Speaking at OKDG

(Me talking about the concept behind LTU.)

On Tuesday night I gave a short talk for the Okanagan Developer Group about my experience starting Lining Things Up and 5 topics that often come up when I talk to entrepreneurs. I thought it went pretty well. I wish I could have met with more people afterwards, but there is always next time. This was my first time attending an OKDG meeting, and since I was a presenting I couldn’t mingle as much as I would have liked.

The 5 topics in question:

  1. Starting
  2. Location
  3. Community
  4. Funding
  5. Work/life balance

The shirt in question

Name my space blog

I have spent the last week diving into material on space exploration (see this previous post as to why). There is a ton of stuff out there and I would like to start posting thoughts and resources. I think there would be too much for this personal blog, so I have decided the best thing to do is setup another blog.

But I need help. It is the most difficult part in starting anything: a name.

I have come up with a few rough ideas. Please vote in the following poll for which ones you think expresses my desire to find a way to disrupt space exploration and science funding through a more startup-style, lean, etc. method.

I am looking for something that isn’t vague, maybe a call to action. Something that if I tell a random person they will have some idea of what my mission is. Don’t worry entrenaut.com , innospace.com and spacequest.com are all taken so the cheese factor is already out.

In the poll there is a space for your suggestions too. Thanks!


Profile of a hustler: Instantbight.com

David Silverman is the blogger behind instantbight.com, popularized recently for his simple 5 Question Interviews of technorati. Looking at the list you might recognize some people that I mention from time to time: Horace Dediu, Craig Mod, Ethan Marcotte and Dan Adams for example. David has been publishing these short interviews about one a day since mid-April. It is a pretty ambitious project by a guy with some inspirational initiative.

Did I mention he is in Grade 8?

I reached out to David and we decided to interview one another (here’s mine). Below are my 5 Questions to him. If you want to learn more about David , I recommend you check out his interview with Apple pundit Philip Elmer-DeWitt (one of his first interviewees) for CNN. There you can learn more about why he started the site and the story behind the name of his blog.

Instantbight.com logo

Q. After 3 months, how much feedback are you getting from your interviews nowadays?

Nowadays I get an average of 350 views daily. When I have a very high-profile person doing an interview with me I get upwards of 500. On the day that the CNN Money Article came out, I got around 4,000 views which was insane. All of the comments, and feedback have been positive and very helpful! I love all of my readers, and would love to talk to anyone who wants to talk to me.

Q. What interests you most about the tech world right now?

I find the tech world fascinating for a bunch of reasons. For one I am really an Apple fanboy so all of their product announces and presentations captivate me from the first signs on the rumor mills. Another reason I like the tech world is for it’s attitude. Everyone I have interviewed is so passionate and enthusiastic about their work. I really am excited about the world I am coming into and can’t wait to really get involved.

Q. Which is better and why: work for a big company like Apple or Google someday or have your own startup?

That is an amazing question. I think that if I was every offered a real, “high-up” position in Apple I would take it in a mili-second. I would not want to work for Google, at all, but I won’t get into that now. I would also really like to start my on business. I really like starting things, and leading a team.I feel that I am pretty creative so I would like to make a company that would really wow the tech world. Who knows maybe in a few years, there will be an instantbight inc.

Q. Do you have a business or product idea in mind?

For a long time before instantbight.com, I was thinking of investing time in starting a social network solely for kids ages 10-18. The network would be very entrepreneurially minded, and the focus would be on collaborating with other kids on possible business ideas. I think that kids have an edge that adults don’t on making great ideas and businesses. I would still love to do it now, so if anybody reading this is interested…let me know!

Q. What are your favourite podcasts?

I love The Critical Path with Horace Dediu. He is maybe the smartest guy I know and is so articulate. Every single one of his shows keeps my focus(which is tough with my teenage attention span.). I love how he gives real, cold, hard facts for all of his statements. I also really liked The Talk Show with John Gruber before, he broke up with Dan Benjamin. I am still not sure what that’s all about but I loved the show when they were together. Very funny.

Big Idea: Financing Space Exploration

I was up late last night and began to consider the problem of funding for scientific research. After learning about disruption theory last year I often look around and think about possibilities of disruption. Big science is ripe for it.

Because of my lifelong love of the mysteries of the cosmos I am particularly interested in space exploration. With the decline of NASA this is a very timely issue. Traditionally science and technology research has been funded with public money and guided by military concerns, particularly in the area of space exploration. Since the end of the Cold War public funding of science has been cut back year after year. Is there a better model?

In the startup space we spend a lot of our time thinking about business models, product-market fit, market experimentation, bootstrapping, etc. I love working on the next big app as much as the next guy, but there are bigger issues in the world. Bigger ideas.

If public funding for space exploration is getting sparse (or is politically difficult to access), what are the alternatives? Corporate sponsorship? Bake sales? Microryza and Petridish.org are using a crowd-funding model similar to Kickstarter. Or can we do an end-run around funding and figure out other ways to support research. For example, leverage the consumerization of research technology, spare CPU cycle donation, etc. It seems to me that an entrepreneurial mind could come up with a novel solution to this problem.

Some of the more illustrious stars in the startup constellation (specifically Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos) have taken space private using their massive fortunes. Although a great contribution, this is more evolutionary than revolutionary. True disruptions tend to be cheap and simple.

I am not proposing that we should figure out how to make a cheaper, better space probe (though somebody should be doing that), but I think we could use our entrepreneurial creativity to come up with alternative funding models for scientific and space research.

Over the next while I will learn more about this topic to see what work has gone before. I reached out to Neil deGrasse Tyson (hero!) who has been arguing the case for space for a long time. My next read is Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight. If you know of any resources please leave a comment, get me on G+ tweet me or use the contact form at the bottom of my site.

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