- I would be interested in understanding the makeup of this group. How many businesses are traditional in nature? Retail, Dentist, Lawyer, etc? How many are manufacturing, product design, etc. How many are consulting, and services? How many are software? I ask because this the “Silicon What?” thread seems to have really hit a nerve with many of the posters of this group, and to be honest, I’ve not been following it because it doesn’t interest me. I’m not saying it is not important, just not important to me. Bijoy – do you keep some sort of stats on this group that can help answer the question above?
- On kind of the same note, I find it confusing that as a group, we benefit from knowing what each other is doing, but there is no easy way to tell all the others what we do in fear of “advertising” for our business and being reprimanded by the group administrators. I’ve continued to have log in problems with the wiki tool and the networking tool or whatever we are using these days. I like emails and can filter out information that doesn’t interest me, and therefore don’t understand why members aren’t encouraged to tell about new services they offer, product releases, general service offering, etc – especially when they join the group. Some people get around the “no advertising” rule by telling how great their company is and what they are up to, then add on to the end of that statement – looking for a CIO or CTO or whatever. I think this is kinda cheesy – but they are smart because they’ve taken advantage of a large network of people, advertised their business, and gotten a free job available ad. Is this a networking group? If so, why can’t we tell more about what we are doing? If not, why are people using this list to ask about lawyers, jobs, product offerings, etc.
- My company’s offers services on several levels can benefit many companies that have limited resources, as I’m sure that many services that all of you offer can benefit me. I don’t know how to connect to all of you… The wiki site is not used much – I’ve heard there are 500-700 members in this group – last time I logged into the wiki/networking tool, I only saw about 20 or 30 companies.
Partially in reaction to Tux's concerns and in the spirit of Kevin describing bootstrap as a group forming group, I would like to form a subgroup for B2B service providers.
The membership of this group would be limited to bootstrappers who provide services to other businesses. It would be an open group and the focus would be on helping one another provide said services. This would include referrals, partnerships, lead sharing, networking tips, coldcalling tips, etc. Within this group, members would be encouraged to share information about their services, but they would be encouraged to do so in the spirit of working with one another to improve everybody's offerings, not in the spirit of selling to each other.
Fellow bootstrappers are partners, not prospects.
I would like to start out using the SWL platform and not narrow the group to Austin only. Members would be encouraged to post a summary of their offerings and their target market(s) as an introduction.
Once we have a critical mass of Austin-based service providers, we should have face-to-face meetings. At these meetings, members would be encouraged to share their offerings with other members, but hopefully in greater depth and a more useful format than the 30-second elevator pitch.
If other people are in the B2C area or are selling products rather than services, I would encourage them to start their own group rather than diluting the focus of this one.
- Chris Garrigues, Trinsic Solutions
Bootstrap Leader Responses
- We are presently using several different systems for Bootstrap Austin. This includes some stuff that is here to stay (e.g. the wiki) and a bunch of other experiements (the Enterprise Teaming application, the Small Worlds Labs system, Stuffopolis' application, and more...)
- On your question "Is this a networking group?" The answer is no. This is a group-forming network. This is a conscious distinction, and we are moving along in this way. What is the difference? I will give you a very quick answer, that at the next meeting we can talk about more if you would like. A networking group has the expectation that everyone might network with everyone else. The real value here, though is not just networking, but in finding the subgroups that are appropriate for you, and then to get involved with those groups. (for me as an entrepreneur, this has included going to the main meetings, the International Boot Board meetings, the Web 2.0 meetings sometimes, and the Enterprise 2.0 dialogues when they happen... as well as a bunch of other things that happen randomly.) This is a critically important distinction, and this is why we are not trying to create yet another "networking group". There are several networking groups in town to be a part of.
- About advertising everone's businesses. There are now 600+ people on the Bootstrap Austin list. There are several hundreds others on the other Bootstrapping groups. It is not scalable for us all to just start dumping our "this is what we are doing" emails to everyone. I would love to know more about others busineses, because I personally spend time connecting bootstrappers... but it is not scalable to do this type of stuff. We are experimenting with the Small Worlds Labs platform... and yes, you are right, there are only a small fraction of people that have decided to do so at this time. It will be great to have more people do this. If you are passionate about having this happen, where you can read about more people's profiles, I suggest that you support the initiative to getting more people to fill out their profiles.
- About what I see missing: I have not seen you at the last 5 main meetings. I am not saying that you were not there, but that I did not see you there... if you really want to know more about what people are doing in Bootstrap Austin (and who you might network with), come to a few main Bootstrap Austin main meetings. Getting together, more than anything else, has been the strongest way to meet others in the main group (and then figure out which subgroups that you want to participate in to get the value of doing the "networking" that you are looking for.) This is just a suggestion- Also, at the next meeting, it would be great to have you involved in organizing a group of people to get more people filling out profiles, or suggesting what the best way to do so, and building a coalition of people to build the system (suggestions alone are not enough to make any initiative to happen... and this, again, is why I personally ask that we don't try to generally discuss stuff on this main list... but instead we advertise where activity is happening ( e.g. "i am working on this bootstrap subproject over here... and I am looking for someone to help out") or talk with one of the bootstrap leaders so that you can get linked into another group of people that are taking action on a similar project. I really don't see a computer based way to take out this human element.