Durango Tech is a loosely knit, informal group of folks who live in the Durango and Four Corners area and have an interest in tech. You don't have to be a geek - if you are an entrepreneur, investor, business owner, teacher, then you have a reason to stay current on technology. We are also passionate about drawing techies to the Durango area, and giving them options once they are here to be successful and thrive locally. Jump in!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Some important deadlines for entrepreneurial techies

OK, for those of you with startup ambitions, here are a couple of upcoming opportunities.

    Venture Capital in the Rockies and Invest Southwest

First, applications are now being accepted for Venture Capital In The Rockies Fall 2011 lineup. VCIR is held twice per year and is the region's oldest and best attended venture capital conference. VCIR features companies located in the Rocky Mountain region and the Fall event will showcase the region’s most promising emerging growth companies for an audience of hundreds of venture investors, CEOs, entrepreneurs and service professionals. In addition to highlighting the region's most compelling companies.

They are inviting companies from the entire Rocky Mountain region (CO, UT, NM, WY, MT, NV, ID, AZ) to submit to present at Invest Southwest -VCIR Fall 2011. Submitting companies must fill out the form on this link PRESENTER APPLICATION for consideration. Submissions are rated by a team of reviewers who consider factors such as the strength of the business idea, size of the target market, past performance of the company, future prospects of the business, quality of the management team and appropriateness of the business for the audience represented at the conference. We anticipate selecting 12 -15 presenting companies as well as one or two alternates. The focus of the conference is on information technology, clean technology and alternative energy, consumer products, internet services and life sciences.

Submissions are due by September 1, however, companies will be selected on a “rolling admissions” basis. As a result, we encourage applicants to submit early. Companies that are selected to present will receive one free pass to the conference as well as the opportunity to by additional passes at a reduced price.

If you have any questions about the process please send an email to nanette@rockymountainvca.com

Also, there is only one week left to apply to TechCrunch DisRupt SF Startup Battlefield. Hopeful founders and entrepreneurs will submit their young, unseen startup companies for the opportunity to launch on technology’s biggest stage in front of an all-star panel consisting of the biggest innovators, angels, VCs and influencers in the Tech community. Up for grabs is the $50,000 prize and the coveted “Disrupt Cup,” and new open doors. Submit your applications here.

I would love to hear if any team from Durango submits to these events - let me know and good luck!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Our 'Cool Stuff Showcase' Line Up!

Be sure to join us for the first Durango Tech 'Cool Stuff Showcase'
When: Thursday March 31, 5 - 6:30PM

This is a chance for local technology entrepreneurs to show off some of the cool stuff that they have been working on, and to gain valuable feedback and support from the Durango Tech community.

Each of these brave souls will spend 5 minutes presenting their cool stuff, after which we spend 10 minutes as a group giving them feedback and suggestions. There will be a 'reception' at the end where you can get one on one with the presenters.

Oh - did we mention beer? We will set up a bar with beer, coffee, water and maybe a light snack with a donation jar to cover the costs. 

Cool Stuff Showcase #1 - Robin Johnson

Who I Am
I taught myself to program Java when I was 16 and was interested in artificial intelligence applications. My attention shifted to social peer-to-peer networking applications when I was first exposed to the original Gnutella application back in 2000.  This led to my involvement with Sun Microsystems' Project JXTA, where I met Scott Capdevielle, who, along with Dr. Jim Youssef in Durango, was starting a medical collaboration software company called Syndicom.  I moved from Minnesota to Durango in 2003 to work for Syndicom and have been doing so ever since.  When Syndicom scaled down its operation 6 months ago, I began to have more spare time which I used as an opportunity to begin work on RiverFlows.

My Cool Thing

RiverFlows is an Android application for viewing real-time river conditions.  The target market is mainly outdoorsmen; however farmers, ranchers, and hydrologists have also expressed interest in the app.  In the months since the first beta was made available on the Android Market, RiverFlows has been downloaded some 2000 times and several potential competitor apps have appeared.  I'm currently working on support for retrieving forecasts from NOAA's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service.  After that is completed, I plan to start work on a "deluxe" version of the app that I can sell in the Android Market.

Cool Stuff Showcase #2 - Adam Fries

Who I am
Adam Fries has been an entrepreneur for the last ten years.  His passion, business education and varied experience has given him the ability and determination to be successful in different industries. This experience ranges from market analysis of the printed circuit board industry to establishing a forklift distributorship in Guadalajara, Mexico.  His current position is president of Sun Peak Builders, which is a leading alternative home builder in Durango.

