In 2006 I moved back to Buffalo after living across the US in Austin, Denver, Houston, Manchester, Boston and more. I was running a 40-client SEO/SEM firm and writing for a relatively unknown publication called TechCrunch. Moving home I made three commitments to myself:
- This was it, I’m home for good. I want to be apart of the growth/change in this great city for the next 20+ years.
- I’m going to connect the techies in this area, so we know who we all are.
- I want tech startups in this city. It’s the now. It’s the future. Job creation will come from these new opportunities.
I set out and created this email list. We grew from 1 to over 300 now. I started Open Coffee Club in the area, a Tuesday morning meetup. I started BarCamp Buffalo in the area, which with help of others stepping up and volunteering to organize, we’ve pulled off 5 of them with 75-125 in attendance at each. Meetups have sprung out of this list. Connections have occurred. Collaboration on client projects has occurred.
I don’t want to start naming the names of the other leaders in our tech community with fear of missing someones, but if you’ve attended any of the events or meetups in this area, then you’re fully aware of these leaders that step up, encourage others to step up, and they “give before they get”, because they want to see all of this stuff for Buffalo happen. None of those things I listed above would have gone anywhere without their initial support — they showed me they wanted this stuff.
This past November eight of us pulled off Buffalo’s first ever Startup Weekend. And that’s when it hit me. Startup Weekend had the most unbelievable energy I’ve ever seen at a tech event in Buffalo. About 75 people got up in front of the crowd and pitched their own business idea for a minute. 16 teams formed and nose-dived into building a startup over the next 54 hours. Despite the long hours of preparation by all the co-organizers, we were super proud and super excited. Excited for the next one. We immediately started planning the second Startup Weekend, which is happening March 1-3, save the date!
I want to see startups in Buffalo. And I have rededicated myself to getting more events to happen in Buffalo that focus on the cool stuff being built and hacked on. This is when I picked up “Startup Communities
” by Brad Feld, in which he lays out the path that Boulder has taken over the years to become an amazing startup/tech community. If you have an interest in being apart of changing our fine city of Buffalo into a state of startup/tech awesomeness, I highly recommend reading this book. It’s a rolling 20-year outlook. It’s a “give before you get” outlook of helping others. It’s a celebration of startup failures by having a “funeral” happy hour to encourage the entrepreneurs that fails are apart of the business and to get back up and try again.
Because of the smaller size of Buffalo, you can do something and have an impact. The time is NOW with all the success that is going on in Buffalo — Synacor’s IPO over the summer, CampusLabs acquired, the creation of Z80 Labs w/$5.3mm fund for investing in tech startups, the success of TEDxBuffalo, the success of Startup Weekend, the launch/success of CoWorkBuffalo, Buffalo Billion, and much much more!
On the heels of this excitement, maintaining that energy and complementing that focus… I have setup a schedule of Tech Events in Buffalo for all of 2013. It’s an introduction of 5 brand new tech events to the area, a reboot of BarCamp (to its’ proper format as used by other cities), and more Startup Weekends. I have laid the groundwork below of a schedule. I have lined up the venues. I am working with local sponsors that we’ve worked with in the past. But I can’t lead or organize all of these events on my own. Other people have committed to stepping up, as they have in the past — Dan Magnuszewski, Dan Gigante, Mark Branden, Nicholas Barone, Jon Spitz, Eric Reich, etc. But we’re looking for more people that are interested in giving back and making this community awesome for years to come, by stepping up and participating as a leader or helper to an event.
What follows is a brief introduction to these events. We are seeking a couple dozen leaders, co-organizers, and volunteers for: Buffalo New Tech Meetup, Geek Givings Night, Buffalo Beta, BarCamp Buffalo (rebooted!), Ignite! Buffalo, and Buffalo Startup Weekend.
We need a dedicated individual (or two) driving the bus for each of these, or stuff won’t get done. A team leader should be committed in some capacity to attending each of their events throughout the year. We also need people (co-organizers) willing to support the leaders for each event.
Buffalo New Tech Meetup
is a night the local community gets together to network, socialize and show-and-tell new technology. Five preselected presenters are given five minutes each with five minutes of Q&A from the crowd. The focus is to spread the word about what is going on in town and to provide a place to break bread and have beer with friends. Monthly, 6-9pm, 1st Wed of every month @ Pearl St Brewery. Dan Magnuszewski is seeking co-organizers.
Geek Givings Night is a night of multiple local for- & non-profit organizations presenting New Tech style, but with a twist. Once all of the groups are finished on the podium (they each get two minutes instead of the typical five minutes to present) they split up into tables at Z80 Labs and start hacking. The tech community helps the local businesses on tech issues ranging from web design to social media help, database support to graphic design, and everything in-between. Quarterly, 6-9pm, 3rd Wed of Feb/May/Aug/Nov @ Z80 Labs. Seeking a leader and co-organizers. Count on Steve Poland and Dan Magnuszewski as co-organizers.
