Friday, November 14, 2008

Ignite Columbus Rocked!!

This was originally posted on

Here is link to the presentations from Ignite Columbus -

Well we did it. We pulled off our first Ignite Columbus event this evening at the Columbus Robotics Society in Grandview. To say it was awesome would be an understatement. We had about 45 folks show, 15 presenters present a wide range of exciting ideas intermixed between pizza, robots, the chumby, spiked cider and cold drinks. Conversation and chatter ran wild as people met for the first time twitter or no twitter. I saw a lot of new faces, new to social media, new to this evolving scene and a few old friendly faces from Startup Weekend.

The rules of Ignite are pretty simple, there are none- other than 20 slides, 15 seconds a slide, 5 minutes for your skinny, your big idea. Get up, present!

After each presentation we had quick Q&A and then rolled onward to the next presenter.

The venue was PERFECT! Scott Preston aka @scottpreston on twitter, owner and organizer of the Columbus Robotics Society has what is essentially a really big garage, filled with hardware and supplies to teach anyone and everyone how to make robots.

How fitting would it be to have our first Ignite in a garage I thought. Its perfect. Not too big, not too small, underground, sure, risky, yep, love it. I loved the large garage door being open the whole event.. (personally I tend to run pretty hot, cool air is always nice) I did see @jodyNcolumbus and a few other gals feel a bit chilly- sorry about that ladies. Even still the garage atmosphere really lent our first Ignite that vibe of, wham bam DIY love. It was natural, cool and chill. No assumptions, come as you are. That was perfect. Its you, some people you don’t know, and maybe a sip or two of spiked cider provided by @serota.

A few people asked me tonight, why Ignite?

After coming off the incredible high of Startup Weekend back in July I was more hopeful than ever that a unconference event like Ignite could occur, but I also didn’t want all the red tape of organizing an event so large, so big, so massive that the process of creating it sort of snuffed the will to do so. And for those of you wondering “what the hell is an unconference“, an unconference is a new term for a kind of impromptu event. Not all unconferences are alike, Ignite has a bit of structure to it, but it also doesn’t take it so seriously yet it can still draw a crowd, manifest some magic and get it going. Unconferences are born out of gatherings and meetings where people just came together to share ideas, or do code-a-thons where programmers meet in an evening just make stuff. The un- pun is all about the fact there is no set agenda, no lecture to be had, you will not get told x, y, z, before the event. The event unfolds live as you experience it. What matters most surfaces to the top and people express it. Some day I’ll do one of those unconferences where its just a big blank white board, and the first day people just go up to it and write down what they want give a talk on, the conference with no theme finds a theme in the first few hours of the event and so on.

Ignite’s format was simple, and really geared just to foster a fun quick evening of ideas. I love ideas. I love quick bursts of oh thats cool, next. I knew that @wyliemac had organized Startup Weekend, and I mentioned to him this idea of doing an Ignite. I also wanted to do an event that was nationally recognized even if it was a bit underground in concept. Nationally recognized because Columbus deserved it- Seattle, Boston, Silicon Valley.. ya ya ya, well hey gang, here comes Columbus, scoot over.

Some folks suggested I just work with Pecha Kucha folks (another event much like Ignite), and that was ok, but didn’t stick in that I wanted to work with the passionate people I had met at Startup Weekend.

Our concept began to take steam where else but on twitter. We tweeted the concept and others joined in to help pull it off: @810harris, @fusefactory, @_arvind all chimed in. Feeling that we had some goodness here, we tapped O’Reilly Ignite organizational team, they said sure and gave us a zip file with signage and basic logos to use for the event.

Next we kicked off a few free conference calls in Calliflower, rallying the team whatever way we could. No need to meet in person, lets just chat and talk about it in a collaborative space. It worked and we even recorded the calls for anyone following our event prep to tune and catch up on what we were planning.

Then @wyliemac setup a wordpress blog, and he and I began loading it up with content. I pulled down some general background from Ignite Phoenix’s event, gave them props, modified it slightly for what we wanted to do and put it into our guidelines. As an extra bit I created a quick and dirty fun little video to help promote the event with Animoto.

By now we were essentially set on course to have Ignite. As presentations arrived from our presenters we conducted very basic PR to get the word out via twitter, cbus-techlife, meetup, majelly and on our own personal blogs or workplaces.

Coming to a close, our first Ignite was a smashing success. Presentations are on Slideshare here, and we have some pictures and video of the event that will be posted as soon as they are processed. All the people involved in the making, presenting and attending of this event need to take a bow and get ready because Ignite Columbus 2 is on the way for late January 2009! Thanks again everyone, more to come- @floozyspeak


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