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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

  • 11 startups #Shakespeare would probably have invested in

    • By sarah
    • |
    • Monday, April 22, 2013

    [PHOTO CREDIT: Lord Chamberlain’s Memes]

    Did you know that William Shakespeare was also a savvy businessman and “ruthless investor and profiteer?” It’s an often overlooked skillset of the beloved playwright.

    If Shakespeare were alive today, chances are he would be interested in innovations being made in technology and communications, especially as they relate to the arts. And, being the savvy investor he was, he’d want to get involved in the best.

    1. MySpace (new) - Shakespeare would treat the new MySpace as this century’s Globe Theater. His support would fuel the rise of up and coming performers with a passion for creating works of musical art. He might even feature a great indy band in his next rom-com. And, who knows, a JT and Shakespeare partnership?
    2. GetGlue - Imagine finding out who is reading your books or watching your written-for-the-big-screen movies. Shakespeare would have been glued to Glue, along with finding ways to engage with and reward his most loyal fans.
    3. Medium - Like modern day quarto editions of his best works. Shakespeare would find innovative ways to connect his art with a greater community. I wonder if he’d invite anyone to contribute?
    4. Twitter - To be or not to be, that is the question. The 140-character format would be an ideal platform for Shakespeare to share his daily musings, tease his next project and correct misinformation about which Anne Hathaway he married. 
    5. Kayak - A travel app? Yes. Shakespeare was known to spend his time between London and Stratford, England. That’s two hours by car and would have been about three days by horse and cart. Once he discovered innovations like planes, trains and automobiles, I bet Shakespeare would become a world-traveling jetsetter.
    6. BuzzFeed - What if the combination of memes, pop culture and original news content was right up Shakespeare’s ally? Known for his precise comic sequences, maybe he would have become both an investor and contributor. Can anyone say king of memes?
    7. Foursquare - As a “ruthless investor” Shakespeare would be all about making a profit. He’d urge Foursquare execs to sell check-in data for ad targeting. There would most likely be a King’s Men badge for those who check in to more than three live performances of Shakespeare’s plays.
    8. Netflix - If only to expose more people to Mel Gibson as Hamlet, Shakespeare would have wanted in on the Netflix early days. With more than 20 movies based on his written works already available, who knows what else he would be able to make happen.
    9. Tracky - Playwrights in Shakespeare’s time often collaborated on projects. Well, there’s no better collaboration platform than Tracky, so we’re inclined to think he’d be all up in our business.
    10. Dollar Shave Club - Impeccable grooming is a top priority when you have well-known facial hair. Plus, who doesn’t love a great deal? Shakespeare would most likely be both investor and spokesperson for the men’s razor deal site.
    11. SnapChat - Shakespeare would love real-time picture chatting and would have found a way to socialize shortburst soliloquies.

    And suggestions from a few from our friends:

    “Kickstarter!” -Brady Akers
    “Rap genius.” -Michael Gruen

    What startups do you think Shakespeare would invest in if he were alive today? Share your responses here or on Twitter and tag @Tracky.

  • SXSW video recap: Sarah Evans hosts Innovator Series from the Samsung Blogger Lounge

    • By jennifer
    • |
    • Wednesday, April 10, 2013

    You may have thought that the hype of SXSW 2013 was past, but we're here to bring you some evergreen inspiration with this #SXSWi Innovator Series recap. Sarah Evans celebrated the "doers" as the host of the series, thanks to partners Cox Blue, Watchitoo and yes, Tracky. Sarah graciously interviewed the following tech innovators who divulged insights into their work and passion projects. Take, for instance, Esther Dyson's thoughts on genetic testing and paid email, Andy White's take on serendipitous interactions in downtown Las Vegas and Kristin Hersant's adivce on building communities, all available below in their respective segments. 

    We hope you'll find some inspiration in these innovator segments:  

    Whew! That’s a lot of innovative ideas aflow at SXSW and beyond. Big thanks to Watchitoo for hosting the live stream!

    SXSW Innovator Series - Tracky and RollTech interview

    You can also tune into the entire video archive of the livestream here.

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