Buffalo Beta is Buffalo’s Premier Startup Mixer. Buffalo Beta is a quarterly get-together for founders, hackers, students, investors, designers, visionaries, media professionals, and more. You can expect socializing with friends and colleagues and meeting new people from throughout the entrepreneurial community. No formal presentations – just informal, ongoing demos from awesome young companies and lots of time to enjoy each other’s company. Startups each get a table to demo their goods. Quarterly, 6-9pm, 2nd Wed of Jan/Apr/July/Oct @ Pearl St Brewery. Seeking a leader and co-organizers. Count on Steve Poland and Dan Magnuszewski as co-organizers.
BarCamp Buffalo (rebooted!) is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. BarCamp Buffalo is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees. No spectators, only participants. All attendees should give a demo, a session, or help with one. Thus, the content is provided by participants. This is called sharing and we like it. Anyone with something to contribute or with the desire to learn is welcome and invited to join. Note: If you attended a prior BarCamp Buffalo, we lacked space and had altered the format — expect the real deal now that we have lots of space (30-min presentations, multiple presentations in different rooms at every moment to give you greater choices). Quarterly, 8am-5pm, 1st Sat of Feb/May/Aug/Nov @ Medaille College Buffalo Campus. Interim leader Steve Poland. Seeking a leader and co-organizers. Count on Steve Poland, Dan Magnuszewski, Charles Wertz, Nick Quaranto, and Sean Zawicki as co-organizers.
Ignite Buffalo is a night of presentations with a twist. Presenting on a subject of their choice, speakers have exactly 5 minutes to teach something, enlighten us, or simply inspire — backed by 20 slides auto-advancing every 15 seconds. Quick, fun, and smart. Quarterly, 6-9pm, 2nd Wed of Mar/June/Sept/Dec @ Pearl St Brewery. Seeking a leader and co-organizers. Count on Steve Poland and Dan Magnuszewski as co-organizers. Mike Canzoneri very interested in leading or co-leading.
Buffalo Startup Weekend is a weekend dive into starting a business. Anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers on Friday night. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54-hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekend culminates with presentations on Sunday evening in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback. Whether entrepreneurs found companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups! If you want to put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, get ready for the best weekend of your life! Quarterly, 1st weekend of Mar/June/Sept/Dec @ Medaille College Buffalo Campus. Jon Spitz leading, co-organizers of Steve Poland, Dan Magnuszewski, Charles Wertz, Dan Gigante, Lisa Primerano, and Mark Branden. Seeking 8-10 volunteers and co-organizers.
7-Week Startup Buffalo is a community accelerator where teams collaborate to launch a startup over the course of seven Saturdays. The program welcomes individuals or established teams at the idea/prototype stage to pitch their business goals and form teams at the start of each 7-week session. Brunch is provided every Saturday as a speaker presents a topic on startup building and mentors the teams. Feedback is also provided every week by peers. The seventh Saturday culminates with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback. Quarterly, 2nd Sat (& six subsequent Saturdays) of Mar/June/Sept/Dec @ Z80 Labs. Co-leaders Dan Gigante and Chris Castleman. Seeking co-organizers.
Already Planned 2013 Events:
- Jan 11, 2013 (tonight! 4:30pm-7pm) – 7 Week Startup @ Z80 Labs
- Feb 1, 2013 (Fri 6pm-9pm) – BarCamp Buffalo Kick-Off Happy Hour @ Z80 Labs
- Feb 2, 2013 (Sat 8am doors, 9am-5pm) – BarCamp Buffalo @ Medaille College
- Feb 2, 2013 (Sat 5pm-?) – BarCamp Buffalo After-Party @ Cole’s
- Feb 28, 2013 (Thurs 6pm-9pm) – Buffalo Startup Weekend Kick-Off Happy Hour @ Z80 Labs
- March 1-3, 2013 (Fri 5pm doors, 7pm-2am) – Buffalo Startup Weekend @ Medaille College
- March 3, 2013 (Sun 8:30pm-?) – Buffalo Startup Weekend After-Party @ Founding Father’s
More events are in the works: Buffalo I/O (led by Dan Magnuszewski, he’s seeking co-organizers — reach out to him), Creative Mornings (led by Nicholas Barone), a Ruby conf (led by Nick Quaranto), and please let me know of any other event initiatives.
We have an ambitious plan that cannot be accomplished without dedicated volunteers to lead the effort. You will be responsible for the success of the event and showcasing what our community has to offer. You will be looked upon as a leader in the tech community — a representative to our officials and media to let them know what is being accomplished — and, therefore, I am asking for those willing to be the drivers behind the growth of the Western NY entrepreneurial scene to contact me for further information on how you can contribute.
For the rest of you, we’re going to need you to be cheerleaders, egging these leaders, co-organizers and local financial supporters on so you can enjoy these events!
Please take 2 minutes and answer the questions in this form if you’d like to help see any of the events happen: http://bit.ly/UHjlmd
P.S. Please share this post with any Buffalo friends that you think these initiatives would be of interest to — whether it be a non-profit for Geek Givings Night, a techie, an entrepreneur, or an ex-pat. Thank you.