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  • What happens when a university, a city and an agency collaborate to innovate? Something exceptional

    • By jennifer
    • |
    • Tuesday, December 3, 2013

     It's a rare occasion when people and institutions exceed our expectations, isn't it? And when we encounter “exceptional,” it makes a lasting impression that is worth sharing. Just recently, I had the opportunity (thanks to the project's visionary, Alex Lawrence) to attend the launch of Startup Ogden - the outcome of disparate entities truly collaborating beyond typical borders. The trip was a ton of fun and taught me some valuable lessons about community and collaboration. This startup and education facility was the result of an entrepreneurial leader's vision, a university's buy-in, a city's future thinking and the community's support. 

    startup ogden grand openingThe project, dubbed "Weber State Downtown" arrived stylishly on the scene on November 20, 2013 with the opening of this coworking + education space. It's a two-year, $3.5 million project that was the vision of Alex Lawrence, successful entrepreneur and teacher. Alex is full of passion for helping young people succeed and for his community in Northern Utah. He’s brilliant at making things happen, and this project showcased how to translate vision into collaboration between disparate parties in order to innovate for the future.

    With Alex’s leadership, Startup Ogden came to fruition due to a financial partnership rarely seen, including a university (Weber State University), a city (the City of Ogden), an economic development agency (the Governor's Office of Economic Development) and a local Chamber (Ogden Weber Chamber).

    Startup Ogden is a multi-use space focused on coworking, but also features an iMac-filled classroom for development and design-oriented continuing education, a mobile apps lab, campus store, event space, café and get this - an Apple store (coming soon).

    startup ogden

    Startup Ogden's coworking floor

    In his usual generous spirit, Alex invited some #VegasTech members (myself and David Gosse included) up to the launch festivities and its subsequent Startup Weekend. Alex has been an avid supporter of VegasTech and we've appreciated his consistent contributions in-person and from his home base in UT for our growing community. It was our honor to trek up to Ogden for his mega-launch and see what he'd been cooking for the last couple years. (For some fun outtakes, see the #SelfieTour photos initiated by Jimmy Jacobson and Porter Haney).

    #VegasTech in Ogden

    It's a beautiful place. The rustic modern three-floor building has been reimagined from an abandoned manufacturing facility. Original exposed brick walls date back to the late 1800's while the new hand-scraped wood floors update the look. Loads of natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows on each floor is enhanced by a glass enclosed staircase. Ping pong tables, a punching bag and conversation areas with flat screen TVs makes the old-meets-new look a definite modern vibe.

    Startup Weekend’s founder underscores the imperative of inclusiveness in community

    Also in attendance at Startup Ogden's launch and its subsequent Startup Weekend event later that evening was Andrew Hyde, the founder of Startup Weekend. As the 54-hour startup event began, Andrew’s keynote revealed that his original goal when launching Startup Weekend was to help build inclusive communities.

    He encouraged attendees to nurture a community where everyone feels welcomed and valued. If you can do that in a weekend, you can carry over that practice to your company and city. It's hard to do a bad job when you're inclusive, he said.

    That sentiment matched perfectly with the theme of Startup Ogden's launch weekend: community, inclusiveness and innovation.

    Andrew Hyde and Made in Ogden

    Andrew Hyde and local tech goods maker, Ogden Made, founder

    When we knock down our typical walls and collaborate cross-agency/company/city/demographics/company/culture, we can create something innovative that improves our collective futures.

    That’s what Alex Lawrence did with his original vision for Startup Ogden and what the founding partners did when they signed on to work together for a common goal for the betterment of their young people’s and community’s future. It’s also the aim of Startup Weekends in over 200 cities around the world. And it should be the goal for each of us in our communities, companies and families. After all, collaboration is simply defined as working with others in order to produce or create something – exceptional.


    Bonus section (more photos)

    classroom space

    #VegasTech pals Jimmy Jacobson teaches Tracky CEO David Gosse a lesson or two in coding in the continuing education classroom.

    bikes at coworking

    Bikes as art? You bet. Especially when just outside are some epic trails in the Wasatch Mountains.

    ogden mountain views

  • 10 Tips For Using Google Analytics #VegasTech

    • By sarah
    • |
    • Monday, December 10, 2012

    It’s not everyday you get a personal Q&A session and training from Google Analytics (GA) team members. Last week, that’s exactly what #VegasTech got from GA’s Adam Singer (@adamsinger) and Linus Chou.

    Hosted at state-of-the-art co-working space, inNEVation (@innevation) a dozen startup founders came to get a better handle on their Google Analytics knowledge. This is one of the benefits of being part of such an active tech community focused on continually improving their products.

    If you’re not familiar with Google Analytics, it’s a Google product of free (and premium) web analytics, including: content, mobile, social and more. They’re disrupting an entire industry by giving so much away for free. You can measure sales and conversions and get insights into how visitors use your site, how they arrived on your site, and how to keep them coming back. Because it’s such a robust product, many times companies work with Certified Google Analytics Partners to help them set up and/or manage their accounts.

    Startup teams already know the pains of limited resources and may not have the budget to afford a GA partner. That’s why the GA team dedicated a portion of their Las Vegas visit to educating the #VegasTech community. (Thanks Adam and Linus!)

    Here are 10 of the most important takeaways and tips from the two-hour training session:

    1. If you’re only focused on your mobile site and mobile marketing, you’re losing out. Your website is still paramount to your online presence. In fact, to be truly successful, you “need a mix of ‘own’ (i.e. your website) and ‘rent’ (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) for a complete web experience,” says @adamsinger. For 2013, make sure your website is easy to find (via search), navigate (check your analytics) and to find again.
    2. Don’t underestimate social. It’s important to understand that social media influences micro conversions. These are all of the things that lead to a purchase later (versus right now). When you don’t spend time monitoring social behaviors and traffic, you’re missing out on micro conversion opportunities. The GA social reporting product allows users to: measure, track referrals, discover what people are sharing from your site and more.
    3. The best free tool no one knows about? THIS --> Insights for Search.
    4. On any public Google+ post, if you click "view ripples" you can see all of the public shares and comments. (To view Ripples for a public post in your stream, just click the dropdown arrow at the top of the post you’re curious about and click View Ripples. To view Ripples for a specific URL, open the Ripples dialog, and in the top corner, enter the URL you want to see Ripples for. You’ll see a visualization for all the public shares on Google+ of that URL.)
    5. Learn about Trackbacks. Trackbacks are like automated Google Alerts for all of your pages. It’s great for relationship building, SEO and micro conversions. GA’s Social reports allow you to view all backlink URL’s, post titles, and more right within the new Social reports.
    6. If you’re logged into @googleanalytics go here http://j.mp/12hhRmd for a completely customized dashboard. Sweet!
    7. Did you know there's a heat map overlay in the free version of@googleanalytics? Now you do. It’s nice to know where people are clicking the most on your site. Update accordingly to create the best possible user experience.
    8. Find out what your site sends to GA. “The Google Analytics team built a Chrome extension that is intended to help you debug your implementation. This extension loads the debug version of the Google Analytics Javascript for all sites you browse using Google Chrome. It prints useful information to the Javascript console. These messages include error messages and warnings which can tell you when your analytics tracking code is set up incorrectly. In addition, it provides a detailed breakdown of each tracking beacon sent to Google Analytics.”
    9. GA has a complete self service set of tools: Help Center, Google Analytics Blog, User Forum, YouTube Channel, Developer Resources and Analytics IQ.
    10. If you’re new to GA here’s a setup checklist and getting started guide.

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