our differences and the shouting matches, 360Conferences, wouldn’t be what it is (or even exist) if not for the combined efforts of Tom and I.