I had just finished up a panel where one of the smarter start up guys out there (Jason Fried of 37Signals) and I had a panel discussion about VCs and Start Ups. I made the point about Canada being an amazing place to start up a company while Jason made an almost impassioned plea to staying the heck out of Silicon Valley. He pointed out he was in Chicago; doing just fine, thank you. I pointed out talent is amazing in Canada and besides getting a little rah rah, basically gave the same message; the valley is not the only show in town.
Then it was off the airport, barely climbing into my seat for a trip to Seattle.
Being in that frame of mind, I crack open the current edition of Business 2.0.
[side note: Old habits die hard. I actually get it via Zinio and forgot; bought the paper version]
The editor’s opening message was how he had given the whole staff a day off. That day off came with the direction that everybody run down from San Francisco to “the Valley” in a breathless attempt to see what the center of the idea universe is going to bring us. This was, of course, the big cover story. The valley is going to save the day, lead the charge, etc.
I’ve got nothing against Silicon Valley start ups or Venture Capitalist who feed there. Heck, I look to most of those VC guys for advice and guidance on many things. But when you look at the connected world we live in today, look at all the problems looking for solutions, and look at all the smart people each of are getting exposed to because of blogging, email, forums, etc, you have to ask the obvious question; aren’t there other great places with smart people doing world changing stuff that could use support, exposure, etc? I’m proud to be from my birth country (U.S.A) but there just has to be more out there.
So, I’m packing a bag, a camera and I’m going to go around the world and take a look.
The objectives of this little trip? Glad you asked:
1. Get more ideas, more solutions for problems, more funding ideas from smart people.
2. Give lots of entrepreneurs a chance to talk to ‘a suit’ for some feedback and a little plug in my (very) small corner of the blogging world.
3. Promote Canada as a great place to set up shop. This is an amazing country and I think one of the best places in the world to have a business. While certainly web services and other Internet businesses can be on an island (with good connectivity), the quality of life, people, business ethics, government programs, etc, all make Canada a super place for business. I know it sounds all rah rah and corny but there you go.
4. Get to know more smart people. This is probably the single most important item on the list. You can never know enough smart people and there isn’t enough time on the planet to meet em all, so I need to get started. Yeah, corny line number two but there you go.
5. Do some evangelism/sales for a couple of my portfolio companies. I don’t do much talking about my portfolio companies in this blog because I don’t want to come off as hawking them or this blog being an advertisement for companies I work with. On this road trip, I’m going to try and help with various projects a number of them have going. It will save them some money and I’m happy to dig in and help with the various company efforts.
Bringing the brains along.
My father once told me the smartest thing I could do was always hang out, hire, and pay attention to, smarter people then me. Therefore, I’m going to crack open the frequent flyer miles vault and invite Shel Israel to tag along. Shel clearly falls into the smarter people then me group and I’m honored that he has agreed to come. Lots of people will be enriched by spending some quality time with him.
What you can do: Meet up!
Spread the worldwide word and let us know where you are and if you’d like to get together to tell us what’s happening in your part of the world. Link love to all your worldwide friends, folks, and let’s see if we can’t get a truly global start up camp of sorts happening.
I’ll be posting the schedule of places shortly but the block of time is August 11th – September 3rd. If you can recommend some places to visit, schools doing cool stuff, people we should talk to, places we should see and/or you want to get a group together and talk about start ups, blogging, venture capital, etc, we’d love to hang out with you and will try to fit in everything we can.
A little blogging, pod casts, and idea sharing on a global basis. Yep, should be fun and I’m looking forward to meeting you in person.
Note to Canada: Don’t flame me, I’m planning a Canadian road show of VC/Start Up things for the fall along with some other VCs.