I also commend David Rose and Charlie for their foresight in proposing a NY Tech Community Ortganizer and look forward to seeing how the effort evolves over time.
Tony and I spoke a number of times over the course of the four week "campaign" and one of the original versions of the Manifesto that came out of that conversation was an evaluation of the State of New York Tech. It was a discussion about the factors that I thought were important to build a solid foundation for a vibrant NY Tech ecosystem.
One of the challenges I saw was the need for NY government and business to see the investment into technology as a creative act - one which has many similarities to discussions about the arts and culture in any major metropolitan area. Specifically, technology and the act of creating business is a very "creative" act - not mechanical, not formulaic - but one that has neurons firing in a similar fashion to the painters, writers, musicians and other artisans that create at the Juliard and other fine arts schools.
Far too long, people consider an IT act to be one of rote memorization - how to configure a software package, how to tune a database for optimal performance - as if it was simply a science. And it is a science - if one understands it enough - and one is able to unconsciously perform the task enough. Science is able to explain how we can apprecaite specific chords of music - how frequencies combined cause a reaction to one's mind, how specific color combinations can be appealing to most - but the science does not get in the way of the art of creation. Which is why technology - programming - should be considered an art as well.
By investing in these arts - on understanding the architecture of code, the notes of operators, the chords of functions and the symphony of a web application - we allow for others to create and educate others to develop grand pieces of music that can also fill our soul. Connect us in ways we have never thought possible.
But to do that, we need to support these artists - programmers, engineers and entrepreneurs alike. Not to give them a formula to do - step by step - but the hand up when they need it, the connection to the right person when it is the right time to act. Gladwell's book "Outliers" talks about the opportunities that people like Bill Gates and Bill Joy had when building their careers - and I think it is time to perform a social act of support and kindness as well.
Three Hours a Week, Every Week
Listening to the NYTM discussion of October 21st, a gentleman in the meeting suggested that people within the community consider contributing time or their services in a barter-like system - to support other companies in the community. Some people seemed not to like the idea, but I was intrigued. And, if I had been elected to the NYTM post, I might have implemented something to that effect.
In 1997, when I was in grad school, I had met a man who was the CTO of a small startup that also happened to have been a very knowledgeable libertarian. We lived six blocks from each other and there was a bagel joint in the middle of those six blocks. Every couple of days, like clockwork, I would bring someone from Stanford and he would bring someone from his network and we would talk about some new business idea that we had heard about or learned. It was there that the first seeds of First Tuesday was formed, where the idea for Goto.com was discussed and debated, and where the guys from what was to become Paypal and I first met. There are untold other impacts that were generated from these "Internet Breakfasts" - both in learnings from the guests and the ongoing dialogue I would have with my friend Scott.
Nicholas Butterworth is also offering a similar effort over by NYU - and I have a particular love affair with my favorite grocery store in the UWS.
I am going to have another set of Internet Entrepreneur breakfasts - where I promise to give up to three hours every week to simply discuss technology and starting up companies with whomever can join. Personally, I think three or four people is plenty to have these breakfasts - and will more than likely set up a service to allow people to schedule to join us.
I'll more than likely start with two breakfasts a week - and move to three or get others to share the idea. I do this now, on an informal basis - helping friends and other people with their business problems. If you allow me, I will write up about your business and/or your needs on a blog (maybe this one) to help both publicize your company and seek out people to help you beyond a simple discussion at breakfast.
Will this raise you money? No clue.
Will we solve your business problem? Not sure.
Will we get a dialogue going? At least 75% of the time.
When I charge clients for my service, I get about $150 to 250 an hour for consulting - and solving these kind of problems for business. I consider that anyone that is part of this discussion process is also expending that kind of energy. Respect for each other, and respect for the process is asked.
If you are interested in being part of this - simply comment below, and I will get back to you.