startups – Stay N Alive

BoomStartup Brings TechStars-like Seed-Capital and Mentoring Program to Utah

I’ve talked often about Utah’s tech scene.  While it doesn’t always get the publicity it deserves, there is an incredible booming tech scene happening here in the Salt Lake City area right now.  Just last Wednesday I attended a Launchup event, where about 100+ entrepreneurs, investors, and bloggers all conjoined in this monthly meeting to hear 3 other startups have their claim to fame.  Kynetx, Simler, and iActionable were all given advice and free help from those 100+ peers hoping for them to succeed.  With a very tight-knit environment, coworking spaces like BetaLoft and CoWork Utah, along with close proximity to the mountains, 15 minutes from great skiing, rock climbing, hiking and other outdoor activities, along with some of the hardest working people I’ve ever been around, it deserves more attention.  Along with all this, BoomStartup, a new Mentoring and Seed-Capital program that hopes to mimic TechStars (out of Boulder, CO) announced it is taking applications for its Orem, Utah (just outside Salt Lake City) location.

BoomStartup brings such mentors as Josh James, former CEO and John Pestana, his co-founder of Omniture, Inc., which just sold to Adobe. Joining them is former Novell Luminary, Ralph Yarro, former Cisco Executive Martin Frey, and former former HP Executive Warren Osborn.  Also participating are Nobu Mutaguchi, one of Utah’s most prolific angel investors and Warren Osborn, an active venture and private equity investor.

John Richards, an early founder of InfoSpace, Inc., and later investor in Omniture and EnticeLabs, founded BoomStartup to “provide current and aspiring tech entrepreneurs an ideal opportunity to get their businesses up and running by presenting each company with seed capital, mentoring and networking from successful entrepreneurs and technologists.”  BoomStartup provides each selected company in the program “with seed capital (up to $15,000), mentoring from successful entrepreneurs and technologists, free office space and resources, and education that takes them through the various steps of getting a tech startup off the ground. Key to the program is the involvement of “investor-mentors” who give of their financial resources and their time as mentors.”

Applicants must meet specific criteria including a founding team of 2 or more, focus on the web, mobile, software, or non-hardware tech, must be scalable, must be able to apply full-time commitment from May to August during the program, work from their Orem, Utah based offices, and have a CTO/master coder with at least 20 percent equity in the company.  They are hosting a series of “Meet the Investor/Mentor” days, the first happening today at 4pm at their offices in the former WordPerfect buildings at Canyon Park Technology Center, Building J (1401 N. Research Way, Orem, Utah).  At the event, applicants can talk and ask questions about the program from the Investors-Mentors.

Living in Utah I’m very excited about this program.  With the wealth of experience here, former Novell Execs, WordPress Execs, and many of the early Web 1.0 startups that formed the history of the software world as it is today, there’s no doubt there will be enough experience to foster some very interesting companies from this program.  I’ve also offered my help if they want it to mentor in the realm of social media, getting blogger attention, etc. so perhaps you’ll see me around as well.

If you’re looking for a cool place to live during the summer, along with some great mentors, and what I know will be a very successful startup mentoring program, I encourage you to apply.  Applicants can apply at – and while you’re out here, look me up and show me what you’re working on!

Brazen Careerist Launches Site for Job Seekers That Gen-Y-ers Can Actually Enjoy

Generation Y, those that grew up with the web and many of which probably know of no life without it, is prime target for those looking for fresh blood in the Job Marketplace.  It is this generation that is just entering the marketplace, and which Employer after Employer is fighting to gain access to.  These are the founders of Facebook, the latest entries to the Google workforce, and the future of Microsoft.  These are those that will shape the ideas of our future.  Just recently, Brazen Careerist, a site targeted towards Job Seekers, became one of the first to jump at this market by building an entire Social Network targeted towards the Generation Y Job Seeker.

