From Non-Technical Founder to Technical

When I last wrote, I was working on a new startup. It did not succeed, but was easily one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in the past few years. Because in this last startup, I learned to code. This is something a lot of business founders are curious about, possibly scared of, and unsure of how to do it or if it’s worth it. So I wanted to share the story of my path from non-technical to technical and some thoughts on the pros and cons of business founders learning to code.

My Story

I started with the [Read the rest »]

BarCamp Ends and My New Startup Begins

BarCamp Boston 7The past couple of months I’ve been busy with Boston’s largest annual geek unconference, BarCamp Boston. A yearly event I help to organize, we had at least 550 attendees this year, despite conflicts with PAX East, Anime Boston, Passover, and Easter. An event where the content is meant to be generated entirely by attendees takes a surprising amount of work to make happen. Arranging a venue, finding sponsors, ordering t-shirts, creating the right structure, planning food, creating web apps that facilitate attendee connections, arranging additional programs like hardware recycling & a programming contest, and promotion, promotion, promotion.

BarCamp Boston … [Read the rest »]

Building a Business in 54 Hours – Boston Startup Weekend Recap

Boston Startup Weekend bannerThis past weekend I went to Boston Startup Weekend, a 54 hour event designed to bring a mix of developers, designers, and business people together to pitch ideas, form teams, and build the core of a startup. From around 100 attendees, 70  ideas were pitched, around 20 teams were formed, and the weekend ended with around 17 teams presenting their work.

I debated pitching a few ideas. A map tool using the StartupsInBoston.com and event data, an infographics creation tool, and various tools using twitter data. Ultimately, I pitched a twitter browser extension that would display a second stream … [Read the rest »]

5 Areas I’m Interested In for Startups

Five areas have been getting me thinking about startup opportunities lately:

Creating value from public content.

Stocktwits is aggregating and providing analytics on tweets about stocks. Major brands have dozens of tools for measuring sentiment, mindshare, and more from brand mentions in almost any online context. With thousands of posts per second to twitter alone talking about products, media, events, websites, politicians, and more… what other opportunities are there to index, analyze, and create value from publicly-posted content?

Life improvement.

Whether the goal is making more money, finding new friends, or just feeling good about your self, everyone has personal … [Read the rest »]

There’s No Off-Season for Boston Startup Events

Boston Startup Weekend - February 24th - 26thBack in Boston after a two-week visit home in January, I’m finding February filled with events for all elements of Boston’s startup scene. The Business of Apps at the Venture Cafe tomorrow, EdTechup on the 15th has a U.S. Department of Education guest this month, Vixmo’s hosting a Mobile Hackathon on the 18th, and Startup Weekend‘s happening again the 24th – 26th.

I’m particularly looking forward to Boston Startup Weekend; I’ve reserved my “non-technical” ticket and have my fingers crossed to find some cool people to work with. It’s likely I’ll pitch an idea that services the Boston startup … [Read the rest »]

How to Make Twitter Take Less Time

Making Twitter Take Less TimeIf you’re using twitter professionally, efficiency is important. There are some simple ways to save time without sacrificing substance. Building lists, saving searches, queuing content, and using Tweetfilter can help you keep twitter valuable, effective, and low-cost.

Build lists of the people you want to interact with

You want your audience, influencers, and others to follow you, but you don’t want to be a spammy follower. Good twitter professionals understand that while following another user is one of the best triggers for a follow-back, having a positive relationship with the person you’re following is key to making that succeed. Lists … [Read the rest »]

How to Fail at Social Media – Ignore Customer Complaints, Like Bolt Bus

Smart companies know that twitter is where conversations (including conversations about them) are happening, and there’s much benefit to joining in. Engaging fans and earning referrals, smoothing over mistakes and saving lost business, and enticing potential customers to try them are all benefits from joining the conversation. But once you’re in the twitter room, it’s as rude and alienating to ignore customers talking to you as it would be if it were in person.

A particularly bad offender I’ve noticed is Bolt Bus. During a bad experience of my own last week, I tweeted at them three times over the … [Read the rest »]

What is content strategy (and what is “content”)?

It’s how businesses are earning attention, getting customers, and shaping their industry. It’s content strategy: a plan for producing and sharing information and media with audiences you want to reach, to achieve goals like customer acquisition and press coverage.

Three Quick (Fictional) Examples of Content Strategy

Lapadio Logo (Fictional Content Strategy Example)B2C: Lapadio, an online music company, wants to get more iTunes users to sign up and upload a list of their music library. They host monthly contests for users to build playlists for unique themes and add commentary, from their uploaded library. The content (and links to it as users promote their playlists in … [Read the rest »]

Highlights from the Archives

As I work on some new posts, I wanted to point you to some of my best old ones; many of these I’ve reread and found to be useful recently myself.

How to Add Value to a Discussion

Join the conversation!, the Cluetrain Manifesto said. And every year new businesses / bloggers / young professionals hop eagerly aboard, charging into your blog comments / presentations / conferences to say:

“Hi! Great post / talk / point. Could you answer a question you already answered in it? Here’s something you said, restated in a slightly different way. Now, could you

[Read the rest »]

Boston’s Best Conference, BarCamp Boston, This Weekend

This Saturday and Sunday, April 9th & 10th, BarCamp Boston 6 is happening at Microsoft NERD in Kendall Square. It’s Boston’s geek unconference, an event where 350 – 400 of Boston’s most passionate and interesting people, from students to CEOs, get together for two days of intriguing sessions, excellent conversations, and free food. Unlike many conferences with expensive tickets, prearranged speakers, and an invite-only mentality, BarCamp is free to attend, open to everyone, and available for anyone to present at.

We schedule sessions live each day at the event, with anyone who would like to host a discussion or make … [Read the rest »]

Contact

E-mails welcome at:
jay [.dot.] neely [@at@] socialstrategist [.dot.] com

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Projects

  • Boston Startups Guide - Directory of Boston startups sortable by location, industry, etc.
  • What To Do Boston - A collection of guides on living in Boston, and tales from my own explorations.