Tech bloggers weigh in on Minnebar 2012
Minnebar, our annual, semi-structured geek get-together, is becoming a tradition and a real force in the local tech community. This year's conference happened on Saturday, April 7--and two experienced tech bloggers gave their views of the confab soon after. Here are some excerpts.
Graeme Thickins, writing in Minnov8 on April 8:
Minnesota’s annual barcamp un-conference, aka Minnebar, returned for a seventh consecutive year on Saturday, April 7, and it was a blockbuster! Held again at Best Buy’s corporate headquarters in Richfield, the event attracted some 1300, the most in its history.
It just keeps getting bigger and bigger--and better! A pre-party the night before was a new, fun twist this year, held at Vic’s
, across the river from downtown Minneapolis. On Saturday, some 60 breakout sessions provided a wide array of learning and sharing experiences, along with awesome hallway discussions that were in full swing all day long--from 8:00 am all the way through the closing reception well after 6:00 pm.
Kudos to organizers Ben Edwards, Luke Francl, and Adrienne Peirce of Minnestar.org
, and their many volunteers who work so hard to make this event successful. And thanks to all the great sponsors: Code42 Software
, Fredrikson & Byron
, 8th Bridge
, August Ash
, Bloom Health
, Barcamp Tour
, Split Rock Partners
, and Ech03
It seems I say this every year, but it’s true (I’ve attended the last six annual events in their entirety): the level of energy and enthusiasm about Minnesota tech was more than I’ve ever experienced! You can just sense the growth and excitement in our tech community. And, if you’re like me, you keep meeting so many more new and amazing people--technology and business professionals who are contributing to great new startups here in Minnesota, as well as to the broader technology industry in our state. It was a pleasure to behold. I had so many excellent conversations, trust me--there isn’t enough room in this blog post to tell you about them all.
Read the full post here
Mark Gritter writing in LiveJournal on April 8:
This was the seventh Minnebar, the fourth I've attended, and the third in which I organized a session. Minnebar is an "unconference" with content driven by the attendees, although it's a bit more structured than most barcamps, with a schedule created ahead of time. But there was a whiteboard open to schedule some of the empty rooms at the last minute.
The past couple of years I've given tech talks, but I wanted a more discussion-like session this year. I decided to talk about the challenges of scaling a startup to larger numbers of people--not money, but organizational and social issues. I pinged a couple people to try to get them on a panel with me, without success, but fortunately I got two very enthusiastic and articulate people from the audience at the last minute! (That's more in the BarCamp tradition anyway.)
I had prepared about six questions and expected to spend about half the time taking audience questions. We had such a good discussion on the first couple of questions that I skipped the rest of the prepared ones, and even so we only got a couple audience questions.
I asked about building company culture and about the challenges of "releasing control" as a technical founder. There was one question from the audience about money (of course), and another question going back to the first topic and tasking about how to build a diverse company. I'm really happy with how the session went; I got some compliments afterwards and there was a reasonable amount of twitter traffic.
Nena Street presented on a "Global Robotics Innovation Park" she wants to build in Minnesota. The idea is to create a robotics campus with one or two major tenants (like ReconRobotics
) as well as space and shared facilities for startups (or an incubator) in the robotics space. There might be an educational or government partner as well. Ms. Street was looking for input from robotics entrepreneurs as to what they would want, but there were unfortunately not many in the audience. The session was thus sort of unsatisfying on both sides--the attendees wanted to get a picture that wasn't really there yet.
The session before mine was a 3-D printing demo which was very cool and well-attended. [The presenter] said that his printer required at least six times the time building it spent on fiddling and tuning. He brought a bunch of samples, including a bracelet, which was one of his experiments on finishing pieces to look less "printed," by sanding or dipping in acetone.
The last session I attended was on NoSQL [a type of data base], and while there was some interesting stuff, the large number of panelists and the long day were taking their toll, and I left a few minutes early.
One negative I heard is that there were a very large number of no-shows. There were about 1300 people registered but a few hundred did not attend. Since the number of tickets was limited, this means many people who would like to have come did not. It would be nice to keep Minnebar as a free event-- perhaps they could charge a $5 ticket fee and hand everybody who comes in a $5 bill. :) Or, with better tracking of attendee numbers they could oversubscribe. (However, many of the conference rooms were already packed!)
Read the full post here.