My Cool Thing
Adam will discuss providing high quality and consistent information to medical marijuana patients.  This can be obtained through meaningful relationships with these individuals. This solution will enable patients with specific illnesses to make informed decisions regarding therapy options.  Many patients will benefit from an increase in quality of life.

Cool Stuff Showcase #3 - Matthew Ozvat

Who I Am
Matt, Bobby and Kevin are Durango technologists who have a passion for developing creative entrepreneur solutions.  We meet regularly every Wednesday night with beer, pretzels and laptops while speaking binary. Of course, skiing and mountain biking help keep us honest while living in the mountains.

My Cool Thing
Pic2Pay is a way for you to make a purchase online without ever having to enter your shipping, billing and payment information. By downloading the Pic2Pay app and entering your personal information once, from that time on you can purchase online goods from any vendor that offers Pic2Pay, with a snap of a picture.

Cool Stuff Showcase #4 - Larry Leonard

Who I Am
Growing up in the flatlands of Ohio, my first experience of the mountains of Colorado was a motorcycle trip in the late 60's with a couple of buddies -- Easy Rider style without the shooting. I was hooked but wondered how a city kid could make a living near wilderness. While getting degrees in Mathematics and Finance I discovered computers and my answer. I have lived in Durango for 25 years writing software for financial and communications applications. My clients seldom realize when I take their support call that I am on a mountain bike, skis, or sitting outside a tent.

My Cool Thing
Many software developers dream of writing a pure app that sells for a few cents apiece to millions of users. The reality is that far more opportunities require a human element – fielding tech support calls or sales inquiries and billing questions. The stumbling block for a new venture is that you might have no calls one day and 50 the next including evenings and weekends. You may not have expertise in these areas yourself much less be able to train employees, even if you could afford them. Our service incubator center will allow you to hire help instantly on a per-minute basis rather than monthly salaries. As a tool for entrepreneurs and venture capital providers alike, we enable you to develop a new prototype concept and when ready, seamlessly go national.

Cool Stuff Showcase #5 - Walker Thompson

Who I Am
Most importantly, a Durango native! Also has do some stuff as, or masquerading as, co-founder of SocialTransactions, VP Sales and Marketing at WhenToManage, The Rock Lounge Owner, very part-time barista, SKA beer junkie, Facebook'er, mountain biker, climber, writer and ex-spiritual advisor to Charlie Sheen.

My Cool Thing
Have you ever recommended a product or service to your friend? Yes? Then you know how to use SocialTransactions. Our concept is simple... You advocate for the things you like on Facebook, Twitter, a blog or your website (for the fancy types). Sometimes your friends buy... Ever thought, "Gee, I should get paid for that!?!?!?" With SocialTransactions, you will. And it is easy. You just add a link to the keywords that people might click on. If, for example, you want to link to a product on a mountain biking website, say, SpecializedBike, you add the link, your friends click, they buy, you get paid! YAY! ABSOLUTELY NO CHANGE IN WHAT YOU ARE DOING! And your favorite brands will be psyched, because they are only paying when a sale is made - better than Google adwords!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Calling all entrepreneurs who need money

... as if that isn't a redundant statement!
Last week, as a result of our Herald article, I heard from The Community Foundation Serving SW Colorado. They are one of nearly 650 foundations across the country that are set up by people, corporations and families and are dedicated to improving the quality of life in a specific area, county or region.
It is a tax-exempt public charity that allows people or organizations to establish permanent endowments funds and gift funds within one large foundation and it offers inexpensive, value-added way to establish a family named foundation. The income from these funds, and the principal if the donor desires, is available to respond to emerging community problems and opportunities.
They are currently wrapping up their next grant cycle and are looking for entrepreneurial initiatives that grow jobs and the quality of life in our area. The grants range in size from $10,000 to $100,000. The concept proposal submission deadline is April 1, so act now. 
Elizabeth Marsh from the Foundation will be at the Cool Stuff Showcase if you have additional questions, but that is the night before the deadline so don't wait until then to submit.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Almost Famous

Yesterday's Durango Herald had a great article by Emery Cowan covering our last coffee meeting and what we are all about. I think it did a great job and will hopefully lead to more people joining the ranks.

In fact, it already resulted in a contact from The Community Foundation of SW Colorado about a possible grant to help grow the group. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Marketing For Smarties Challenge

For most tech entrepreneurs, the ideas come easy but taking them to market is a challenge.