Brazen Careerist hits all the points that Gen Yers love.  Being a much more open audience than their older peers, the site focuses on this fact, bringing attention to a Facebook or Twitter-like stream.  The first question it asks you is, “What are you thinking?”, a question the Gen-Y audience is likely to be more than willing to share with employers.  The entire site integrates well with Facebook Connect, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other networks, enabling users to share across multiple networks, import from their favorite sites, and discuss the ideas their friends are sharing.

In my early 20s, working for startups such as, and, I was known as the idea man.  At the time I didn’t have that much experience, but, being the entrepreneur that I am, I always had an idea that I was sharing.  I think you can still see this today on this blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Brazen Careerist helps to highlight the less-experienced workers’ way of thinking by enabling thoughts, and ideas to be shared and discussed.  For an idea person such as myself, this service is a God-send in empowering the truly innovative minds of our society.  At the same time it is a great tool for employers to discover those bright minds, as, one of the first questions most employers ask in the interview process is “Tell me about yourself”.

Let’s face it.  LinkedIn is for old people.  It has hardly innovated over the years.  While still a great network for the Gen-Xers and more experienced workforce to network, it is just too hard for a new employee entering into the workforce to get the most out of such a site, especially in a group of people so willing to share information about themselves.  The new Brazen Careerist takes the LinkedIn Resume, but adds to it the ability for each potential employee to truly express themselves in a way history just hasn’t manifested yet.  In a much more open workforce it seems suitable a new entrant into the networking marketplace came forward.

If you’re one of these Gen-Yers looking to gain an edge with your peers and potential employers, Brazen Careerist is the perfect tool to accomplish that.  I encourage you to check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.  You can also “fan” me there at

MuseBuzz Sends You Song Notifications Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Signed, Sealed And DeliveredI love new music. When I was younger I would spend my evenings and weekends surfing the used CD stores finding that rare track or remix no one had heard before.  I would spend hours at Blockbuster Music (remember them?) previewing every CD I could to find the perfect album or single.  Maybe it’s a bit of music ADD, but I get bored with old songs easily.  That’s why I try to use iTunes Alerts as often as I can to be notified when my favorite artist has a new Single or Album out.  Recently at a local Launchup event I came across a new service which seeks to simplify the iTunes notifications process. The service is called MuseBuzz, and it’s very simple, but incredibly useful!

With MuseBuzz you’re given one click, and PC or Mac, it automatically reads your iTunes library, retrieves the list of artists, and gives you a nice, simple interface to select (all are defaulted selected) or deselect the artists you do or don’t want to receive new music notifications for.  I left mine all checked, and look forward to receiving e-mail notifications for the artists I listen to in my library.

While it would be nice to have more filtering options and maybe a smarter recommendations filter to suggest my most frequently listened artists (maybe using or Pandora data?), this is definitely a step much further than Apple has been able to provide in their own iTunes interface.  I am unaware of any other service that does similar.  The site requires a simple registration to get your e-mail address and a login, but after that you’re immediately presented with your list of artists.

musebuzz artist list

MuseBuzz is founded by Chase Brammer, a new entrepreneur and local Utah Flex expert.  For such a simple business concept, I’m excited to see what new songs show up in my inbox next.  The service is completely free and you can run it at

You can see Chase’s presentation at Launchup on Ustream here.

Screen shot 2009-11-13 at 12.02.25 AM

Hey Utah, You Have a Tech PR Problem

Laptop MegaphoneThose like myself that live in Utah know there is a thriving tech startup community here.  From early startups like Omniture, Freeservers, and Wordperfect, to newer ventures like SocialToo, TweetBeep,, FusionIO, i.TV (previously number 1 in the iTunes app store), and FamilyLink (the makers of the Facebook App, We’re Related, one of the top 5 apps on Facebook) there’s no shortage of innovation in the Tech community in Utah.  Add to that some very talented investors like Bryce Roberts, co-founder of O’Reilly AlphaTech ventures, Peterson Partners, and the entire Sorenson Capital and vast array of angel investors and private equity options available, there’s no shortage of innovation and capital to support that innovation.  Unfortunately though, money and innovation are only part of the equation.  A company needs eyes.  It is extremely difficult to grow a tech company without the attention of Silicon Valley and the technorati out there.  So why is it that we so rarely see Utah companies in TechCrunch, or Mashable, or Gizmodo, or ReadWriteWeb even?

