At one point today I pulled out my phone expecting to see the clock ticking around 10:00 AM, but I was floored to see it was past 12 noon. Where did the first half of the day go? Time really does fly when you're having fun, and the Denver Startup Week content was, obviously, fixating.
Everything began with the “How To Write Killer Copy And Connect With Customers” session at Galvanize. In fact, it was hosted by a crew of Galvanize’s own: Mark Saldana – Marketing Manager, Bo Moore – Storyteller and former WIRED writer, and Dynelle Abeyta – Content Producer.
According to them, there's content that get noticed and then there’s content that get swept under the rug. Further, they say a lot of the content getting passed over has to do with founders thinking every iota of information coming from their startup is interesting.
The content you produce is just as much for you as it is your audience, so steer clear of the hard sell of your company. After all, people will spend an average of 15 minutes reading your content, and time is money – don’t waste it.
Going off of that, the real question to ask here is: what are you supposed to focus on? The Galvanize crew offered an interesting solution in the form of a content hypothesis.
This post will help _____________ learn how to _____________ and should result in ____________ page views.
That's only the tip of the iceberg though: you have to consider what your audience cares about, what your audience wants to learn how to do, and what content can help them achieve their goals. By integrating these questions into your process you'll notice a definite uptick in audience engagement.
From there it was on to “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys: Successes & Strategies For Anxiety Tolerance In Entrepreneurship”, led by Matthew LeBauer, LCSW. It was an interesting panel topic because avoiding anxiety and burnout is something that entrepreneurs routinely face in their day to day lives.
After all, it’s incredibly difficult to foresee all the challenges that are coming your way when starting up. Not to mention, a lot of these challenges will stand in firm opposition to your core competency as an entrepreneur.
So, how do you deal with it all? One of the panelists likened it to his days running the hurdles for his track team.
When you first start out, the hurdles look too high and you think constantly about getting over them, one after another. However, the more you practice, the less intimidating the hurdles look, and you’ll find your mind occupied on simply running through the as fast as you can.
In other words, you shouldn’t view your problems as problems. Rather, these are opportunities to change and they’re a good thing to have in your life. Everything is about attitude, and if you view problems as opportunities you’ll see it’s simply a way to get creative with your problem solving skills.
Next on my docket for the day was to drop in on Chris Oltyan, Application Development Director at Aetna Health, and his presentation about “How to Make Fun” at the Commons on Champa. By far, this was the most interactive event I've been to all week so far.
Oltyan focused everything on the idea that sometimes things simply aren't fun – his presentation was anything but that, chalk full of humor and cats. Still, it's a seemingly simple concept to consider but pretty difficult to dig into. How do you make fun?
That is, everything Oltyan talked about resonated with the idea that gamification in and of itself isn’t a guarantee that something will be fun. It's actually a tool that's used to help make something fun.
Outside of that, entrepreneurs need to identify and remove the things that aren’t fun with their UX, UI, or content strategy. That is, it’s not about adding features but rather cutting the bad out, and you’ll know what’s not fun if you pay attention to yourself and your diverse network of supporters and coworkers – what Oltyan refers to here as the ‘wisdom of crowds'.
Some pointers to help out: take the path of least resistance, leverage the hell out of what you already know, and don’t overextend yourself. In this way you can master your own medium and focus on the importance of your product: building fun into it.
He left us with these final words: if your piece of crap product is gamified, it will still be a piece of crap. We all have a common language of emotion, so you need to explicitly define what you want people to feel via your product.
To wind the day down and wrap up I went on over to Chase Basecamp to hear Dr. Sean Wise and Brad Feld detial their “Excellent Canadian Adventure“. They took a five day journey around Canada to meet the various entrepreneurs and companies that contribute to the growing, robust Canadian startup culture.
As Wise might say, jokingly, they wanted to show that Canada was more than just putine and hockey. They flew from Winnipeg to Waterloo, then to Ottawa before finishing up in Toronto and Montreal.
Along the way two things were reinforced for Wise and Feld. First, the dynamic culture around startup communities and companies we see here in America has absolutely crossed the Northern US border and worked its way into Canada. Second, the culture of inclusiveness in Canada, while similar to Denver, is virtually unmatched anywhere else.
What really blows my mind about Denver Startup Week is that, despite having over 215 events, sessions, keynotes, and panels planned, everything seems to go off without a hitch. So, after day two, I wanted to salute the hard work of all the people behind the scenes who operate the light boards, setup the events, and keep the schedule flowing forward – without them none of us could enjoy this rich content. Thank you to all, I'm looking forward to yet another fun filled day.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a Startup Week content series brought to you by Chase for Business. Startup Week is celebration of entrepreneurs in cities around the globe. Chase for Business is everything a business needs in one place, from expert advice to valuable products and services. Follow the Startup Week action here as we head to 7 cities in the coming months.
Image Credit: I took all photos in this article