There is a SBDC backed workshop series coming up where you quickly figure out what you know and what you don't, what you need and what you can skip. The Marketing for Smarties Challenge guides you––step-by-step––through a simple, straightforward development program.

Incredibly user friendly, it provides you with all the hands-on tools you'll need.Smarties strips marketing down to the essentials so that small B2Bs can jump start leads, find business opportunities, and stay on a growth path.

 3 Sessions:  March 22, April 27, May 18, 2011
Where: Fort Lewis College, Education Business Building, Room #130
Time: 1 pm to 5 pm
Fee: $ 149.00 (there is a scholarship available - call the SBDC at the number below)
Register Now!  Space is limited.
To register for the Marketing for Smarties Challenge, contact the Small Business Development Center
- by phone: 970-247-7009
- e-mail Lynn Asano
- Register on-line here

Coaches: Jasper Welch and Marcy Mitchell

Jasper Welch  is the director of the Quality Center for Business at San Juan College, which includes the Enterprise Center (business incubator). Since 1991, Mr. Welch has operated a management consulting practice, which specializes in strategic planning, organizational development, and leadership training.
Marcy Mitchell is the owner of MTECH Internet Marketing. She has worked with hundreds of small business owners to develop marketing plans and strategies for the past 16 years. Her extensive experience in web design, copy writing, search engine optimization, PPC management, social media and internet marketing has helped many companies grow their local businesses and keep up with marketing trends.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Durango Chamber of Commerce 2010 Awards Finalists

The Durango Chamber of Commerce has announced their 2010 finalists for the various awards that they will present at their annual banquet on January 20th at FLC.

The ones that may be of most interest to Durango Tech are:

durango coloradoEntrepreneur of the Year: Durango Magazine (Julie Schultz), Creative Compass (Leanne and Mark Beasley) and Shaw Solar (John Shaw).
durango coloradoGreen Business Leadership Award: Durango Compost Company, Mantell-Hecathorn Builders Inc. and Shaw Solar

On the tech side, Buzztown is a finalist for Business of the Year.

The Durango Chamber of Commerce is a member based organization that promotes and supports the local business community. With more than 800 members, the Durango Chamber of Commerce acts as a resource of information for its members, the community, and relocation inquirers. It communicates business related issues and advocates on the behalf of its members. The chamber operates networking and educational programs all for the sake of building a stronger community and a greater quality of life.

You can follow the Chamber on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, December 13, 2010

No more Fort Lewis Computer Science Major

Last week the Herald announced that computer science, Southwest studies and agricultural science majors will be discontinued at Fort Lewis College by the end of the 2012-13 school year, according to a unanimous decision Friday by the college’s Board of Trustees. While it is unfortunate that any major is being cut, I was personally disappointed that computer science was one of the victims.

The primary reason stated was declining enrollment. If this is the case, then it is bucking the national trend. In fact, according to a recent CRA Taulbee report, the number of undergraduate students enrolled in computer science departments, and the number of new majors in computer science, have both increased for the second straight year. The number of new students majoring in computer science increased 8.5 percent over last year. The total number of majors increased 5.5 percent, yielding a two-year increase of 14 percent. Computer science graduation rates should increase in two to three years as these new students graduate.

Enrollment in computer science saw a massive decline in the early 2000's. This is attributed primarily to the implosion of the dot com era, when prospective students saw their odds of making a quick fortune in the industry disappear faster than Yahoo! profits. However, that trend has reversed, and the industry as a whole is looking good again, in no small part due to the ability for tech companies to establish themselves and operate with a lot less overhead. Investors are also flocking back to tech in the last couple of years.

Computer science jobs pay very well, right out of college. The starting pay of certain liberal arts majors generally clocks in well below that of graduates in engineering fields, according to a recent Wall Street Journal study. The survey also shows that they maintain this compensation gap throughout their careers, and that employers tend to hire these grads for what would typically be a job for a liberal arts major.

There are 2 immediate impacts as a result of this decision. First, local high school students who show an aptitude for computer science will have to go elsewhere for their post-secondary education. And secondly, there is no flow of local graduate talent that can stay in the area and get a great job.

Maybe the answer would have been to better promote these programs. Maybe Durango Tech should have come into existence sooner. Either way, let's continue to promote local tech jobs and companies, so that we create a strong voice to get this program reinstated down the road.

I would love to hear the thoughts of others on this.