What amazes me is the vast amount of attention Boulder, Colorado startups get.  I think they know how to generate news, because the main “incubator” for lack of a better term) of those companies is Tech Stars, and Tech Stars has an amazing success rate at cranking out fairly successful companies in relatively short amount of time.  But I really don’t think Utah has any shortage of tech startups in similar timeframes when compared to Boulder.  In fact, our startups in many ways have shaped the internet (University of Utah was one of the first 4 nodes of the internet, after all).  On FriendFeed, I compiled a list of all the tech startups that either started in Utah and are now flourishing, or that are brand new and working to get off the ground that I could think of – this is what I came up with:

Of course, that list is just off the top of my head – there are many more that I’m sure will come up in the comments.  I look at this list of companies, and I look at the bustling activity of jam-packed rooms full of people at iPhone dev garages, Social Media developers garages, Tweetups, Social Media Club meetings, Launchups and more, why in the world is Utah having such a hard time getting into the tech Press of Silicon Valley?  Utah has a serious tech PR problem, and I’d like to help fix it if I can.

So why the PR problem?  Well, for one, correct me if I’m totally wrong here, but I’m not aware of many Tech bloggers in the area visible in the Silicon Valley scene, with over 1,000 subscribers that can get the word out easily.  I’m aware of three right now, please correct me if I’ve missed you: Matt Asay, Phil Windley, and myself.  Are there any more?  I think this could change if more people in Utah focused on technology in their blogging.  I’ve noticed a trend in Utah recently of many bloggers completely giving up on that, and it’s depressing, personally.

Secondly, of those 3 bloggers (sorry Matt and Phil – you’re going to hate me after this, I know), we’re not getting pitched by Utah companies.  The majority of my blog audience right now, as you can see, are Silicon Valley, and states outside of Utah.  Chances are that if you’re reading this you’re not even in Utah, and I think that’s sad, personally.  Utah has a huge opportunity to get the bias of their local tech bloggers, which in turn could lead to TechCrunch mentions, TechMeme exposure and more, and they’re not even taking advantage of it.  If you run an Open Source company, you should be pitching Matt Asay to write about you in his Open Road blog on CNet.  Phil Windley is also very interested in that (as am I, occasionally), along with interesting startups and people for his IT Conversations podcast.  If you’re building a social, real-time, or otherwise just plain cool tech startup you should be pitching me to write either here or on, where I occasionally write.


The darker states represent the higher traffic areas to

If you run a tech startup in Utah, money is hard to come by these days.  Exposure is easier than you think though.  If you’re hiring an expensive PR company to do this for you, you’re doing it wrong.  You should start by pitching locally, then if that doesn’t work (sorry, like an investor, bloggers have to turn down pitches as well), get on Twitter, build an audience, and most importantly, start your own blog.  If you ever want any advice in doing that please don’t hesitate to contact me.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of new startups in Utah right now.  I don’t know who you are.  There are hundreds of tech bloggers in the area, I’m sure, which can easily build an audience and help these startups.  I don’t know who you are.  I’m not sharing this to boast of my own subscribers, but rather to offer a call for help.  Utah, let’s work together to let Silicon Valley know we’re out here.  I think if we do it right, we could, and should, very well be considered the next “Boulder” of the MountainWest.  How can I help Silicon Valley know more about you?

If you live in Utah, or run a business in Utah, let’s retweet this around so we can help each other out.  Please be sure to share it with your friends.

Internet Everywhere – It Starts With Your Startup

Fix the internet - Mt RushmoreAs I type this I’m driving in I-90 East through somewhere near Madison, Wisconsin (I’m in the passenger seat), finally able to access the internet for the first time in 2 days. We started our trip in Salt Lake City, Utah where I live and have since driven through most of Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana. The withdrawals were setting in, yes, but I’ve learned a lot over the previous days – the Internet is advancing but most people still do not have Internet!

