Startup Camp: Get Your Game On - InformationWeek

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5/6/2008
01:12 AM
Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson
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Startup Camp: Get Your Game On

It just so happens that more startups fail than succeed. It just so happens that startups have more ideas before breakfast than most of us have in our lifetime; it's just that sometimes they don't wake up until lunch. It just so happens that startup founders can be a little eccentric (and passionate and blindly brilliant and single-minded and stubborn).

It just so happens that more startups fail than succeed. It just so happens that startups have more ideas before breakfast than most of us have in our lifetime; it's just that sometimes they don't wake up until lunch. It just so happens that startup founders can be a little eccentric (and passionate and blindly brilliant and single-minded and stubborn).It just so happens that this works and that the successes are more likely to change a market than buckets of money and people and buildings that weigh on more established companies like defensive and archaic body armor. For the rest of us, see, it just so happens that startups linger in some shadow, lurking, ready to divine a new way, a new idea, an old idea in a new way, a nugget of aha.

Stay with me here, because this isn't about technology, it's about your approach to business, and how the Internet keeps changing everything on you (hell, I might as well say it: on us!), and every time you think you've understood search engine optimization or you've finally read a blog, along comes some Twitter of an idea, some new Feed of opportunity, another Mash or Mesh or Cloud or Space, a Gadget, a Widget, and then where are you. Behind, that's where.

Come to a Startup Camp with me one day and see it yourself.

Let me name drop for a second. The production company for the movie Operation Dumbo Drop had to figure out how to FedEx an elephant. The next Jim Carrey movie, Yes Man, needed to re-create a telephone museum in Nebraska. The company I work for wanted to sell a sponsorship for a phone-booth-like cash machine. You might spend hours looking for special services like these for events that scale from birthday parties to film projects to hosted in-person events. But with Event City, you will be able to find it all, according to its chief cheerleader, Nolan Apostle.

Or how about the flashy Chictopia, winner of Startup Camp's Best Startup Contest in San Francisco earlier today ... it may be mostly populated by women so far, but the idea of entering your body type, your lifestyle, your gender, and determining what clothing looks good on you, or being able to follow other fashion trend-setters ... OK, well maybe this seems silly to those of us who spend our time examining our log files, but in 10 days they've gotten tens of thousands of users and several hundred registered members and they are taking advantage of all of the social interactive tools your company's executives are pushing you to advise them on.

Something closer to home? How about the Ultimate Football Network, serving the massive Fantasy Football addiction (a $1.8 billion market, that represents, I was told, $18 billion in lost corporate productivity). People spend their weeks (between games) analyzing player performance, injuries, upcoming matchup scenarios. This site combines news feeds voted on by fans (and broken down by team and by player). Fans are assigned football IQs and their ratings and sources are prioritized based on that IQ. This is aggregated crowd intelligence at its best. You know your company needs to harness this, but these guys are starting life not only with that knowledge, but the ability to execute.

There are existing businesses in each of these areas (for instance, LA411 is a local, trusted resource for what Event City does). Traditional businesses try to serve these markets, but they are too frequently incapable of thinking in new ways, mired in the muck of protecting a sacred corporate mission, or culture, or just some seemingly timeless relic of pioneers who were way ahead of their time when it was their time. The difficult truth is that you can't simply dress up the relic in the modern fashion, like Grandpa gone Hip Hop.

So get your Ruby on your Rails, or find yourself all mashed up.

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