I realized what a terrible state we are in when on Wednesday we were visiting Mount Rushmore and in front of our eyes, rappellers from Greenpeace began to descend down and hang a sign protesting Obama’s position on Global Warming. I had my telephoto lens and SLR with me so I immediately began snapping pictures of the entire event as it unfolded and recording video on my iPhone. I had a problem however – there was no Internet at Mount Rushmore. No Wifi. No Edge. No 3G. Evidently there may have been a connection from some other service, since supposedly Greenpeace livestreamed the event from Ustream, but I have no idea what. I was dead in the water to be able to report what was happening. I was able to call my contact at a local Utah news station to report the news (ironically they probably had the news before South Dakota even had it), but I had no way of getting them any images or video of the event as it was unfolding. It wasn’t until 3 hours later that I was finally able to find a store with a connection I could use. However, what was the first thing I did? I SMS’d a Tweet to Twitter (a few, actually) telling the world about what was happening. I also called Cinch, and recorded my voice thoughts of the event – those went out to FriendFeed and Twitter.

Global Warming aside, I think President Obama has other things to consider as well. One of the initiatives he is striving for during his Presidency is the ability for every American, everywhere, to have access to broadband Internet. It’s an interesting initiative, begging the question whether Americans actually have “rights” to have Internet access. However I think there’s one better Initiative President Obama needs to consider that will help towards this cause: Businesses should be encouraged to adopt alternative communications platforms that take up much less bandwidth such as SMS, MMS, and Voice. That’s right – we need to take a step back before we can take a step forward.

Others may argue, but one of the major reasons Twitter has been successful has been due to the support of SMS as a publishing and communications platform. One message of “follow soandso” to 40404 and you have updates coming straight to your phone, no registration necessary, no internet necessary, and just one number anyone has to remember. It’s a powerful concept, and while not used by most people, it has enabled people to post “earthquake!” to Twitter, collaborate and organize forest fires in the middle of nowhere, report political unrest and more. It’s how I was able to be the first person to report on Mount Rushmore’s protest on Wednesday. This is what brought the media to Twitter, which is what inspired others to join, and even brought Oprah to Twitter. It’s the information and quality of information that can be delivered, worldwide, which has made them successful – that would not be near as effective without SMS as a simple medium to publish that information when internet is not available.

A Proposal

My first suggestion is for President Obama: We need more measures to make SMS and MMS more affordable for businesses to integrate. It is currently too expensive, without financing, for startups to afford SMS integration into their startup. It’s one reason Twitter removed the previously popular “track” service which allowed you to receive updates via SMS when people Tweeted various keyword criteria. It’s why Twitter has completely removed SMS service in many other countries. It’s why hardly any other competitor to Twitter has been able to integrate SMS at all.

We need tax breaks for people that choose to integrate these “simpler services”. The companies that provide these communication mediums should also receive tax breaks and incentives for reducing the price. Perhaps the government needs to step in a little bit on the costs. In addition, the public needs to be educated of these incentives. Startups should know the potential numbers they could reach by enabling such simpler services in addition to their more broadband-appropriate offerings.

Now I have a suggestion for the startups: Consider integration with SMS, MMS, and even voice. Some times the numbers may not be so obvious, but if you’re trying to provide information to the masses, the best way to get the quality posts may be through non-internet posting mediums.

Recently Robert Scoble wrote about some stats shared by Thomas Hawk about Twitter and Facebook growing, but FriendFeed remaining stagnant. Let’s lay aside the argument that I don’t think any of the three are even competitors. I think the number one step FriendFeed could take right now that would increase their traffic, reduce the growth of the other two, and put them ahead, is to integrate some of these simpler services. The media will never join unless they can get the “earthquake” and “fire” and political unrest stories they’re getting from Twitter right now. Many of those posts can’t happen if there is no non-internet form of communication.

In addition, imagine if I could send e-mail via SMS? Now, I may not want to have it on all day but what if I could at least send a quick e-mail when my internet is not working but I do have a cell phone plan? A simple SMS ought to do. Services like Gmail and Yahoo and Hotmail could all provide such a service, and open up to a much wider worldwide audience. I remember in Thailand in various towns much of the community not having internet without having to go to the local University to get it. Guess what? They all still had cell phones.

There’s a void in the world right now. It exists in a large part of our nation, in fact, and I think outside of Silicon Valley circles we often forget that. It’s time to step back just a bit and be sure we’re accommodating those without internet access in our startups as well as those who have it.

Participate in the First Community Barn-Raising for Modern Entrepreneurs

thumbphpAwhile back I was Tweeting to Jeremy Hanks, local business owner and CEO of, a direct-ship solution for small businesses, suggesting the idea of doing monthly entrepreneur/bootstrappers breakfasts here in Salt Lake and Surrounding areas. It was an idea I took from some out in San Francisco intended for entrepreneurs to meet and share ideas with each other, and build community and help with each other. Jeremy, who bootstrapped the very successful and profitable himself, mentioned he had a better idea, and soon after announced a really neat concept that I think could really encourage the local entrepreneur scene here in Utah to take off.

The concept is called “Launchup“. When I spoke with Jeremy, he compared the idea of Launchup to a “community barn-raising for entrepreneurs.” Jeremy, a very down-home, outdoorsy guy himself, shared the story of how in olden times communities would hold “barn-raising” events where the entire community would get together and help out the one Farmer who needed a barn built. They would often have the entire barn, with the help of every member of the community, built within a day. Those not involved would often be outcast – it was simply a responsibility of everyone in the community to help out that one businessman/farmer. This fits right in line with my “Small Community” concept I often talk about in my presentations.

Jeremy also talked about his inspiration from President Obama, who he quoted, saying in his Inaugural address, “…it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things…who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity….a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.” It was from this that Jeremy’s concept, was begun.

The idea of Launchup is simple. Get a whole bunch of entrepreneurs in a room together. Have 2 or 3 entrepreneurs present their companies to the group. Get free feedback, ideas, and suggestions from the other entrepreneurs. Jeremy calls each of the entrepreneur sessions, “Barns”, and he’s really embracing Social Media to try and promote this. All sessions will be broadcast live to the entire world via Doba’s own live broadcasting equipment (I expect this should be good – Jeremy just spent a couple weeks in India while running his company), and all can participate, whether you live in Utah or not. In this case the community raising the barn is not only Utah, but the entire Social Mediasphere itself.

On Twitter, you can chat about it with the hashtag, #launchup. I’ve talked to them about Ustream, and I think we’re working on solutions around that as well as Facebook and other platforms to ensure all can participate and share with friends. As a real-life community event, this is the essence of what Social Media is about.

The next Launchup, Wednesday (today), will be very interesting. There are 2 local startups that will be presenting. TweetBooty will be talking about “a new way to access amazing discounts and giveaways from qualified local retailers.” Entice Labs will be talking about a technology that connects employers with these “passive candidates” by placing relevant and enticing career opportunities directly in front of them. The event will kick off with an “Amp Session” with a quick presentation by Ben Peterson, who founded, and sold it in a matter of years to Spark Networks for millions. Each presenter only has 15 minutes to make their case for the audience.

This should be an interesting event for all, and knowing Jeremy (and myself being somewhat involved as well), I fully expect the most interesting startups to all be part of these. If you’re a local, I expect to see you in person there. If you’re a blogger, early adopter, entrepreneur, or just like to see cool new and interesting projects, and want to participate in helping other entrepreneurs do better (Scoble and Louis, we’d love to see you in the chat and live stream!), come join us this evening.

The Launchup event starts at 6pm MST, March 25th. You can come in person to the Doba offices at 1530 N Technology Way, Orem, UT 84097 – Canyon Park Technology Center Building D, or participate online by going to Be sure, especially if you will be there in person, to Tweet “I’m going to #LaunchUp, are you?” in order to RSVP for the event. If there is a Ustream for the event I’ll Tweet that out tomorrow as well. Come join us!